Is Cross Stitching the Same as Embroidery?

Cross stitching and embroidery both hold their own special places in the world of needlework. With their intricate designs and mesmerizing patterns, they’ve captured the hearts of countless artisans. However, the question arises: Is cross stitching the same as embroidery? To delve deeper into this topic, let’s explore the unique characteristics of these two popular crafts.

Cross stitching is a specific form of embroidery that involves creating distinctive X-shaped stitches with thread on a woven fabric. This technique is typically used to create detailed patterns and pictures. The designs are usually based on a grid-like pattern and often involve counting stitches to achieve the desired outcome.

On the other hand, embroidery encompasses a wider range of techniques, using varied stitches and arrangements to produce decorative patterns on fabric. It may incorporate beads, pearls, and other embellishments, making it quite versatile and adaptable to various styles and designs.

While these two crafts share some similarities, such as the use of thread and fabric, it’s clear that they offer different experiences and results. Understanding the distinct qualities of cross stitching and embroidery can help enthusiasts appreciate the intricacies of both and decide which one suits their creative interests best.

Understanding Embroidery and Cross Stitch

Embroidery Overview

Embroidery is a decorative art that involves using a needle and thread to create designs on fabric. With a wide range of stitches and techniques available, embroidery allows for intricate and detailed patterns. Materials commonly used in embroidery include:

  • Fabric: Cotton, linen, silk, or synthetic materials
  • Thread: Embroidery floss, silk thread, or metallic threads
  • Needle: Embroidery needles of various sizes and shapes

Embroidery can be done either by hand or using an embroidery machine. Hand embroidery allows for more customization and freedom in design, while machine embroidery provides consistency and efficiency for larger projects.

Cross Stitch Overview

Cross stitch, a type of embroidery, involves creating an image or design using small X-shaped stitches. The stitches are created by crossing two threads over each other on a fabric that has an even weave. This enables the stitcher to create evenly spaced and consistent patterns. The materials used in cross stitch are similar to those used in embroidery:

  • Fabric: Aida, evenweave, or linen
  • Thread: Embroidery floss, typically with six strands
  • Needle: Tapestry needles designed for cross stitch

Cross stitch patterns can range from simple motifs to detailed landscapes and are often created using a chart or pattern that indicates the specific colors of thread to be used for each stitch. When working on a cross stitch project, stitchers usually begin in the center of the design and work outward, following the pattern’s instructions.

Both embroidery and cross stitch involve using needles, thread, and fabric to create decorative designs. However, while embroidery encompasses a broad range of stitches and techniques, cross stitch focuses specifically on creating images using the X-shaped stitch. By trying these techniques, one can explore the artistic possibilities of needlework and create beautiful, unique projects.

Fundamental Techniques and Materials

Embroidery Techniques

Embroidery is a needlework technique that involves using a needle and thread to create designs on fabric. There are two main types of embroidery: hand embroidery and machine embroidery. Hand embroidery requires the use of an embroidery hoop to keep the fabric taut while stitching, which makes it easier to create intricate designs. Various embroidery stitches are used in hand embroidery, such as:

  • Satin stitch: Smooth stitches used to fill a shape.
  • Chain stitch: A series of looped stitches creating a chain-like effect.
  • French knot: A small knot used for accents and details.

Machine embroidery, on the other hand, uses a specialized machine to create embroidery designs. This technique allows for faster production and more consistent results than hand embroidery.

Cross Stitch Techniques

Cross stitching is a specific type of embroidery that uses x-shaped stitches to form a pattern or design on Aida fabric. The Aida fabric features a grid-like pattern, which makes it easier to create even and consistent x-shaped stitches. The main technique used in cross stitching is the formation of these x-shaped stitches, but other techniques, such as backstitch and fractional stitches, can be used to add detail and definition to a design.

To begin cross stitching, you’ll need the following materials:

  • Aida fabric: Provides the grid-like structure for cross stitching.
  • Needle: A specific cross-stitch needle with a blunt tip is recommended.
  • Thread: Embroidery floss is used, typically separated into the desired number of strands.
  • Embroidery hoop: Helps keep the fabric taut while stitching.

Patterns, Fabrics, and Designs

Embroidery Patterns and Fabrics

Embroidery involves creating designs with various stitches and often includes different thread types and colors. Patterns for embroidery can be either printed on fabric or transferred onto it, allowing for more flexibility in design and customization.

