After gathering your fabric, pattern, thread and needle you are almost good to go. All you need to do is: cut the fabric, separate your floss and thread your needle! 

Cutting the fabric 

The size of your project will depend on the count of your fabric. You can calculate the size using this handy cross stitch size calculator

To avoid fraying you can cut the fabric using pinking shears. Another option is to cut the fabric using normal fabric scissors and using washi tape to tape the sides of the fabric. Washi tape prevents fraying but will not leave a sticky residue on your fabric. 

Always leave enough room for framing so make sure to cut your fabric with 5 cm (or 2") on all sides. Sometimes a project will specify how much extra room you will need on the sides, always follow the project instructions. 

Washing the fabric 

Do not wash the fabric beforehand. Washing will tighten up the holes and make stitching on the fabric more difficult as the squares become harder to see. You can wash the project afterwards. See [Lesson 6] for instructions on washing and framing. 

Finding the centre

It is important to locate the centre of your fabric so that you can centre the design on it. To find the centre, fold the fabric in half and then in half again, the centre of the fabric is where the folds intersect. To mark the centre point make a small dot with a water soluble pen. 

Organizing your floss 

If you ordered a Stitchonomy kit, the threads will have been sorted in a thread card. If you have ordered your supplies separately you can organize your thread on a thread card before you begin stitching for easy access to the threads and to make sure you are using the correct color. You can download this thread card template or you can buy a reusable plastic or wooden thread card. 

I like to cut the threads in lengths of 1 meter, the floss is a total of 8 meters so if you double the floss down 4 times and cut at both sides you will have 8 equal lengths of floss. Add these to the thread card in the order you wish to use them and add numbers to your chart to make sure the correct color is in the correct place. 

Seperating your floss 

Before you start stitching you will have to separate your floss. Cross stitch is generally worked using two strands of cotton when working on 14 or 16 count fabric. Add a thread if you are working on 12 count fabric. When working with 18 count fabric use only 1 strand. 

Embroidery Floss is made up of 6 easy-to-separate strands.

Embroidery Floss is made up of 6 easy-to-separate strands. Grab 1 strand between two fingers and hold the other threads between two other fingers. Gently pull out the strands one by one and recombine them to the thread thickness of your choice.  

Threading your needle 

Tie a knot at the end of your string and insert the loop of your threader through the eye. Insert the thread through the loop and pull the loop back out of the eye of the needle

Threading your needle is easiest using a needle threader.

Using a hoop 

Loosen the screw on the outer embroidery hoop and separate the inner and outer rings. Place the inner ring on a flat surface. 

Using hoop helps keep your fabric taut so all stitches will have the same tension.

Place your fabric over it, then put the outer ring over the fabric and press until the bottom ring is snug inside the outer ring. Tug the corners of the fabric slightly to make the fabric taunt – make sure this is as tight as possible so the fabric won’t slip out of the hoop. Tighten the nut or screw securely. Your fabric is now in place and ready to stitch on.