Glossary Terms

Tips, Tricks & Techniques - anything to help fellow cross stitchers.

Glossary Terms

by Rose » Tue Jan 02, 2007 3:51 am

I thought that this might be an idea for this forum to start I would be willing to contribute what I know and others could add on to my post and maybe Alex could put it as a Sticky somewhere so it would always be at the top of the section. It would also be nice if the Internet Sites post could be a Sticky so it is easier to find when needed instead of having to go through all the post since it was last added to.

This is only a suggestion for the site to grow.
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by Rose » Tue Jan 02, 2007 4:03 am

Terms of Cross Stitching....Materials

Aida: The most commonly used type of fabric for counted cross-stitch. There are many varieties. Threads are woven in groups separated by tiny spaces. This creates a pattern of squares across the surface of fabric and enables a beginning stitcher to easily identify where cross-stitches should be places. Aida cloth is measured by square per inch; 14-count Aida cloth has 14 squares per inch.

Evenweave: The popularity of cross-stitch has created a market for specially fabrics for counted cross-stitch. They are referred to as evenweave fabrics because they are woven from threads with a consistent diameter (exactly the same number of threads in each direction), even though some of these fabrics are woven to create a homespun look. Most evenweave fabrics are counted as linen is counted, by threads per inch, and worked over two threads. Evenweave fabric is worked over two threads for most projects. This means that working on a 28 count evenweave will produce the same size stitch as 14 count Aida. You can also work over one threads.

Linen: Linen is a fabric made with fibres from the flax plant.
Linen is considered to be the standard of excellence for experienced stitchers. The thread used to weave linen vary in diameter, giving linen fabrics a slightly irregular surface. The thread count of linen is measured by threads per inch, and most designs are worked over two threads, so 28-count linen will yield 14 stitches per inch. Linens are made in counts from 14 (seven stitches per inch) to 40.

Perforated Paper: Perforated paper is a thin card that is punched with a grid of holes. It is available in a 14-count and can be stitched just like aida. It is ideal for Victorian-style cards, tree decorations and children's mobiles. Use three strands for the best coverage and handle it gently because it can tear.

Plastic Canvas: Plastic Canvas is a rigid mesh of plastic to be stitched on. Ideal for making magnets or Christmas tree ornaments and for rigid projects like boxes and tags.. Comes in small sheets of various shapes and in various counts and sizes.

Vinyl-Weave: Vinyl-Weave (or Vinyl Aida) can be cut, shaped, and folded offering a novel approach to your stitchery projects! It does not ravel, wrinkle, or tear. It is great for mousepads, placemats, coasters, ornaments, magnets, and an unlimited number of small projects. Most acrylic items use vinyl-weave or vinyl aida for the stitching area.
Available in 6, 14, or 18 count and offered in a great variety of colors.

Waste Canvas: This is made to allow cross stitching to be done on non-evenweave fabrics. Waste canvas has counts of anything from 6 upwards, and can be used like Aidas or even-weaves. Threads held together by starch. The waste canvas is attached to the parent article, and cross stitched. At the end, the strands of waste canvas are pulled out, leaving the pattern on the parent piece. Extract threads with tweezers. Do not use a sharp needle or you will pierce the canvas and not be able to pull the strands out. Some encourage you to dampen the waste for removeal but I find it easier to pull when dry. Either way the results are the same as you are trying to remove the threads and leave the finshed work.

Jobelan: Jobelan is an evenweave fabric made from 51% cotton and 49% modal. It has very regularly spaced holes that are easy to see, making it ideal for a first project on evenweave. It drapes well and can be used for table linen as well as samplers and pictures. There are 53 shades to choose from in 28-count jobelan.
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by Rose » Wed Jan 17, 2007 1:29 am

Terms of Cross Stitching...Thread

Threads- Most cross stitch designs are stitched with stranded embroidery cotton. This is a divisible thread made up of six strands. Also called Floss.

Six-Strand Embroidery Floss- Embroidery floss is a cotton thread used for stitching. Floss has 6 strands, but usually you will use only 2 strands at a time for stitching and 1 strand for backstitching.

Yarn-A cord of twisted or spun fibres. A thick cord is known as string, or rope; a thinner, more pliable cord is known as yarn, and is often used in knitting and weaving; a very thin cord is known as thread, and is used in fine weaving and sewing. When using plastic canvas yarn is usually the thread of choice.

Skein-A skein is a bundle of six-strand embroidery floss about 8 yards long. The skein is held together by small paper tubes on which the brand and color number are printed.

ANCHOR - A popular brand of floss. One of the main three used in magazines and books. Available in hundreds of colours.

DMC - One of the most popular brands of floss. DMC also manufacture kits, which sell worldwide.

