This is a curated list of the tools of the trade I love and recommend for making it easier to build beautiful cross stitch projects. This page will evolve over time as I discover new resources, so I’d recommend bookmarking it!

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Must Have Cross Stitch Supplies

All you REALLY need to get started is a needle, thread, fabric, scissors and an idea. I have added tools that I have found to be essential in keeping organized.

Whether you use a hoop to stitch every project, or just to frame a finished piece, I prefer the plastic hoops over the bamboo hoops. I bought this particular set and use them at home. They don’t have splinters and won’t pull at delicate fabric or silk threads. The screws are easy to tighten and loosen. These hoops work well with fabrics of different thicknesses and have a little ridge the holds the fabric firmly in place. The bright colors are so much more interesting than wooden hoops for framing. And if you prefer to keep and reuse them, this little set comes with a storage bag.

The package includes one of each:

5″/ 12.5 cm
6.3″/ 16 cm
7.6″/ 19.5 cm
9.6″/ 24.5 cm
11″/ 28 cm
Storage Bag

There are many, many types of fabric in a plethora of colors that can be used in cross stitch projects. The easiest and most common is aida cloth, because it is woven to include holes. These create a grid-like pattern which simplifies counting squares for counted cross stitch.

This pack contains 4 pieces of individually wrapped, white, cotton aida cloth 12 by 18 inches each in 14ct. The count indicates how many stitches can fit per inch and 14ct is the most common.

With the bobbins, all my floss stays nice and neat and never gets tangled up. I can even save all those little pieces and save every inch of floss! This is perfect for those more expensive threads like the silks, satins or metallics that don’t already come wound on a bobbin. I especially like the plastic bobbins because they last forever, even on the most-used colors like white or black. And they have the perfect amount of space for the color number stickers.

This pack is for 28 plastic floss bobbins.

 

A slightly less expensive option than the plastic ones, these cardboard bobbins are also perfect for new colors that don’t have numbered stickers yet.

This pack is for 56 plastic floss bobbins.

These size 24 tapestry needles are the BEST, most versatile and affordable option for cross stitch. The blunt nose of the needle allows you to easily slide it through the holes in aida cloth (the primary fabric for cross stitch). What makes it great is that because it isn’t sharp, it won’t split the threads in the fabric, helping to simplify some of the more complicated stitches like quarter-, half- and three-quarter-stitches.

I recommend the DMC needles here because they are widely available and inexpensive. The size 24 is perfect for 14ct aida cloth. I use these for every project and nearly every single stitch.

I was debating whether to keep these on the “necessities” list because it’s perfectly possible to cross stitch without these. But some of us have a hard time seeing small print, and an even harder time writing that small. So if you’re using embroidery bobbins, I highly recommend grabbing a set of these stickers, corresponding to the DMC colors. In fact, you will need these with the plastic bobbins because ink will not write on the plastic bobbins.

I love mine and use them with every new color I get. Make sure to press them on pretty good and they can last years in your organizer.

I have 4 of these! These are GREAT because they are small enough to fit in a tote bag, and large enough to fit over one hundred bobbins of floss. Which makes it easy to bring all that you need for even the most complicated projects, and still keep it all neat and organized. Two of the compartments are conjoined to make room for larger tools like scissors and needle cases and needle minders. This one comes with 100 floss bobbins, which looks like a pretty good deal.

It doesn’t really matter what brand of embroidery scissors you have. In fact, when you’re just getting started, any pair of scissors will do, really. Embroidery scissors have long, narrow blades that allow you to get really close to the fabric when snipping threads. I bought these because they were inexpensive and pretty. Purple is my favorite!

You don’t have to get ALL the goodies to get started with cross stitch. While I haven’t tried out this kit yet, I want to include a comprehensive kit for any one to start cross stitching without spending a lot of money. This nifty kit has everything you need. It has great reviews on Amazon and looks like the best bang for your buck!

