DIY Cross Stitch Embroidery

Monogramming, linen and embroidery . . . these are just a few of my favorite things. When Tricia Rose, founder of Marin based European linen company Rough Linen, recently showed me her impressive collection of monogrammed, cross stitched kitchen towels, I immediately implored her to teach me her ways. After all, there isn't much that Tricia can't do or make. Needless to say, after my first attempt at cross stitching, I'm hooked. I finding the need to embroider everything. There's something so much more substantial about cross stitch embroidery compared to other embroidery stitches I've tried in the past. It has a beautiful, storied feel and it can withstand years of launder. I'll be honest - it definitely takes time and a few frustrating mistakes but the end result is so worth it and this is the perfect portable, multi-tasking craft (I actually shot this tutorial on a flight from San Francisco to New York last week). I hope it give it a try and if you reside in the Bay Area, scroll down for details about an intimate cross stitching workshop I'm hosting next week!

You'll Need:


The first thing to do it cut a piece of waste canvas, just a couple inches bigger than your design. If you look closely at the waste canvas, you'll see that it's made up of square grids, larger ones bordered by a grid of smaller squares. The upper left, upper right, lower left and lower right corners are the holes through which you will be stitching. Using a permanent marker, mark your design square by square. If you're copying a motif, just count the number of squares, one horizontal square at a time.


Once you have your motif marked, align the waste canvas to your linen piece and stitch it on with long straight stitches. You can also pin it in place with a few pin needles.


Cut 12-18 inches of embroidery floss and separate the floss into 3 2 strand pieces. Thread one set of 2 strands through an embroidery or cross stitch needle and double knot one end. Bring the floss through the first hole - the upper left corner of the grid. Bring it down to the lower right hand corner of the grid.


The key here is to keep going in one direction - you'll eventually go back in the opposite direction to complete your cross stitch. Once you've reached the end of a row, go back in the opposite direction - go up through the upper right corner and down through the lower left corner.


Continue stitching.


If you run out of thread, double knot it from the backside and start a fresh strand.


Once you've completed your design, remove the stitching.


Cut as close as you can to the design and then with your fingers, pull out one vertical strand at a time. And then each horizontal strand at a time. And voila! You're done!!

Northern California!! If you're in the Bay Area next week, please join me at Rough Linen for an evening of cross stitching. Sign up HERE to save your spot!! It's going to be a blast and perfect opportunity to get a head start on those personalized holiday gifts.

images by HonestlyWTF, tutorial courtesy of Rough Linen, Orkney Linen Tea Towel by Rough Linen

Leave a Comment


  1. Rena wrote:

    Super lovely idea!
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

  2. Michelle wrote:

    That looks so beautiful! I love that we are embracing ‘old’ crafts like cross stitch embroidery again. I really want to try that!

  3. Selma Goldman wrote:

    Would like to cross stitch a table cloth. Where in Florida can I purchase a stamped cloth.. Any help? Thanks

    • Marlene wrote:

      Brilliant. I have convent linen that is perfect for this project.

  4. Kay wrote:

    You NEVER make a knot on the back of cross stitch. You run the thread under stitches. Also, there is no need to draw the design. You can simply count the squares from the pattern.
    I’ve been doing this for 45 years!

  5. Belinda wrote:

    I would love to know what font this is!

    • Erica wrote:

      Oh, I wish I remembered. I think I searched ‘cross stitch fonts’ online.