How to...


All of my patterns include general instructions on how to complete each design. The following gives you some idea of what to expect in each pattern, although it varies slightly from design to design depending on the stitches used. Please see the Cross Stitch Patterns or Blackwork Patterns tab for a break down of the exact stitches used in each design. 

Centring the design...

Fold your cloth in half from one side to the other, and again from top to bottom. The folded corner is the centre. Mark this with either a needle, or a short length of thread. Open the cloth fully again before you start to stitch.

Find the centre of the chart by following the column/line at the point of the triangle, from the top or bottom, until it intersects with the line from the triangle at the side of the chart. Count from this point to the beginning of your colour. Do the same again from the centre of the fabric so the colour of your stitches correspond to the symbols on the chart. Remove the marker when you have finished placing several stitches.

Starting and finishing colours/threads...

Leave a 'tail' of thread about 1-1½ inches (2.5–4 cm) long on the back of your fabric when you start a new colour. Trap this 'tail' between the fabric and your stitches as you work along the row. When the tail overlaps previously stitched colours, start it by first drawing your thread under 4 or 5 finished stitches on the back of the fabric. Finish a colour the same way. To prevent the cloth from puckering, use an embroidery hoop, and make a fresh start when the same colour continues more than 3 stitches away from your current position.

Cross stitch... whole, ½ , ¼ and ¾

Whole cross stitches form an 'X' on the fabric. Two types of diagonal lines, known as ½ cross stitches, make up each 'X'. The top diagonal needs to lie in the same direction for each colour.

Start your colour by bringing your needle from the back to the front of the fabric through hole 1. Make the first ½ cross stitch (/) by passing your needle through hole 2. Bring the needle through hole 3, and then back through hole 4 to form the next ½ cross stitch lying in the same direction. Continue to alternate diagonally from bottom left to top right, between the odd and even numbers, until you reach the end of your colour.

Finish the whole cross stitches by returning in the opposite direction along the row you just finished. This time, make the second type of ½ cross stitch (\). Pass your needle from bottom right to top left, working your way from hole 9 to hole 6, then hole 7 to hole 4, and so on.

¼ cross stitches are half of one diagonal in length. One end passes through the hole in the fabric that corresponds to the placement of the symbol on the chart. For instance, when the symbol lies in the lower left quadrant of the square, one end of the ¼ cross stitch passes through the corresponding lower left hole of the square on the fabric. The other end splits the fabric at the mid-point between the holes.

¼ cross stitches are completed at the same time as the whole stitches. Complete the ¼ cross stitches lying along the diagonal running from bottom left to top right at the same time as you do the first diagonal (/) of the whole cross stitches. Stitch the ¼ cross stitches lying along the diagonal running from bottom right to top left (\) when you come back across the row you've just finished.

A ¾ cross stitch is simply a ¼ cross stitch plus a diagonal. Complete each part according to the direction in which it lies, as above.

Use a ¼ cross stitch when a lone colour falls within a quadrant of a square that is backstitched across one of its diagonals.

Use ¼ cross stitches for both colours when a backstitch separates the two colours within the same square.

Use a ¾ cross stitch for the colour that appears to be in the foreground when there are 2 colours within the same square.

Use a ¾ cross stitch when a lone colour falls within a quadrant of a square that is not backstitched across either of its diagonals.

Backstitch and long stitch...

Backstitch and long stitch serve to outline or highlight areas of a design. Both are completed after all the cross stitches are in place.

Bring your needle from the back to the front of the fabric at hole 2, then through hole 1, followed by hole 3, and again through hole 2. Continue to alternate between the next sequential number and the previous one until you have finished.

The fan-like areas in the rock garden (Spring at Cragside design) are a simple variation of the backstitch. Bring your needle from the back to the front of the fabric through hole 1, then hole 2, then hole 1 again, and finally, through hole 3. Alternate between hole 1 and each sequentially numbered hole until the 'fan' is finished.

Long stitch threads cover longer distances than those of backstitch. They skip the holes that lie between any two consecutive points.

The fan-like stitches that form the roof of the aviary (Saltwell Park design) are a simple variation of the long stitch. Bring your needle from the back to the front of the fabric through hole 1, then point 2, then hole 1 again, and finally, through point 3. Alternate between hole 1 and each sequentially numbered point until the 'fan' is finished.

Double running stitch...

The openwork area between the outer ring of flowers and the central design represents the arches beneath the iron bridge at Cragside. Complete it in double running stitch to prevent shadows from threads on the reverse side showing through to the front.

The basic running stitch is normally completed by bringing the needle up from the back of the cloth to the front through hole 1, down through hole 2, up through hole 3 and so on. Each stitch is the same length as the one before it. The second pass returns along the same line, filling in the spaces left behind by the first run, from hole 5 to hole 4, and so on.

Software limitations imposed angular lines where arches should appear on the chart so you need to adjust the basic double running stitch slightly. Pierce the threads in the cloth instead of passing your needle through holes between squares whenever it is more appropriate. You may find that it helps to place an arch-shaped item, of similar size, on the fabric to guide your stitching. I used the top from a 35 mm film cannister.

French knots...

Bring your needle up through the hole in the cloth to start the knot. Keeping the pointed end of the needle close to the cloth, wind the threads 3 times around the needle. Pull the wound threads snug, but leave enough room for the eye to pass through them. Push the point of the needle into the cloth close to the hole where you started. Slide the wrapped threads down the shaft of the needle to the cloth while maintaining the tension. Hold the wrapped threads in place while you gently pull the needle and long length of threads through to the back of the cloth. Stop pulling when the knot fits snugly against the cloth.

Copyright © Linda Morris, 2009 - 2017