J&P - Not as popular as it once was but still a regularly seen floss for stitching.

Variegated thread-On a skein of variegated thread the color continually changes from light to dark and back to light again along the length of the thread. Also it can change from one color to another and back again, usually no more then 4 colors to one skein.

Overdyed threads- These are specialist threads where a pre-dyed single color thread is taken and 'overdyed' with other colors with stunning results.

Unbleached thread- Unbleached threads are available for stitchers wishing to experiment at dying their own threads

Metallic thread- Metallic thread is used to add sparkle to your work-very good for enhancing Christmas cards! Use a shorter length of thread than you would with stranded cotton, as it is more prone to knots.

Krenik-a popular brand of metallic thread. Easy to use and find found in bobbin form.

Filament- This is like a metallic thread that has been flattened. It comes in many colors, it glitters, and golds and silvers are popular. It is normally sewn using two or three threads of filament in a needle, or with one strand of filament and one or two strands of floss. It is known as a 'blending filament'.
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by Rose » Sat Apr 07, 2007 4:39 am

This site has some very good tutorials and information. Fabric Counter ect....
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by Rose » Wed Apr 18, 2007 1:23 am

Terms of Cross Stitching.....General Terms

Cross stitch- This refers both to the craft itself and to the type of stitch. There are 2 fundamental ways of sewing cross stitch: the Danish method - also called "here and there", where one completes a line of half stitches and then returns to complete the X; and the more traditional method where each cross is completed before starting the next one.

Counted cross stitch-"Counted" cross stitch is where the fabric is plain (unpatterned), and a pattern or design chart, the graph, shows where each stitch goes. The graph is a grid (of squares representing all the holes of the fabric) showing the relative position and color of each stitch. A legend shows the conversion of symbols used on the chart to the color numbers of the threads, beads, etc. to be used. This is sometimes called Full Counted Cross Stitch

Assisi-Is a type of work that uses a method known as voiding in which the background is filled in while the motif itself is left blank. Cross-stitch is used for the background and Blackwork Embroidery, i.e. Holbein stitch is then used to outline the motif and create the surrounding decorative scrollwork.

Blackwork-This is a type of counted stitches that are worked to make a geometric or small floral pattern. Typically done in one color Black hence the name but in more modern stitching times has come to be a style rather then a color choice. As it has evolved it has come to include large designs of flowers, fruit, and other patterns connected by curvilinear stems. These are outlined with stem stitch, and the outlined patterns are filled with geometric counted designs.

Charts-Most cross stitch designs use a chart. The chart is made up of grids of squares-each square representing one stitch.

A form of pattern showing the design to be stitched using symbols or colors (representing floss colors, beads, metallic threads and specialty material) on a graph. There are also supplied a legend, which is the listing of what colors of thread or other materials all the symbols mean, a list of materials and the instructions. This is known alternatively as a Pattern, Graph or Design.

Color key-The color key is the list of symbols and corresponding colors that are found on the chart. Most color keys will show the symbol, then the color number found on the skein of floss, then the name of that color.

Count-This refers to the number of threads or holes to the inch (linear) in the fabric. There are two major types: Aida normally comes in 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 threads or holes to the inch; Even-weave normally comes in 24, 26, 27, 28, 30, 32 threads of holes to the inch. Refer to Terms of Cross Stitching...Materials

Fractional Stitches-Using half, three-quarter and quarter stitches can make a great different to a project, enabling you to achieve realistic curves and outlines. Fractional stitches are also used to create more detail within a motif and more subtle shadings of colour.

Fractional stitches are all partly formed cross stitches, or, put another way, cross stitches with missing arms. The most commonly used fractional stitches are half-stitch and you will come across these quite frequently on cross stitch charts.

Gauge-the number of holes per inch (hpi) or threads. The higher the gauge, the finer the fabric. The "gauge" of fabric/canvas and type of fibres affect the size of needle, the type and number of strands of fibre used, the detail of the final design and the length of time for the design to grow!

Graph paper-If you wish to design your own pictures then graph paper is an option. You can buy ordinary graph paper from stationers or special cross stitching graph paper which comes in various counts such as 14- and 18-counts.

Hoop-An embroidery hoop is a round frame made of wood or plastic. This has an outer and an inner ring that hold your fabric taut while you are stitching. Stitching with a hoop can help to keep your stitches neat and even.

HPI-All cross stitch fabric comes in different counts or holes per inch (HPI). The count of your fabric determines the size of your finished stitching. The lower the count of fabric, the fewer stitches per inch, so the larger the design will be.

Kit-A kit is a collection of all the materials you need to cross stitch a design. Kits usually contain the chart, fabric and threads, specialty threads and beads, a needle, full instructions, and a picture of the finished item.