Common fabrics used in embroidery include:

  • Cotton: This fabric is versatile and comes in various weights, making it ideal for a range of embroidery projects.
  • Linen: Known for its natural texture and durability, linen provides a sophisticated backdrop for embroidery designs.

In addition to fabric, embroidery requires specific supplies such as embroidery hoops, floss, and needles to achieve the desired dimensional look.

Cross Stitch Patterns and Fabrics

Cross stitch is a type of counted needlework that involves creating a tiled pattern using X-shaped stitches on a grid-like fabric. Unlike embroidery, cross stitch patterns are typically charted on paper or digital formats, guiding the stitcher to follow the precise pattern and colors.

For cross stitching, you’ll often find these fabrics:

  • Aida fabric: This is the most popular fabric with its evenly spaced holes, making it easy for beginners to learn and work on their project.
  • Evenweave linen: Similar to linen but with evenly woven threads, this fabric can provide a more refined appearance to cross stitch projects.

It is essential to choose the right fabric in cross stitching as it determines the count (stitches per inch) and directly impacts the pattern’s overall dimension.

By understanding the differences in patterns, fabrics, and designs, one can appreciate the intricacies and artistry in both embroidery and cross stitch as unique forms of needlework.

Supplies and Tools

Essential Embroidery Supplies

Embroidery requires some specific supplies in order to create beautiful designs. Here’s a list of essential items:

  • Floss: This is the thread used for embroidery. It is usually made of cotton, silk, or other fibers.
  • Wool or Crewel: These are thicker fibers used for embroidering a heavier texture on the fabric.
  • Sharp Needle: An essential tool for embroidery, used to pierce the fabric and create various stitches.
  • Hoop or Frame: These are used to hold the fabric tightly while you embroider on it. Hoops come in various sizes depending on the size of your project.

Embroidery relies on various stitches, such as the half stitch and needlepoint, to create intricate designs and patterns.

Essential Cross Stitch Supplies

Cross stitching, a type of counted thread embroidery, has its own set of essential supplies:

  • Floss: Similar to embroidery, cross-stitching also uses floss for creating designs. The main difference is that cross-stitch floss comes in skeins instead of spools.
  • Aida Cloth: This is the fabric used for cross-stitching. It features an even weave, making it easier to count the stitches.
  • Tapestry Needle: A tapestry needle is used for cross-stitching. It has a blunt tip, which prevents you from piercing the Aida cloth accidentally.
  • Embroidery Scissors: You’ll need a sharp pair of scissors to cut the cross-stitch floss neatly and accurately.

In cross-stitching, the main stitch used is the X-shaped stitch, which, when combined, forms lovely patterns and designs. It’s important to note that while some materials and supplies overlap in both embroidery and cross-stitching, the techniques and stitches employed in each are different.

Differences in Technique and Aesthetic

Embroidery vs Cross Stitch

Embroidery and cross stitch are both popular needle crafts, but they differ in techniques and aesthetics. With embroidery, there is more flexibility in the stitches used; it often includes a range of stitching techniques, from simple running stitches to intricate knots and loops. In cross stitch, the primary stitch used is the X-shaped stitch, creating a boxy and grid-like pattern.

In terms of texture and appearance, embroidery can produce raised and three-dimensional designs, while cross stitch is typically flatter. Embroidery allows for more intricate color gradients and thread painting, which uses various shades to create a detailed design. Cross stitch mainly uses a limited number of colors in block sections for its designs.

Suitable Projects for Each Technique


Some suitable projects for embroidery include:

  • Personalizing garments, like denim jackets and tote bags
  • Creating elaborate patterns on home textiles
  • Adding embellishments like beads, sequins, and ribbons
  • Utilizing embroidery machines for large-scale, precise designs

Cross Stitch

Counted cross stitch projects are ideal for:

  • Decorative pieces, such as wall hangings and pillows
  • Sampler patterns showcasing the alphabet, numbers, or quotes
  • Small, portable projects for on-the-go crafting
  • Grid-based designs such as pixel art or geometric patterns

Both techniques offer a unique aesthetic and cater to various preferences in needle crafts. Choosing between embroidery and cross stitch comes down to your personal style, desired appearance, and which technique you prefer to learn and use.

