How to Work Chinese Cross Stitch

Perfect for Borders and Edging on Embroidery Projects

Chinese Cross Stitch Diagram
Chinese Cross Stitch Diagram Mollie Johanson

In embroidery, Chinese cross stitch is worked using a single horizontal and two vertical straight stitches. This style of stitch is different from standard cross stitch, which is worked diagonally to form a small X-shaped stitch. Instead, it almost looks like a fence when stitched in a row.

Chinese cross stitch makes a pretty border or edging on a project, and can be worked in a single row or multiple rows. You can pre-mark the stitching area on the fabric with a water-soluble pen or work the stitches freestyle or as a counted stitch.

How to Work Chinese Cross Stitch

  1. Bring the needle up through the embroidery fabric on the far left side of the stitching area (point 1). Insert the needle into the fabric to the right (point 2), making a straight, horizontal stitch. If working the stitch on Aida fabric, this stitch crosses six squares of fabric (or six groups of two threads on evenweave fabric).
  2. Bring the needle up again through the fabric below the horizontal line (point 3). Go back down (point 4), making a vertical stitch that crosses the horizontal stitch. If working on Aida fabric, this stitch crosses two squares and is spaced two squares from the end of the horizontal stitch.
  3. Bring the needle up through the embroidery fabric to the left of the stitch you just made (point 5). Go back down (point 6), making a second vertical stitch.
  4. Bring the needle up through the fabric at the bottom of the first vertical stitch (point 7). This puts you in position to work the next stitch.
  5. Continue working the stitch groups along the length of the area you are stitching.


  • Properly proportioned Chinese cross stitches should form little squares where the groupings meet up with each other. Try to picture those squares as you space your stitches. 
  • Of course, there's nothing wrong with breaking the rules and making stitches that are a bit more free-spirited. Change up the proportions for an entirely different look!
  • The diagram shows this stitch worked with the sewing method, which takes the needle down and back up in a single stitch. However, you may find that you can stitch with more accuracy and get the proportions you want if you use the stabbing method. 

Ideas for Using Chinese Cross Stitch

Although Chinese cross stitch naturally leads from one stitch into another to form a row, you can stitch these individually. You might also try stacking the rows to fill in a large area. 

Because this stitch forms a sort of grid, it would combine well with other stitches. Consider adding french knots or tiny standard cross stitches within the little open squares. Or, look to other stitch combinations for inspiration!

For extra embellishment, you can even try weaving thread around the stitch in a way that's similar to wrapped and woven stitches.

The rows of Chinese cross stitch look a little like a fence and would make a good border for a farm themed embroidery project. Try adding some tiny sheep stitched with french knots!