Starting a Cross Stitch on Linen Fabric

Tips and Tutorials for Cross Stitching on Linen

Stitching on linen
Kathy Quirk-Syvertsen / Getty Images

Cross stitching on linen (due to the delicate nature of the fabric) may seem overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be a scary experience. Properly placing your fabric onto the hoop to prepare it for stitching will help yield desired results. The key to successful stitching on linen fabric is identifying the direction of the weave and the placement of the very first stitch. And while this may seem simple, it does require a small cross stitch skill set to be successful. If you are a newbie, practice a few times before actually performing the stitch on your final piece of fabric.

Materials Needed for Cross Stitching on Linen

  • Linen fabric
  • Tapestry needle
  • Floss
  • Scissors
  • Hoop or Frame (optional)

Instructions for Cross Stitching on Linen

Difficulty: Intermediate

Time Required: Varies

First, place your fabric onto your hoop, taking care not to pull it out of skew (not too tight and not too loose). Next, identify the direction of the weave in the fabric. The first stitch should be placed so that it "leans against" a thread in the linen weave. Next, since linen stitches are tiny, you must stitch "over two" threads on the diagonal so that your project doesn't come out too small, resulting in frustration. To make the final stitch and complete the cross, go back over two warp (longitudinal) stitches and 2 weft (transverse) stitches.

Another technique for cross stitching on linen requires the use of waste canvas, a gridded fabric that helps maintain stiffness on the hoop and can be dissolved in water and removed, once the project is done. Beginner crafters may want to baste or press a piece of waste canvas onto the right side of the linen. This makes it easier to maintain the grid needed for cross stitching, without becoming confused by the delicate weave.

Tips for Cross Stitching on Linen

  1. Linen is not stiff like Aida fabric or waste canvas—it will move when placed in your hoop or on a frame. For this reason, do not pull the fabric too tight in the hoop (contrary to logic). This will distort the fabric and cause a funky look once you remove your work from the frame.
  2. When placing your first stitch on linen, visualize the stitch "leaning against the post" (leaning against a thread in the weave). This will help you stay within the lines so that the fabric does not pull and become distorted.
  3. Always adhere to the proper cleaning instructions for linen. Hand washing in cold water with a mild detergent, and then line drying, is best. Machine washing may cause the fabric to shrink or stretch out, ruining the design.
  4. Stitch a sample piece before starting your project. This will allow you to practice the correct and incorrect way to frame and stitch. You can also practice other, more complicated, stitches on the linen sample too, before getting started.
  5. Dye the linen for a more dramatic effect, just make sure to prewash it after dying so that the color doesn't bleed into your project upon the next launder.
  1. You can convert any cross stitch pattern to fit linen.