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This is the type of article, I wished I had found at the beginning of my reignited love affair with cross-stitching.
I used to cross-stitch when I was in high school, around 2002-2003, and back then all I needed was a blunt-end tapestry needle, random scissors, and a printed cross-stitch pattern with pre-selected floss. I did not do hoops or floss boxes from DMC, not to mention blank Aida canvases (I had no idea that counted cross-stitch even existed). And that was enough to keep me occupied, curled under a blanket with emo music in my ears, working on a pattern featuring a fancy bowl of fruit.
In 2020, when I revisited cross-stitch, I was shocked to see what you can get and how deep you can go into cross-stitch essentials. Cross-stitch tools have become insanely cool. But, at the end of the day, I did not go crazy. I do not like spending money on things that are not necessary and any pair of sharp scissors can cut thread. So back to basics, it was.
This is probably a good time to tell you that I use a pair of nail scissors with slim and sharp blades. Obviously, I only use that particular pair for cross-stitch and not for cutting my nails because, while I am descended from a long line of peasants, I know gross when I see it.
And this is what you should expect from this list.
This stuff is a basic first cross-stitch essentials toolkit meant to start you off on the journey of cross-stitching.
But Where in Vienna Do I Buy Cross-Stitch Supplies?
I got your back. Check out this list -> Where to Buy Cross-stitch Supplies in Vienna, Austria?
Cross-Stitch Tools for Absolute Beginners
The basic and essential cross-stitch supplies list for beginners:
- a tapestry needle with a blunt end
- a needle threader
- a pair of scissors
- a cross-stitch kit
Essential cross-stitch tool -> Needle
Can you use sewing needles for cross-stitch? You know, the needles that you will find in the cupboard, that you used years ago to fix a hole in your trousers? Technically, yes but they are not comfortable to use when stitching on Aida. Especially if your pattern calls for more than one strand – as the eye of the regular sewing needle is very small – but that’s rare, as most patterns are designed with 2 strands of floss for 14 count canvas. Two strands of floss are too thick to thread through the eye of a regular needle.
A cross-stitch needle, a tapestry needle if we wanted to use the right term, is much thicker and has a much bigger eye allowing you to use thicker threads. The needle for cross-stitch will also have a blunt tip – as the canvas you are working with is woven, you do not need to puncture it. You also want to avoid messing up your pattern by accidentally placing your stitches outside of the natural weave of Aida, which is much easier to do accidentally when your needle is sharp. You will get the tapestry needle from your local sewing supply shop or online. Some brands sell the needles in sets with different sizes but you can also buy just one needle.
What size needle do you need for 14-count Aida? A size 24 tapestry needle is the recommended choice.
Essential cross-stitch tool -> Cross-stitch Needle Threading Tool
This is the fanciest tool on the list, I promise. First of all, don’t you ever dare to use spit on your floss to make threading it on the needle easier. You should make sure you don’t contaminate your cross-stitch – dirt, dust, grime, and grease settles on the cross-stitch anyway, especially if it’s a longer project, and it will discolour the thread and/or the fabric. Here I want to remind you to always wash your hands before cross-stitching and you need to wash your cross-stitch before framing it.
A needle threader should really make it into your essential toolkit because it saves you the trouble of struggling with the thread. Trust me, it is absolutely worth getting a set of needle threaders. They are cheap too #lifehack.
Essential cross-stitch tool -> Scissors
Regular scissors will work for cutting your threads but they will be too cumbersome for more intricate scissor work, such as cutting loose ends hanging out of your cross-stitch’s back or even frogging – removing thread when you mess up.
This is why I recommend you buy a set of scissors with sharp tips and slim blades, which will be much easier to manoeuvre and get to the precise point on your Aida. Like I said earlier, regular manicure scissors work for me. You can get small, handy scissors from any cross-stitch supply store as well.
Essential cross-stitch tool -> Cross-Stitch Kit
If you are a complete beginner, I recommend you get yourself a printed cross-stitch set. That means the Aida fabric has the pattern printed onto it in colour. Ideally, the set also includes the exact threads you need for the project. Here in Vienna (and anywhere in the world really) you can buy simple counted cross-stitch sets with blank Aida and threads – the patterns are very easy to follow.
OR you get yourself a simple digital counted cross-stitch pattern – I have a bunch of easy counted cross-stitch digital patterns here – and buy floss separately.
Kreuzstich-Werkzeuge für absolute Anfänger – Cross-Stitch Tools for Absolute Beginners in German
- a tapestry needle with a blunt end -> die Sticknadel ohne Spitze
- a needle threader -> der Nadeleinfädler
- a pair of scissors -> die Schere or die Stickschere
- a cross-stitch kit -> das Kreuzstich-Kit or die Kreuzstichvorlage (Vorlage means pattern ). If you want to specify that you want a printed cross-stitch, mention the adjective “vorbedruckt” – pre-printed.
I hope this list will help you embark on your cross-stitch journey. Now go forth and browse my free modern cross-stitch patterns!
Banner photo by Casey Chae.