This kit contains:

5 bamboo embroidery hoops of varying sizes
50 color threads
2 pieces of white cotton 14 count aida cloth
12 floss bobbins
30 embroidery needles in 3 sizes
4 cross stitch needle-threading tools
1 pair of scissors
1 thimble
1 stitch ripper tool
a set of instructions

This is another piece in your cross stitch tool box that is optional. If you’re like me and you use the fold-over method to thread your needle, you’ll never need one of these.

Learn the fold-over method to thread your needle.

Sometimes, though, the eye of that needle is just too small and you need a little help. I like this DMC 3 in 1 needle threader because it is more sturdy than those cheap “coin” needle threaders you see everywhere.

DMC launched a different way of organizing embroidery floss called Stitchbow.

I’ve tried the stitch bow system, and I continue to use little bobbins (because – change, ugh). 

You might like it because you don’t have to unwind the skeins.

This bundle comes with:

  • Stitchbow travel bag
  • Stitchbow binder inserts
  • Stitchbow floss holders

Use acid free tissue paper for longterm storage of cross stitch WIPs and other crafts.

The acid in regular tissue paper, labeling and the plastics that supplies come in can damage the fabric, causing ugly discoloration over time.

This pack is for 200 sheets.

Floss Bundles

Embroidery floss can get quite expensive if you purchase each skein one by one online. If you’re having trouble finding quality embroidery floss online, I recommend purchasing one of these DMC bundles.

All embroidery projects require floss! I have always used DMC floss for my cross stitch projects because I know the quality: The colors match, even from different dye lots;  the threads hold up to being pulled through fabric over and over again; and the colors never bleed when washing. And because DMC is the go-to brand for floss, nearly all patterns and pattern making software written in English use the DMC numbering system. It’s just simpler and easier, and that’s worth it to me.

This bundle totals 138 skeins of DMC cotton embroidery floss. Each skein has six strands and is 8.7 yards long.

 

In 2017, DMC came out with 35 new, vibrant colors. They fill in where some of the DMC shades were previously lacking, mostly with some new purples. I bought these because I have to have every color. But maybes that’s just me. 

This bundle totals 35 skeins of DMC cotton embroidery floss. Each skein has six strands and is 8.7 yards long.

Every is better with glitter! DMC took their 35 most popular colors and added a bit of glimmer.

 

Assorted 36-Pack

 

Pack of 36 skeins, Collectors Eddition

 

Assorted 36-Pack, Collector’s Edition

 

The Extra Fun Stuff

A few items that will help make cross stitch a bit easier, and some that will brighten your day.

Used for gridding your fabric and drawing patterns onto your cloth.

Goes on Fast! You can grid a very large piece of cloth quickly so you can get to stitching right away.

Can be used for other stitchy-related projects like drawing a design to embroider or creating cut-lines on a sewing project.

Less Expensive initially. A single water erasable pen costs less than a single spool of guideline wire.

Used for gridding your fabric.

No need to wash fabric to remove the wire

Quick removal – it slips right out!

Reusable.

Less expensive per project. While the initial purchase of the wire costs more, it can be re-used indefinitely.

Thread Magic is thread conditioner that can be used for hand embroidery or sewing machine projects. It’s designed to make threads more manageable by reducing tangling, twisting and knotting. There are wax conditioner’s available, but Thread Magic is silicone which means it won’t melt or freeze. The little bottle has grooves in the side to make it easier to slide thread through the conditioner, even as it starts to become depleted. This is virtually a MUST if you are working with metallic or glow-in-the-dark threads.

Ever wonder how to substitute colors? Or how to change that red dress to a blue one, while still maintaining the same level of shading? The DMC shade card can help! Each page is divided into colors in the same family, irrespective of the numbers. The version offered here contains the 35 new colors introduced in 2017, the Light Effects series, and the Metallic Pearl threads. Actual threads are attached to the card to help you choose just the right colors!

