Cross Stitching Clothes: Cross Stitch Designs and Patterns

Gather Your Cross Stitch Supplies and Get Started

Cross stitching sayings or motifs on clothing is a great way to personalize your look, or promote your message, whether you want people to know your grandkids are the greatest, or that you like horses or cats. With these sewing tips you can use all sorts of cross stitch designs or create your own.

You can stitch directly on some fabrics if the weave is even enough not to warp the patterns and the fabric is sturdy enough not to be pulled into warps and bubbles by the stitches, but it takes a good eye to count the individual threads and there are easier ways to get your design on the fabric.  Fabrics not suitable for cross stitch include any finely woven soft fabric like silk and its artificial imitators such as rayon. Some linens are sturdy enough to hold the stitches, but try a tiny piece first and see before you spend a lot of money on a great piece of fabric only to discover it buckles when you pull the threads.

These sewing techniques should help you learn how to start cross stitching. You can find designs or create your own. Gather your supplies and sewing tips and let's get started.

The best clothing items for cross stitch are sweatshirts and ball caps. And the best way to get an even-looking pattern is with a product called 'waste canvas'.

Waste canvas can be bought in any craft shop and most fabric stores. It is a very loose, open-woven fabric that is very stiff with starch. In fact, the starch holds it together, which will become important later. Waste canvas comes in all popular thread counts, but for stitching on sweats and caps, 8-count is a good size. You will have to use three or four threads in your needle to get enough coverage. (See How To Cross Stitch for a discussion of cloth thread counts.) While you're at the craft store, you may also want to check out patterns.

  1. Calculate the size of your design. If it is 50 stitches wide and you are planning to use 8-count canvas, your design will be 50/8 or 6.25 inches. If this is larger than you wanted, use a higher-count canvas and vice versa.
  2. Cut a piece of canvas the size of your design plus an inch or two on all sides for basting. Baste the waste canvas to the clothing item, using big stitches.
  3. Now find the center of your canvas and the center of the design. Start working from the center out.  If you try to start from a corner, you may get to the end of the project and find you have miscalculated and your design is off-center.
  4. You are stitching through both the clothing item and the waste canvas, with the waste canvas being your stitching guide. Don't worry about the look yet, the canvas is getting in the way.
  5. Once you have finished your design (and not before!), use a sponge and clear clean water, or a spray bottle filled with water, and saturate your work. Get it good and soaked--it is necessary that the entire waste canvas be well wetted, because this dissolves the starch that is holding it together.
  6. Once the waste canvas is soaked and limp, you can now pull out individual strands of the canvas from beneath the stitches. You may have to pull them out one thread at a time, but usually you can pull two or three at a time. Discard the strands of canvas and allow your clothing item to air-dry. Your stitched design should be machine-washable and dryable, if you have used good quality embroidery threads.

Now you understand the term 'waste canvas'. The canvas, after serving its purpose, is thrown out, or wasted.  Be careful not to spill anything on your work in progress--if you dissolve the starch in the canvas before you are through, nothing can make it stiffen again. These techniques and supplies will help you create cross stitch clothing. Good luck!


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