Essential Materials

Needles: Needles used for cross-stitch have blunt tips. The blunt tips help to slightly widen the holes in your needlework fabric, thereby allowing the floss to pass through the holes more easily. It is not advisable to use standard sewing needles for cross-stitch, as they are sharp-tipped rather than blunt-tipped. Look for needles specifically designed for cross stitch. Common brands include DMC, Clover, Bohin and John James. Although it depends somewhat on personal preference and the count of fabric you choose, the most common needle sizes used for cross stitch are 24, 26 and 28 (28 being the smallest size available).

Floss: There are three “big brands” of floss for cross stitching; DMC, Anchor and J&P Coats. Most projects will give you listings for DMC floss. You’ll want to use one of the big three companies for your floss as there is less color discrepancy from skein to skein, more color selection, and they’re better quality and won’t split or fray as often.

Fabrics: You will need some fabric that is appropriate for cross-stitching. As a beginner, the most advisable type of fabric is 14-count aida, which is widely available and affordable. The two other primary types of fabric are linen and evenweave, but they are not usually recommended for beginners. See the glossary for more detailed definitions of the various fabric types.

Scissors: Any old pair of scissors will work. You'll find that most stitchers perfect sharp pointed scissors. The trusty Stork Scissors pictured to the left are a common scissor in any stitcher's toolbox as they are very pointed, sharp, and are great for fine work as they can get into the tiny crevices that a more blunt scissor can't.

Patterns: Most commonly called a pattern, but sometimes called a chart, this is your design. You will follow this to create your cross stitch. If you purchase a pre-packaged kit, it will come with a pattern. If you want to purchase a stand-alone pattern, you can do that anywhere, from a craft store like Michael's or JoAnn's to an online store like Etsy, but more on that later!

Kits: As a beginner, your best bet is to purchase a kit for your very first time. A kit is a pre-packaged project - it includes everything you will need, except scissors, to complete it. They range in size, from small like this (and PERFECT for a beginner) to large and embellished. If you are unsure if you'll enjoy cross stitching, this is your go-to item. They're small, quick to complete, and only cost about US$3.00 so you're not out a ton of money if you end up not enjoying it.

Dimensions, Bothy, Bucilla, Mill Hill (most kits involve beading), Janlynn, Pine Mountain Designs, Etsy