If you’re a crafty person and wish to learn the difference between embroidery and cross stitch, read on. Embroidery and cross stitch embroidery are two different things, but they both involve a needle and embroidery thread. The differences are more noticeable once you get familiar with them, so learning about cross stitch vs. embroidery can help you decide which one is right for you.
There are a few differences between cross stitch and embroidery, and one of the main differences is that the stitches are counted in cross stitch but not in embroidery. This is one of the main reasons that cross stitch is also known as “counted cross stitch.”
What Is Cross Stitch?
If you look closely at the fabric used for cross stitching, you’ll notice tons of tiny squares. The fabric is called Aida, and it’s a little stiffer than a lot of the fabrics you use in other crafts. There is a number attached to the fabric, and it represents the number of squares per inch. The larger the number, the smaller the squares are. For instance, 18-point Aida fabric has much smaller squares than 14-point Aida cloth.
When you are sewing with the Aida fabric, you’ll be using standard embroidery thread. Embroidery thread is made with six strands of thread, and for cross stitch, you’ll be using 2-3 of those strands, depending on the look you desire. When you backstitch the design, which means outlining it once you’re done cross stitching, you’ll only use one strand instead of 2 or 3.
The needle recommended for cross stitch is a tapestry needle because tapestry needles have large eyes, which make it easy to thread them, and blunt tips, which make it easier to go through the stiff, thick Aida fabric. Aida fabric is roughly the same thickness regardless of the number of squares per inch, and it comes in many different colors as well.
When you are cross stitching over your Aida cloth, you’ll be making an “X” over the entire square, and you’ll do this for most stitches. The thread is pulled up from the back of the fabric and the needle makes an X over the tiny (or sometimes not so tiny) square. These X marks also look a little like crosses, hence the name of the stitch.
On each pattern, you’ll see a key that tells you what color to use for each square. For instance, a circle in the middle of the square might symbolize the color blue and a small dot might indicate the color pink. What you’ll have to be careful of is finding an X in the key.
Always keep in mind that in this instance, the X on the key indicates a certain color and not the type of stitch you’ll be using. In other words, most or all of your stitches will be made by sewing an X over the square in the fabric.
What Is Cross Stitch Embroidery?
Embroidery, or needlework as it is sometimes called, allows you to stitch over lots of fabric types. With the right pattern, you can embroider a design on denim, chiffon, cotton, and just about any other type of fabric. A pattern is usually ironed onto the fabric, and you use that pattern to sew your stitches.
As far as the needle goes, you won’t be using a blunt needle but a sharp one instead. For embroidery, it’s best to use crewel or embroidery needles, and the size you choose will depend on the pattern you use. Fortunately, these needles are very simple to find and in fact, they’re usually easier to find than the blunt ones you use for cross stitching.
In embroidery, you have tons of different stitches, unlike cross stitching, which most often requires the same stitch regardless of what the pattern looks like. Embroidery stitches can be loose or tight, spread apart or close to one another, but some stitches – including the French knot – can be utilized in both cross stitching and embroidery.
In some ways, embroidery is a little easier than cross stitching because there is no counting your stitches. There is still a pattern, but it doesn’t have to be sewn exactly as printed for the product to look good in the end. To be sure, if you hate the thought of continuously counting as you’re sewing a pattern, you’re better off going with embroidery instead of cross stitching.
Cross Stitch vs. Embroidery: The Main Differences
It was mentioned earlier that you’ll notice both similarities and differences when exploring cross stitch vs. embroidery. If you want to cross stitch, say, a towel, you’ll have to buy a towel that already has the Aida cloth on it because this is the only way you can cross stitch a pattern on an item such as a towel.
Embroidery patterns, on the other hand, can be sewn on any type of fabric since you don’t have to count squares and because they can be ironed right into the fabric itself. Not to worry, though, because there are tons of items that have Aida cloth on them and tons of patterns made specifically for those types of cross stitch items.
The reason embroidery is also called cross stitch embroidery is because many of the patterns use the X stitch just like cross stitch patterns do. Most people, however, simply call it either counted cross stitch or just plain cross stitch.
Some of the things you can make with cross stitch include:
- Tops of jars
- Cuff bracelets
Some people consider cross stitching to be more of a challenge than embroidery, both because you need special fabric to do it and because you have to count stitches. Once you get used to it, however, it’s never a problem and you’ll be doing them quickly.
Embroidery is a little easier to some people because you don’t have to count the stitches and because you can do it on just about any type of fabric. Many people even create their own patterns and designs when they embroider, which is a lot easier than you think.