How to Get Started

Embroidery for Beginners

Embroidery is an art form with a wide range of techniques. For beginners, it is important not to feel overwhelmed and start with easier methods and materials. Here is a basic guide on starting embroidery:

  1. First, choose a flat, cotton fabric since it’s easier to work with, such as cotton or silk.
  2. Purchase some embroidery floss – it is available in many colors and thicknesses.
  3. Acquire a good pair of scissors for cutting threads.
  4. Learn some basic stitches to get started, like running stitch, backstitch, and satin stitch.

When you get the hang of these basic elements, you can slowly move on to more complex techniques.

Cross Stitch for Beginners

Cross stitch is a type of embroidery done on cross stitch fabric. It uses x-shaped stitches to create patterns and designs. To get started, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a cross stitch fabric, like Aida cloth, which has a grid-like structure that makes stitching easier for beginners.
  2. Get embroidery floss in the colors you need for your chosen pattern.
  3. Acquire a good pair of scissors and a cross stitch needle.
  4. Learn about reading cross stitch patterns, understanding symbols, and counting squares.

Once you’ve mastered these basics, you’ll be able to create intricate and beautiful works of cross stitch art.

Advanced Techniques and Styles

Embroidery Advanced Techniques

Embroidery offers a variety of advanced techniques for creating intricate and detailed designs. Needle painting is a style that involves gradually changing the color of the embroidery thread to create realistic shading. This requires a high level of skill and practice to achieve the desired effect.

Another advanced embroidery technique is the stumpwork, where raised, 3D elements are added to the design. Often, these elements include tiny beads, pearls, or even small wire structures, adding an extra level of depth and complexity to the project.

When it comes to stitches, the lazy daisy, french knots, herringbone stitch, and chain stitch are a few examples of intricate methods that can be employed to create unique patterns and textures. The satin stitch is also essential for creating smooth, filled areas in a design.

Cross Stitch Advanced Techniques

In cross-stitching, advanced techniques primarily involve working with different types of fabric, thread, and patterns. Cotton aida fabric is commonly used for cross-stitch projects, but some advanced stitchers may opt for more stiff fabrics to create intricate designs.

The colored cross-stitch chart is an essential tool for advanced cross-stitchers, as it allows for more complex and detailed patterns to be followed with ease. Additionally, experimenting with specialty threads, such as metallic, silk, or variegated threads, can add a unique dimension to a project.

Technique/StyleEmbroideryCross Stitch
StitchesLazy daisy, french knots, herringbone stitch, chain stitchSatin stitch, french knot
FabricVarious types of fabric, including delicateCotton aida fabric, stiff fabrics
ThreadsEmbroidery threadSpecialty threads (metallic, silk, etc.)
3D Elements/EmbellishmentsPearls, stumpworkN/A
Shading/Color Variation TechniquesNeedle paintingColored cross-stitch chart

Keep in mind that while there is some overlap between embroidery and cross-stitch techniques, each has its unique characteristics and challenges. By exploring these advanced techniques and styles, you can take your needlework to new heights, whether you are knitting, crocheting, or creating decorative designs on fabric.

Fabric Options for Experienced Stitchers

Woven Fabrics

Woven fabrics are an excellent choice for experienced stitchers. They come in various materials like cotton, linen, and silk. These fabrics provide a stable and even grid for precision stitching. Some popular types of woven fabrics include:

  • Aida: A popular cotton fabric with clearly defined squares, making it easier to count and work on
  • Hardanger: A Norwegian cotton fabric, commonly used for drawn thread and counted thread embroidery
  • Linen: A natural fabric with irregular spacing between the yarns, rendering a more casual, textured appearance


Lugana fabric is a blend of 52% cotton and 48% modal, resulting in a soft, durable, and easy-to-work-with material. It comes in different counts, usually ranging from 25 to 32. This fabric has even-weave, which makes it suitable for intricate cross-stitch and embroidery designs. Lugana is available in a wide variety of colors, including hand-dyed options, allowing stitchers to personalize their projects.

Jobelan Fabrics

Jobelan is a luxurious, soft, and easy-to-use fabric made from 51% cotton and 49% modal. It offers a unique drape and feel while maintaining an even-weave structure. Available in various counts, including 28 and 32, Jobelan is a popular choice for both cross-stitch and embroidery projects. Moreover, there is a wide range of colors to choose from, and the fabric holds up well to frequent handling, making it ideal for long-term projects.