It doesn’t matter whether you are a beginner or an experienced cross-stitch stitcher, there are always new cross stitch tricks you can learn to give your projects that increasingly polished look. But getting that professional look takes practice and skill, so here are three great tricks the professionals use to make their designs look better than the rest.

Trick 1: Great looking Front and Back Stitches

When you begin cross-stitching one frustrating aspect of the craft is a backside of your fabric that looks like someone threw down a ball of multi-colored floss. Some cross-stitchers just resign themselves to the fact that the back of their fabric will never look as good as the front while looking at those “neatnik” experts with envy. However, there are a few cross stitch tricks you can use to keep your back looking almost as nice as the front.

Master tidy cross-stitch backs by transforming messy stitches.

First, you can make extra effort to keep your stitches consistent. Use one method of stitching (English or Danish) throughout your whole piece. Using one method keeps the back of your piece looking as good as the front. Also, you can end your threads by weaving them under the same color. If there is not enough of that same color, try to weave it under a similar color in the back. Finally, you can avoid carrying your threads at all. Just end them and restart.

Cross Stitch Trick 2: Fabric that Lies Flat

After using hoops or holding your fabric, wrinkles can become a bane of your stitching existence. They are difficult to get out of any cross-stitch fabric, but often they are inevitable. You can use two methods to get the wrinkles out of your fabric, keeping it looking professional.

Conquer stubborn cross stitch creases with some hot and cold treatments.

One of the cross stitch tricks is to use heat or cold to get out the wrinkles in your fabric. To use your freezer, you can simply wet the fabric along the folds then slip it into a paper bag so it can lie flat. Lay the piece as flat as possible in the freezer until it is frozen solid. Removed it from the freezer and immediately iron it until it is thawed and dry. Then let it rest overnight on the ironing board before moving it. Also, you can wet the folds in the fabric and place it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Then iron it. Let the piece cool before you move it.

Trick 3: The Colonial Knot

One frustration for many cross-stitchers is the French knot. It is a difficult knot to do without it unraveling or coming through the back of the fabric — and forget all about using a delicate floss, such as metallic. Many stitchers also complain that they can never get all the knots to look the same size on the fabric. However, there is an alternative that will give your work a professional look — the colonial knot.

Both the French and colonial knots look similar, but one is slightly easier to do than the other. Image source: The Floss Box.

To do a colonial knot you place the needle behind the standing thread. Then you drop the thread over the needle, front to back. Push the thread toward the standing thread to form a loop. Pull the thread in front of the standing thread up and over the needle. This should create a drop toward the tip of the needle, to the left of where the first drop occurred.

Now you are going to follow the same cross stitch trick as the French knot. You insert the needle tip going over one thread toward the upper right. Then pull the working thread taut so the knot slides down the needle and rests on the fabric. Make sure the knot is tight. Finally, pull the working thread toward the left of the knot. Use your thumbnail (non-needle hand) to hold the knot while working the thread. Keep the tension on the thread and thumb on the fabric, bring the needle through to the back. You can release the tension a little just as the eye of the needle passes through the knot. But hold on to the remaining thread tension until the next stitch so that the knot is maintained.

And there you have it. Three great tricks performed by the professionals… and now you too.

John Wigham has been a professional author and editor for 20 years and is a co-founder of an online cross stitch club dedicated to counted cross stitch. The website features many dedicated cross stitch articles and cross stitch patterns all available for download by the members. In addition to the lively discussion forums, a series of in depth cross stitch tutorials and interviews with leading cross stitch designers is about to be launched. The patterns Patch staff comprises a team of experienced writers and stitchers who are passionate about cross stitch and enjoy writing about their hobby.

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