How to Stitch a Single Cross Stitch From Start to Finish

A woman's hands doing cross stitch
Tatiana Maramygina/FOAP/Getty Images
  • 01 of 10

    Prepare Supplies

    A hand placing the fabric in the hoop
    Connie G. Barwick

    Stitching a cross stitch pattern from start to finish doesn't have to be a headache. Follow these easy steps, and you'll be on your way to a perfect cross stitch project. 

    To stitch a cross stitch, you'll need:

    • Pair of sharp scissors
    • Small embroidery hoop
    • One piece of 11-count Aida fabric, large enough to overlap the hoop by a few inches
    • A short length of six-strand embroidery floss, any color
    • Size 24 tapestry needle

    Place the fabric in the hoop and set aside. Cut a 12-inch length of embroidery floss and separate the strands. Thread the tapestry needle with two strands of the floss.

    Continue to 2 of 10 below.
  • 02 of 10

    How to Hold the Hoop and Needle

    Hands holding the hoop and needle
    Connie G. Barwick

    Hold the hoop in your left hand and the needle with your right thumb and forefinger. Do not grip the needle too tightly.

    Position the hoop with the adjustment screw to the left, out of the way of the stitches. Otherwise, this part of the hoop can catch the thread, causing possible damage to the floss.

    Continue to 3 of 10 below.
  • 03 of 10

    Begin the Cross Stitch

    A hand beginning the first half stitch
    Connie G. Barwick

    Aida, a common cross stitching fabric, is made up of tiny squares. Pick a square of Aida near the center of the hoop. Look closely at the square and locate the lower-left corner. Place your needle behind the fabric and insert it into the hole. If you have difficulty placing the needle, flip the hoop over, and locate your desired square on back of the fabric. 

    Check to see that the needle is inserted directly into the space in the corner of the Aida square. It should not pierce any fabric threads.

    When you're sure that you have the needle inserted correctly, bring your right hand to the front of the hoop. The needle should be large enough to perch in the fabric, but if it starts to fall out, support the needle with the ring finger of your left hand.

    Grasp the needle and draw the floss up through the hole. Do not pull the floss all the way through. Leave a "tail" of about 2 inches on the back of the fabric. If you have difficulty with this step, use a waste knot to secure your thread.  

    Continue to 4 of 10 below.
  • 04 of 10

    Complete the First Half Stitch

    A hand completing the first half stitch
    Connie G. Barwick

    Draw the thread across the Aida square diagonally. Insert the tip of the needle in the upper right-hand corner, and take your right hand to the back of the fabric and pull the needle and floss through the hole. Take care to leave the "tail" of the floss on the back of the fabric—do not pull the stitch too tight. Leave the floss a little loose. You have just stitched a half stitch.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Begin a Second Half Stitch

    A hand beginning the second half stitch
    Connie G. Barwick

    With your right hand at the back of the fabric, insert the needle in the lower right corner of the Aida square, directly below the top of the half stitch. Draw the needle and floss up to the top of the hoop. Next, flip the hoop over and keep your needle in your right hand.

    Continue to 6 of 10 below.
  • 06 of 10

    Secure the End of the Floss

    Fingers securing the floss with a needle
    Connie G. Barwick

    On the back of the hoop, use your needle to drag the "tail" of the floss under the loop formed by the back of the stitch. Gently tighten the floss to secure the end under the loop.

    Continue to 7 of 10 below.
  • 07 of 10

    Complete the Second Half Stitch

    Fingers completing the second half stitch
    Connie G. Barwick

    Insert the tip of the needle in the upper left corner of the Aida square. Move your hand to the back of the fabric and draw the floss through. Flip the hoop over.

    Continue to 8 of 10 below.
  • 08 of 10

    Secure the Floss and Snip the Ends

    Hands securing the floss and snipping the ends
    Connie G. Barwick

    On the back of the hoop, slip the needle under the back of the stitch and pull the floss through. Tighten the floss. Snip the existing "tail" and the floss in the needle, leaving about a half inch of floss.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    The Completed Cross Stitch

    A completed cross stitch
    Connie G. Barwick

    Congratulations! You have just completed a cross stitch.

    Use your needle to adjust the floss, or pull on the ends of the floss to tighten the stitch if needed. 

    Continue to 10 of 10 below.
  • 10 of 10

    Continue Practicing

    A row of cross stitches
    Connie G. Barwick

    Now that you've completed your first cross stitch, choose another square and repeat steps 4 through 9. See what happens if you pull your stitches tight or leave them loose. As you practice, you'll learn how tightly to pull the floss as you stitch.

    When you're comfortable with stitching a cross stitch, the next step will be to learn how to stitch a row of cross stitches.