Super Cute!! I made a set of baby booties for my niece and my sister-in-law LOVED them. They make for a quick stitch. Snark it up with phrases like “Spit Happens” and “Poop Machine”

Trying out one of my 3D patterns? This is the stuff you need. I always recommend clear plastic canvas because it can work with any pattern.

Pinking shears are the fastest way to prevent your evenweave fabric or aida cloth from fraying. Learn how to use them in this tutorial.

Fabric glue is the easiest way to keep your evenweave fabric or aida cloth from fraying. Learn how to use it in this tutorial.

A grime guard helps protect your project from getting dirty by creating a layer between your hands and the fabric. They also help to keep excess fabric out of the way of stitching. Grime guards are super fun because they can be unique and personalized. You can even have a different grim guard for each WIP!

Use a Q-Snap like you might use an embroidery hoop. Only the Q-Snap does crease your fabric while still keeping it quite taught for stitching.

While I don’t use a Q-Snap, many stitchers I know wouldn’t ever stitch without theirs.

Gridded fabric can help you prevent miscounts, but gridding can be a pain in the butt! This fabric gives you the best of both worlds. The grid marks wash out with just water.

In this tutorial, I show you how to use a stick-back board for a quick and easy way to frame your cross stitch.

I used the Joanne fabric brand. But that brand isn’t very sticky.

So I use this one now from Amazon and it works much better!

Needlers minders are new to my craft box. They’re basically decorative magnets that attach to your project or to your chart while you stitch, to give you a safe place to put your needles when you’re not using them. I used to just use my teeth or the arm of my couch, but I’ve lost too many needles that way and switched when a friend told me she nearly swallowed hers! With the Parking Method, these will be especially helpful.

This is just a few examples of what’s out there and convenient to purchase. The BEST, most customized needle minders can be found on Etsy.

Organize your embroidery floss for a project on this beautiful, hand made floss card. Prevent your threads from tangling and bring your project anywhere.

While not necessary, framing your cross stitch with a mat will give it a professional look. Always use acid free to preserve your textile art.

This is for a set of 10.

You can use embroidery hoops to stitch with, or use them to finish your cross stitch. There are 2 reasons I use bamboo hoops:

  1. Bamboo is a renewable resource and biodegradable.
  2. They are easily customizable.

 

You can paint them, add washi tape, glue on pom-poms, they’re very versatile!

This set comes with 6 hoops, each a different size.

Sometimes going shopping bites! When I’d rather stay home and stitch while still in my PJs, I use Amazon Prime to get all kinds of stuff delivered to my door with free shipping. For me, it’s worth it! I’m not the kind of person to just buy stuff willy-nilly, and I find that the reviews help me decide from the many choices available. I’ve used Amazon Prime for years now and I always renew around Halloween so I have plenty of warning for the deals that come around the holidays.

Listening to audiobooks is a GREAT way to enjoy a little entertainment without having to look up from your stitching to watch TV. I listen to audiobooks all the time. I recommend the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. It’s like Harry Potter meets Game of Thrones.

There are a TON of cross stitch pattern books on Amazon. Many have Kindle versions that are a lot less expensive (and take up less room) than physical books. Which means you have more room for more craft supplies!

Cross Stitch Books

Geeky & Cheeky Patterns, Easy-to-Learn Techniques

If you like my cheeky stitches, you might also like Subversive Cross Stitch. Julie has a crass, bold way of getting her point across in colorful cross stitch. The majority of the patterns are easy, full cross stitch only – no complicated embellishments. The book also includes a brief how-to section to get you started. Great for beginners!

I reviewed this book and compared it to a few others. 

As a HUGE Star Trek fan, I totally geeked out when I saw this! If you have a Trekkie in your life, they will thank you for any of the 30 projects in this collection. I can’t wait to stitch one of the Star Trek insignia on a red shirt. lol

This book is also has a Kindle version.