You can also use a hoop to embroider with, which helps keep the fabric in place. When you’re cross stitching, you won’t need a hoop because the fabric is thicker and stiffer. Some cross stitchers use one anyway. The hoops are also good because you’ll be working with a different type of fabric each time.
In the end, cross stitched designs give you a square-like shape and an angular quality, while embroidery is more fluid and has so many different types of stitches that no two designs are ever alike. Both are used to make designs, letters, and monograms, so they are both very versatile types of crafts.
What Do They Look Like?
Because cross stitching involves counting your stitches and making X’s into tiny squares, the end product can look a little more uniform and consistent than cross stitch embroidery does. To some people, cross stitched designs have a rather neat and “mechanical” look, whereas embroidered patterns have a more “flowing” and loose look.
Both designs are attractive, mostly because embroidery thread comes in hundreds of colors and shades, so you can create beautiful creations with it. You can also create patterns with cross stitch if you like, and the easiest way to do this is to use engineering or mechanical paper because it is already made with a bunch of little squares on it.
Embroidery also allows you to add sequins, buttons, or beads to the design, and while this is also possible with cross stitching, it is a little more difficult. With both of them, you can combine two strands of embroidery thread of two different colors to add a little shade to the design.
When you’re learning the cross stitch vs. embroidery differences, there are both pros and cons, especially if you’re a beginner.
Beginners vs. Experienced Crafters
Neither cross stitch nor embroidery is particularly difficult, but your preferences will depend on your experience level and other traits. For instance, if you’re a very structured person who likes specific and very detailed processes, cross stitching is probably best for you. Thanks to the counted stitches, it is sometimes easier to follow the pattern than it is with embroidery.
For instance, if you’re looking at an embroidery pattern and a certain line has two different colors across it, how will you know which color to choose? With cross stitch, that won’t matter because each square will have a distinct symbol on it that lets you know exactly what color it needs to be.
On the other hand, if you don’t like that much structure, embroidery might be more fun for you to do. If you accidentally cover a space with a different color than you were supposed to, it will rarely matter. That being said, it’s still better to follow the pattern carefully whether you choose cross stitching or embroidery because you’ll want it to come out perfect when you’re done.
Can You Use a Machine?
If you choose embroidery over cross stitch, you can use an embroidery machine if you like, which does all of the work for you. If you choose cross stitch, this isn’t an option for you. In fact, many people who love embroidery buy an embroidery machine in order to start a business, and you can use these machines even if you aren’t a crafter.
Embroidery machines are very fancy these days. Many are computerized and they can have dozens of different fonts to make all sorts of designs. To be sure, if you’re interested in an embroidery business so you can make clothes, towels, and blankets, you can create things simply by maneuvering settings on the machine then letting it do its thing.
Also keep in mind that when people say “embroidery,” the term can refer to all types of needlework, so as long as you’re creating a design using a needle and a type of fabric, it can often be called embroidery. With cross stitch, that isn’t the case.
Types of Stitches You Can Use
When you’re researching cross stitch vs. embroidery, you’ll learn that there are many different types of stitches you can do for both of them. It was mentioned earlier than most cross stitching is done with an X sewn over the square, but there are other stitches as well. These include:
- Whole cross stitch
- Half stitch
- Quarter stitch
- French knot
In cross stitching, backstitches are done using only 1 strand of thread, and it makes the designs look a lot neater in the end.
If you design you want to embroidery, you’ll have stitches available to you such as:
- Straight stitch
- Ladder stitch
- French knot
- Satin stitch
- Stem stitch
- Chain stitch
The truth is, there are a lot more stitches to learn in embroidery than there are in cross stitching – roughly two dozen of them total. This is yet another reason why cross stitching can be considered easier to do than cross stitch embroidery. While it’s fun to learn all of the different stitches, it is also time-consuming, but you can be cross stitching much sooner because there are fewer stitches to learn.
Both cross stitching and embroidery are a lot of fun, and there are numerous differences between the two. If you’re a crafter, you owe it to yourself to learn one of these two activities. When studying cross stitch vs. embroidery, you’ll find lots of similarities and differences between them.
Cross stitching is the process of making X’s in tiny squares in a stiff fabric called Aida fabric. Cross stitch embroidery is looser and more fluid and consists of dozens of possible stitches. With the latter, you can even make designs such as birds, flowers, lettering, houses, and cars, all without giving the designs a “square” look.
Both cross stitching and embroidery have been around for a while and they are both much easier to learn than you think. They’re also both very inexpensive to get started with, so you won’t have to break the bank to enjoy them.