Cross stitches

Detail of cross stitch embroidery from Sweden.
Cross stitch sampler with alphabets, crowns, and coronets, 1760
Cross stitch in canvas work

Cross stitches in embroidery, needlepoint, and other forms of needlework include a number of related stitches in which the thread is sewn in an x or + shape. Cross stitch has been called "probably the most widely used stitch of all"[1] and is part of the needlework traditions of the Balkans, Middle East, Afghanistan, Colonial America and Victorian England.



Cross stitches were typical of 16th century canvas work, falling out of fashion in favor of tent stitch toward the end of the century.[2] Canvas work in cross stitch became popular again in the mid-19th century with the Berlin wool work craze.

Herringbone, fishbone, Van Dyke, and related crossed stitches are used in crewel embroidery, especially to add texture to stems, leaves, and similar objects. Basic cross stitch is used to fill backgrounds in Assisi work.

Cross stitch was widely used to mark household linens in the 18th and 19th centuries, and girls' skills in this essential task were demonstrated with elaborate samplers embroidered with cross-stitched alphabets, numbers, birds and other animals, and the crowns and coronets sewn onto the linens of the nobility. Much of contemporary cross-stitch embroidery derives from this tradition.


Common variants of cross stitch include:[3][4]

  • Basic cross stitch
  • Long-armed cross stitch
  • Double cross stitch
  • Italian cross stitch
  • Basket stitch
  • Leaf stitch
  • Herringbone stitch
  • Closed herringbone stitch
  • Tacked herringbone stitch
  • Threaded herringbone stitch
  • Tied herringbone stitch
  • Montenegrin stitch
  • Trellis stitch
  • Thorn stitch
  • Van Dyke stitch


See also


  1. ^ Gillow, John, and Bryan Sentance: World Textiles, Bulfinch Press/Little, Brown, 1999, ISBN 0-8212-2621-5, p. 181
  2. ^ Levey, S. M. and D. King, The Victoria and Albert Museum's Textile Collection Vol. 3: Embroidery in Britain from 1200 to 1750, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1993, ISBN 1851771263
  3. ^ Gillow and Sentance: World Textiles, p. 180-183
  4. ^ Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework. The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. (March 1992). ISBN 0-89577-059-8, p. 38


  • Caulfield, S.F.A., and B.C. Saward, The Dictionary of Needlework, 1885.
  • Enthoven, Jacqueline: The Creative Stitches of Embroidery, Van Norstrand Rheinhold, 1964, ISBN 0-442-22318-8
  • Reader's Digest, Complete Guide to Needlework. The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. (March 1992). ISBN 0-89577-059-8
  • Lemon, Jane, Metal Thread Embroidery, Sterling, 2004, ISBN 071348926X, p. 112
  • Levey, S. M. and D. King, The Victoria and Albert Museum's Textile Collection Vol. 3: Embroidery in Britain from 1200 to 1750, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1993, ISBN 1851771263

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cross-Basket Stitch — An embroidery stitch, made by first placing a series of parallel thread groups in the space to be filled, running another series perpendicular to the first ones, and then fastening the two groups by working cross stitches at the points where the… …   Dictionary of the English textile terms

  • Cross-stitch — This article is about the embroidery style called cross stitch or counted cross stitch. For specific crossed stitches used in needlework, see cross stitches. Cross stitch sampler, Germany, 1735. Cross stitch is a popular form of counted thread… …   Wikipedia

  • cross-stitch — /ˈkrɒs stɪtʃ/ (say kros stich) noun 1. a kind of stitching employing pairs of diagonal stitches of the same length crossing each other in the middle at right angles. –verb (t) 2. to make or embroider with cross stitches. –verb (i) 3. to work in… …   Australian English dictionary

  • Cross-stitch — ( st?ch ; 224), n. 1. A form of stitch, where the stitches are diagonal and in pairs, the thread of one stitch crossing that of the other. Tent and cross stitch. Sir W. Scott. {Cross stitch }, v. t. & i. [1913 Webster] 2. embroidery done in cross …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cross stitch Needlework — noun a stitch formed of two stitches crossing each other. verb (cross stitch) sew or embroider using cross stitch …   English new terms dictionary

  • cross-stitch — cross′ stitch n. 1) clo a stitch in which pairs of diagonal stitches of the same length cross each other in the middle to form anX 2) clo embroidery or needlepoint done with this stitch 3) clo to work in cross stitch • Etymology: 1700–10 …   From formal English to slang

  • Cross-Stitch — A decorative stitch consisting of two stitches that cross each other. On even plaids, stripes and loose basket weaves the design may be worked directly on the fabric, but on other materials the design must be stamped or cross stitch canvas used …   Dictionary of the English textile terms

  • cross-stitch — cross ,stitch noun uncount the activity of creating pictures or writing on cloth using a needle and THREAD to make stitches that are shaped like the letter X ╾ cross ,stitch verb intransitive or transitive …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • cross stitch — ˈcross stitch f33 [cross stitch] noun countable, uncountable a ↑stitch in ↑embroidery formed by two …   Useful english dictionary

  • cross-stitch — [krôs′stich΄] n. 1. a stitch made by crossing two stitches in the form of an X 2. needlework made with this stitch vt., vi. to sew or embroider with this stitch …   English World dictionary

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