I reviewed this book and compared it to a few others. 

This is the perfect book if you want to make cross stitch patterns with people, their families and pets. There are dozens of suggestions for everything from hair style and clothes, and literally thousands of possible combinations. There’s even sections in this books that teach you how to use stitches other than cross stitch to create hair and other textures. 

It might seem overwhelming at first, but everything you need to create portraits is here.

I reviewed this book and compared it to a few others. 

For beginners and experienced stitchers, this guide takes you through how-to tutorials and inspiration for stitching on unique mediums with different kinds of threads. It’s not meant to be a book of patterns, but rather a pathway to finding the art in modern embroidery.

Ok, not a book. BUT! If you’re not ready to make that kind of investment, try out one of the free patterns available when you become a Notorious VIP

A totally chill cross stitch pattern book. Great for beginners. Each pattern is simple and pleasing to the eye, with designs that will fit with any home decor. Cross stitch as self-care.

I reviewed this book and compared it to a few others. 

For Professional Stitchers

The tools I know and use to help me sell my art online.

Having an LED light has changed how I cross stitch. The yellow light most often found in our homes can distort how we see the colors of the floss. When 471 – very light avocado green and 472 – light avocado green start to look the same, this bright LED light helps me to identify the nuanced differences between close shades. I bought two and I also use them to create videos. It comes with a white and a yellow light diffuser for this purpose.

This model lets you control the brightness with dimmer settings from 01 to 99, and it never gets hot! It comes with a lithium ion battery, or you can purchase a DC power adaptor. It can be hand held or mounted any standard hot shoe like a camera or tripod.

An inexpensive standard tripod for use with your LED light, should you choose to purchase one. I positioned mine on the small table next to the couch where I sit. It’s light-weight which means I can easily move it around for taking pictures of my work or for video lighting.

This stand will hold lights, cameras, green screens and other backgrounds.

The AC to DC power adapter that will work with the LED light. Any standard 12v power adapter will do.

This has been a game changer for product photography. I used to spend 30 – 60 minutes on every picture of my completed cross stitch projects in order to enhance to look of my shop photos. Now, when I use this light box, the pictures come out already looking pretty professional and I spend maybe 5 minutes brightening and cleaning up the photos just a little.

It’s light and portable! And folds up easily into a thin carrying case so when I’m not taking photos, it doesn’t take up space in my craft room. 

I like to create video tutorials, time lapse videos and stitch-along videos on my YouTube channel. I use Adobe Premiere Elements to edit these videos because you get the most bang for your buck. Especially when purchased as a bundle with Photoshop. And this kit gets you 2 CDs instead of a subscription. It’s not hundreds of dollars, and it has all the bells and whistles I could possible need (or want!).

The tutorial included in the software is especially helpful, and there are plenty of tutorials for how to achieve certain affects on YouTube.

Software for cross stitch varies from free to hundreds of dollars. Sure, the free online software is handy for a quick flower or word or two, but most don’t have the capability for half stitches or back stitching. You can try graph paper, but you can only erase and redraw the pattern so many times before you’ve torn a hole clean through.

I like WinStitch because it has the most features and is definitely affordable. Turns out the Customer Service is stellar! <3

Download a free demo.

They have a Mac version, too!

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Just getting started and don’t know how to create you’re own cross stitch patterns?

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No worries, I’ve put together a bunch of free patterns that you can use to practice your cross stitch skills. Become a Notorious VIP and get whisked away to the Notorious Nook where these free patterns are waiting for you.

Stitch on!

Now that you’ve got all the materials ready, it’s time to get to stitching. Everyone who embroiders has an opinion about how to cross stitch, but I say throw all the “rules” out the window and just get to it. Practice is the best teacher! And to help you find what works best for you, I put together blog posts and tutorial videos to show you the EASIEST and SIMPLEST ways to start. So you can relax and ENJOY creating your fiber art.

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