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The 6 Basic Cross Stitch Supplies for Every Project

The 6 Must Have Cross Stitch Supplies

I love cross stitch because you don’t need to spend a small fortune to get started.

A newbie can buy all the must have cross stitch supplies for $25 or less.

but there are a lot of ‘extras’ out there…

I’m talking about products marketed to cross stitchers that aren’t true essentials.

Extras are fun, and sometimes really useful.
But that doesn’t mean you should buy #allthethings when you haven’t even finished (or started!) your first project yet.

Let’s cover the just the basics right now!

the 6 must have cross stitch supplies are:

  1. Fabric
  2. Needles
  3. Floss
  4. Scissors
  5. Pattern
  6. Hoop

The Essential Cross Stitch Supplies

#1. fabric

Of course! You need something to stitch on!

The most common kind of cross stitch fabric, especially for beginners, is Aida cloth.

Aida cloth is an evenweave fabric – meaning it’s made up of threads that are the same size. This creates a grid effect, with little holes arranged in horizontal and vertical lines. It has a natural stiffness to it – Aida won’t drape when hanging, unlike a piece of cotton or linen.

All Aida fabric is described by “counts.”
The count tells you how many cross stitches will fit in each linear inch of fabric.

That sounds complicated, I know, so here’s a picture:

Aida cloth counts example with cross stitches

All of these are 1 square inches of Aida, but with different counts.
The smaller count numbers (on the left) result in bigger squares on your fabric, which means bigger stitches.
The bigger count numbers (on the right) have much smaller squares, which means smaller stitches.

14 count Aida is by far the most common size of Aida cloth.
But, patterns can vary – so check before buying your fabric!

#2. needles

Stabbing is half the fun of cross stitch, so you can’t forget the needles!

I use the plural form because typically you don’t buy just one needle – they’re sold in packs.
One needle is usually enough to get you through one project.
As long as you don’t lose it. Or break it.

I recommend buying size 24 tapestry needles.

Because cross stitchers aren’t piercing the fabric while we stitch – we’re only going through holes already there – we don’t need super sharp needles.

Tapestry needles have blunt points, and a bigger eye to make them (a little) easier to thread.

And take the word “blunt” with some caution.
They won’t draw blood if you accidentally touch the tip as you stitch, but you definitely don’t want to step or sit on them!

Size 24 needles are great for stitching on 14 count Aida.
As with Aida, as the number on the needle package goes up, the size of the needles decreases.

So small number = big needle.
Big number = small needle.
It’s weird, I know.

#3. floss

You can cross stitch with just about any kind of thread.
Yarn, pearl cotton, and you could even use sewing thread – if you felt like it.

Basically, you just have to be able to fit it in a needle and make x’s and you’re cross stitching.

What most people use for cross stitch is called stranded cotton floss.

(FYI: I will often use the words “thread” and “floss” interchangeably. Floss is simply a type of thread.)

DMC is a really common brand and it’s what I use in all my patterns.
I use + recommend it because it’s a great balancing act: good quality for a reasonable price – PLUS it’s easy to find at the big box craft stores.

There are many, many brands of cross stitch floss out there though, and it’s pretty easy to Google for color conversion charts.

DMC’s skeins are made up of six individual strands loosely twisted together.

When you use stranded cotton thread, you’ll want to separate out the individual strands.

Most cross stitch patterns don’t use all 6 strands on the needle at once – 2 strands is probably most common.

#4. scissors 

You don’t need fancy scissors to cross stitch.
As long as your scissors are sharp enough to easily snip embroidery floss, you’re good.

But if you know that all your scissors are so dull they couldn’t cut butter, it’s time to invest in a new pair.

Embroidery scissors are go-to cross stitch supplies because of their smaller size.
It’s a lot easier to get them right next to your work and make accurate cuts.

There’s many different sizes + types of embroidery scissors.

You can find teeny scissors that are great for taking your projects on the go, like these 2.5″ Tiny Snips by Tamsco (below, left).
They’re so incredibly cute, and totally perfect for cutting thread + they fit just about anywhere.

Embroidery scissors for cross stitch

Most embroidery scissors are a smidge larger, though. I really like these 3.5″ Basic Embroidery Scissors from Premax (above, right).
This is my go-to recommendation for a first pair of embroidery scissors. They’re durable, sharp, and an insane value for the price!

Of course, there are TONS of cute scissors.
You’ve probably seen the classic stork embroidery scissors, but did you know now you can find rabbit, chicken, and unicorn scissors too?
Plus, handles come in tons of colors, prints and patterns.

Scissors can quickly become a cross stitcher’s favorite accessory (or obsession)!
But you definitely don’t HAVE to own 5 pairs of snazzy embroidery scissors – especially when you’re just starting out!

#5. pattern

Sure, you don’t need a pattern to make cross stitches on fabric.
But unless you’re insanely gifted at translating things you see in your head onto squares of Aida, patterns are required cross stitch supplies!

Free Cross Stitch Pattern from Purple Leaf Designs

Click that picture to grab yourself a free copy of my butterfly pattern!

Many people like to start with free patterns, which is understandable.
It probably feels like less of an investment into a new hobby.

But if you think about the amount of time you’ll be investing, it’s better to buy a pattern that you’re absolutely in love with. Many beginner patterns – especially those by independent designers – range from $3 – $10.

And there is a cross stitch pattern out there for every person and every occasion. Seriously.

If you don’t believe me, go search Google and Etsy for your term + “cross stitch pattern.”
You’ll find something!

If you’re a beginner, make sure your pattern is beginner friendly.
Some people are totally fine with a first project that’s the size of a small child, but most new cross stitchers want something that they’ll actually finish.

Check the pattern to find out the size, the number of colors, and the stitches you’ll need to know to complete the project before you buy it!

#6. hoop

This one is debatable.

Some people, like myself, just cannot stitch without a hoop.
Others find it irritating to hold the hoop and it makes the process less enjoyable.

I think every beginner should try it both ways.

Hoops make it so much easier to keep your tension equal by keeping your fabric taut for you.
All you have to worry about is being fairly consistent with how tight you pull your stitches – because the fabric’s tension is controlled by the hoop. 

So, what size hoop do you need?
It depends on the pattern you’re stitching.

I like to stitch designs that use hoops as frames once you’re done stitching, so my patterns tell you exactly what size hoop to buy.
This works great for me, because I like to center my fabric in my hoop just once and then stitch!

Check your pattern specs, and balance the needs of the design with what you’re comfortable holding.

There are MANY different kinds + types of hoops.

In most craft stores you can find inexpensive wooden hoops, and slightly more expensive plastic hoops.

The wooden hoops are great if you’re going to frame your project in the hoop.
Plastic ones are often re-used for more than one project.

There’s other types of hoops you can buy – typically online – that are more of an investment, but well worth it if you enjoy the hobby!

what about everything else?

There are lots of other tools that I use every time I cross stitch – and many I feel like I can’t live without!

But if I could technically stitch without it, I didn’t include it.

I want cross stitch accessible to new stitchers – so keeping the shopping list shorter + cheaper is my goal!

And to keep things super easy, grab a beginner cross stitch kit from the Purple Leaf Designs shop with ALL of these essentials!

What do you think of this list?
Is it what you consider the absolute must-have cross stitch supplies?
Reply and let me know in the comments!

The 6 Must Have Cross Stitch Supplies

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