How to Cross Stitch on Linen

By eHow Hobbies, Games & Toys Editor

Cross stitching on linen will give your projects a traditional flair. Linen comes in as many colors as Aida cloth but creates a more heirloom look. Linen washes easily and lasts a long time. Stitching on linen is often easier because the fabric isn't so stiff and the needle glides more smoothly as it stitches. In fact, there really isn't all that much to it once you get going.

Prepare the linen. Linen frays more easily than Aida, so you need to treat the edges properly to preserve your work. You can whip stitch the edges of your linen using a similar colored thread, or you can apply StopFray or FrayCheck to your fabric. A fabric-safe tape around the edges works well, too. Masking tape will stop the fraying but will damage the fabric over the years.

Find your center just as you would on Aida. Fold the fabric in half horizontally and open. Fold the fabric again in half, this time vertically. Where the folds intersect is your center.

Hold the fabric in one hand. Use the other to begin the stitch. Start in the lower left corner. On Aida cloth you'd have four holes around a 't' of threads; in linen those 't' threads are much looser and it will seem like there are too many holes to choose from. Relax. Pop your needle in at the lower left corner of the center and count two vertical threads to the right (one will be right next to your needle). Pull up on your needle and thread.

Continue pulling up, being careful to leave about a 1/2 inch to 1/4 inch tail of thread on the underside. Now count two horizontal threads from the spot where you entered your needle. In the top right space next to your two vertical and two horizontal threads, insert your needle and pull, being careful to leave that tail.

Finish this first 'x', just to get yourself situated. Come up in the bottom right corner, two horizontal threads away from your last stitch and two vertical threads away from your first. As you pull the needle up, check the back of your work. Tuck that tail under this stitch to secure it. When you pull up on the needle all the way, the thread should hold.

Make your 'x' by inserting your needle into the top left hole. It's two horizontal threads up from your first stitch and two vertical threads away from your last. Pull the thread through. You've completed your first stitch on linen.

Be aware that normally, you won't stitch one 'x' at a time. Instead, stitch a row of half stitches and go back to complete them. You'll know you're doing it right if you have a straight line on the back of your fabric.