How To Properly Start a Cross Stitch on Linen Fabric

Tips and Tutorials on How to Cross Stitch on Linen

Stitching on linen
Kathy Quirk-Syvertsen / Getty Images

Cross stitching on linen doesn't have to be a scary experience. It may seem overwhelming but know how to place your fabric and prepare for the stitching will help you with your project in the long run. It will take a rough scary tasks and make it a pleasurable relaxing experience. Below is a brief tutorial on how to place linen fabric in a hoop and prepare it for cross stitching, 

The key to successful stitching on Linen fabric is the placement of the very first stitch. This may seem like a very simple idea but there is much more too it and you do need a small cross stitch skill set to do it. It is more than just putting the fabric in the hoop. The skill level set for this is average so maybe if you are a newbie, you can try it a few times before actually stitching. 

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: Varies

Here's How:

  1. Before you start a stitch on linen, identify the direction of the weave of the fabric. In the diagram, the black lines highlight the threads in the fabric.
    The first stitch should be placed so that it "leans" against a thread in the weave of the fabric. The needle should be brought up at the black square.
  2. To stitch "over two" threads, the needle should be draw down in the space indicated by the purple square. If stitching over one thread, the needle would be drawn down at the red square.
  3. To stitch a single cross stitch on linen, draw the needle up at the green square and down at the pink square.


  1. To remember how to place your first stitch on linen, visualize the stitch "leaning against the post", that is leaning against a thread in the weave. This will help you so much and will allow to stay "within the lines" It is very easy to go through the wrong way with linen. If you do this, the fabric will pull and become distorted.
  2. If stitches are not placed correctly, they will disappear. Try stitching a few stitches incorrectly - the floss tends to slip behind the thread of the fabric weave.
  3. Linen is not as stiff as aida fabric so it does take some getting used to. Because it is so soft it will move and not stay in place in a hoop or frame. You do not want to pull the fabric too much to make it tight in the hoop. This will distort the fabric. You want it tight but not to where the weave is out of whack. 
  4. Make sure that you use proper cleaning techniques when using linen. Because of the feel of the fabric, it may get dirtier easier and stretched out when cleaning. Hand cleaning is the best way to clean linen and make sure you wash it in cold water with a light detergent. 


    These tips may be a bit confusing so it is suggested that you should try stitching on a sample piece before starting your project. This will allow you to learn the correct and incorrect way to frame and stitch. You can also practice other more complicated stitches on linen with this sampler. Linen can also be expensive so make sure that it is the right choice for you. There are varying types of linen so you can try several kinds before settling on the style you like. 

    What You Need:

    • linen fabric
    • tapestry needle
    • floss
    • scissors
    • Hoop (optional)
    • Frame (optional)

    Now you have the basics down and you can get started one a new cross stitching adventure. Cross stitching on linen opens up a new look and new fabric options. You can convert any cross stitch pattern to fit linen. You can also dye the linen for a more dramatic effect. The possibilities are endless and now that you know how to get started, what's stopping you?