Cross stitch tips - starting and stopping

I think all of us enjoy passing on cross stitch tips that we have picked up over the years. So here are mine.

You put a lot of time and effort into completing a piece of embroidery and when its finished you want it to look as perfect as possible. It might after all be hanging in pride of place on your living room wall for years. No one need know that you substituted French knots for those beads you couldn't locate in time or where you compensated for your mistake halfway down the fold of that dress. However lumps showing through the completed work or a dark thread carried across an un-stitched piece of material do not look good. These imperfections and others are avoidable.

Firstly I would like to share some cross stitch tips for starting your thread without tying knots.

Loop Method

You can only use this when using two threads of the same colour.

Cut your thread twice as long as you need it, double it and thread your needle with both ends of thread. Push the needle up through the fabric and make a half stitch then pass the needle through the loop formed at the back to secure.

Loose End Start

You can use this method for any number of threads or when you are blending colours using different colours in your needle.

When you come up through the fabric for the first time you leave a small length of thread at the back. Hold this thread underneath with a finger, beneath the area to be stitched and secure it by making your first few cross-stitches over it. As your embroidery progresses you can anchor your threads by running it under the back of existing stitches so long as there is not too much contrast in colour. Otherwise you run the risk of one colour showing through another when framed.

Waste knot start

This is one of my favourite cross stitch tips, especially when one or both threads are metallic and slightly more slippery than usual. It can be used with any number of threads in your needle.

Knot the end of your threads together after threading your needle. Keeping the knot on the right side of the fabric take needle through the fabric a little way from where you are going to put your first stitch. As you stitch along the row your stitches will secure the thread at the back and you can consequently snip the knot off the front of your work with sharp scissors.

As I work a lot with metallic and speciality threads I find even with method two it is sometimes useful to knot the end of the threads remembering to cut the knot off before subsequent stitches anchor it. When one has differing types of thread it is sometimes difficult to keep them together otherwise.

Finishing your thread

When you have finished a colour or your thread is running out, pull the thread to the back of the fabric and anchor it by running it under the back of existing adjoining stitches. Any loose ends can be trimmed with sharp scissors.

Preventing your thread showing from behind

As a general rule you don't want to carry your threads too far from one piece of the design to another. You run the risk of distorting the fabric and of spare pieces of thread showing through un-stitched parts of the design.

The general rule is not to run it over more than 3 or 4 squares. I have got away with bending that rule but only when it was possible to anchor the thread very carefully under the back of adjoining stitches. You know you've got away with it when you hold your embroidery up to the light or against a plain wall and therefore get a better idea of how it will look like when framed.

Share your cross stitch tips

If you have any favourite cross stitch tips why not drop me a line on my contact Shan page and I will add them to this page to share with everyone.