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How to do the Loop Start for Cross Stitch

Loop Start Tutorial ◦ easily begin cross stitch projects

Ah, the loop start – my single favorite cross stitch trick.
Seriously. If there’s only one thing you learn from me – I want it to be this technique!
(Well, other than the fact that perfect has no place in cross stitch).

It’s one of those things I wish I’d known when I was learning, because it really is so much faster + easier than the other methods.

so, when should you use it?

Always. It’s just THAT awesome.
(Okay, so not really a legit answer, I get it.)

Use it whenever you’re stitching with an even number of strands.

As you’ll see, you double the number of strands that you start with – in the end you’ll always have an even number of strands on your needle.

If you start with 1 strand, you’ll be stitching with 2. Start with 2? You’ll have 4. 3 turns into 6.

Having said that – it doesn’t work if you want to stitch with 1 or 3 (or any other odd number) of strands. It also doesn’t work if you want to stitch with 2 strands but you want to blend two floss colors.

Many projects call for 3 strands on 14-count for “ideal” floss coverage.
I don’t care. I always pick 2 or 4 strands just so I can use the loop start.
It’s THAT awesome.

Once in a while I’ll find a thin, 1 strand backstitch line that will just look weird if I double it.
I’ll stitch those with the one strand using the traditional method (aka holding the tail down awkwardly and stitching over it).

Planning on stitching along with this tutorial?

Here’s what you’ll wanna grab:
Aida (or other fabric), needle, floss, scissors + pattern (optional)

loop start in 7 steps

  1. Cut DOUBLE your normal floss length
  2. Pull out one strand
  3. Fold the strand in half
  4. Thread needle with “tail” end
  5. Bring needle up through fabric
  6. Put needle down making first stitch
  7. Put needle through loop and tighten

This spiffy graphic illustrates all the steps + keep scrolling for more details!

Loop Start for Cross Stitch Tutorial

STEP 1: Cut Floss

Cut a length of floss from your skein that is DOUBLE the length you comfortably stitch with.

I stitch with a length of 18” so I’ll cut a length of 36” (18 times 2).
Of course, you do you.

STEP 2: Separate Strands

This step goes back to what I mentioned earlier – you’ll always end up with an even number of strands on your needle with this technique.

If you want to stitch with 2 strands, separate one strand.
If you want to stitch with 4 strands, pull out 2.
And so on.

Tip Icon

Pull out ONE strand at at time, smoothing the rest of the strands in between.
It seriously reduces tangles.

STEP 3: Fold Strands

Fold your strand(s) in half.

You now have an end with a loop.
Were you wondering where the name “loop start” came from?

We’re calling this your “loop end” – original, right?
The other side has the cut ends of the floss. This is the “tail end.”

STEP 4: Thread Needle

Thread the your needle with the tail end.

How much you pull through is entirely up to you.

If you pull too little through you might find you’re accidentally unthreading your needle as you stitch. You might also have a hard time with knots because the floss is longer.

If you pull too much through you’ll be constantly adjusting as you stitch.
Or, if you forget to adjust it, you may accidentally start stitching with the “tail” end.
You’d notice this because all of a sudden your stitches will be really thick.

It’s really personal preference and it takes a bit of practice to figure out what works for you.

STEP 5: Bring Needle Up

Bring the needle up through the fabric from back to front

This means the loop end will be on the BACK side of your work.
This is important, because when we’re done we want the loop hidden on the back.

Don’t pull too much floss through yet. We need that loop to hang out until we can anchor it.

STEP 6: Put Needle Down

Put the needle down into the fabric, making a leg of your first stitch.
FYI: this works for many other embroidery stitches not only the cross stitch.

Don’t tighten the stitch yet!

STEP 7: Anchor Loop

Flip to the back of your project so you can see what you’re doing.

Put your needle through your loop end of floss.
Pull to tighten it.


You just completed the loop start and your floss is anchored!
Wasn’t that super simple and quick?!

A few more tips + tricks

If your floss isn’t snug after tightening, you can wiggle the loop with your needle and pull a few more times. I usually have to do this if I’m using 4 strands (vs 2).

Once you’ve followed the steps your floss really is secure – it’s not going to go anywhere.

However, you don’t want to put your needle back in at either hole you just used or you risk undoing it. You can use those holes again, just make at least one stitch elsewhere first. 

You’ve actually made half a cross stitch while following along with this tutorial! Woohoo!
Keep going with this tutorial and learn to make a full cross stitch!

And if you need a pattern to stitch, this butterfly is totally free when you join my email list.Free Cross Stitch Pattern from Purple Leaf Designs

What do you think?

Will this be your go-to method for starting all your projects?

Are you in love with it as much as I am?

Reply and let me know in the comments.

Cross Stitch Loop Start Tutorial

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