Loop Method-This method for anchoring floss only works for even numbers of strands. If you are using two strands of floss for cross stitching, start with one strand twice as long as you need. Fold it in half. Thread the needle so the two ends of the floss are near the needle and the "loop" is the end farthest from the needle. Pull the needle up through the fabric where you want to start your first stitch. Do not pull the floss completely through - leave the loop end dangling a little bit below the cloth. Pull the needle back through the fabric to complete the bottom "half stitch". With the needle back down to the underside, run it through the loop, and gently pull the loop tight. Continue stitching.

Needles-Tapestry needles are used for cross-stitch, as they are blunt, and have a bigger 'eye' for threading the floss through. As well as the more common nickle plated needles, you can also buy gold and platinum ones - although they do cost a bit more!

Size 24 or 26 blunt-pointed tapestry needles are suitable for 14- or 16- count fabrics.

11-count fabric - # 24 (use 3 plies)
14-count fabric - #24 -26 (use 2 or 3 plies)
18-count fabric - #26 (use 2 plies)
22-count fabric - #26 (use 1 ply)

Waste Knot-A waste knot is sometimes used when beginning a cross stitch. A knot is tied in the end of the floss. This waste knot stays on the top of the evenweave fabric, keeping the floss from being accidently drawn out as the first stitches are done. After the first few stitches are complete, the waste knot is cut away and the end of the floss is secured under the back of the stitches.
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by Rose » Tue Jul 03, 2007 1:18 am

Abbreviations or Slang Terms for Cross Stitching:

ATC-Artistic Trading CardsBAP- Big Ass Project

BF- blending filaments

BTW by the way

Confetti this term is used for individual stitches of one color that are surrounded by different colored stitches in an area. One stitch, one color, surrounded by different stitches of a different color. Seen in HEADs, Mystitc Stitches and other large patterns to create depth or shading.

CMH- Cross My Heart (designs)

CS- Cross Stitch (magazine)

CS & CC- Cross Stitch & Country Crafts (magazine)

CS&N- Cross Stitch & Needlework (magazine)

DD- Dragon Dreams (designs)
Dear Daughter

DS Dear Son

EMS- Ellen Maurer-Stroh (designs)

FAQ- Frequently Asked Questions

FTLOCS- For The Love Of Cross Stitch

Frog- Rip it out, or Rip it, Rip it, Rip it. When said fast sounds like a frog. This is what made some stitcher come to call removing stitches for whatever reason frogging.

FWIW= For What It's Worth

fyi- For Your Information

HAED Heaven and Earth Designs

iirc- If I Recall Correctly

imho- In My Humble Opinion

imnsho- In My Not So Humble Opinion

iso-In Search Of......then add what you are looking for

JCS-Just Cross Stitch (magazine)

jmo- Just My Opinion

JN- Just Nan (designs)

LA- Leasure Arts (designs)

L&L- Lavender & Lace (designs)

LK- Lizzie Kate (designs)

LNS- Local Needlework Shop/Store

ME- Machine Embroidery

MH- Mill Hill (designs and beads)

nxsr-Not Cross Stitch Related

OH Other Half

OOP(s)- Out Of Print(s)

ot- Off Topic

PhD Project Half Finished

pilf- Pattern I'm Looking For

piwtd- Patterns I Want To Do

PM- Precious Moment (designs by Gloria and Pat)

pm- Private Message

POL- Patterns OnLine (website for patterns)

RAK- Random Act of Kindness, an unexpected gift from someone you don't know or really don't know very well.

RR- Round Robin

rofl-Rolling on Floor Laughing

Stash Enhancement eXperience

SABLE- Stash Acquisition (or Accumulation) Beyond Life Expectancy

SAL- Stitch A Long.....This can mean a couple different things. In the original sense, A group of stitchers chose a single pattern to stitch. Then each stitcher decides what fabric color, size, and type; what color floss. Then all stitchers start at he sametime and try to do a specific amount in a certain period of 2X2 inches per week. Or if there pattern calls for it a specific section per week. Then the stitchers show each other there progress. Either by photos or getting together to show their progress and discuss what they have done. A second discription would be what we do here on our site. Each person decides on there next project, they can give a preview or they can just start and as they have some progress they take a picture and post it for all to see. Usually we give a few brief words of explanation as to what has been happening.

SB- Shepherd's Bush (designs)

SC- Stoney Creek (designs and magazine)

Startitis To begin a new project even though you have more then one project already on the go

TCS- The Cross Stitcher (magazine)

TIAG- Told In A Garden (designs)

tmi-Too Much Information

TW- Teresa Wentzler (designs and designer)

UFO- UnFinished Object (a started project that is not done)

USP- UnStarted Project

WIP(s)- Work(s) In Progress

WOCS-The World of Cross Stitching (magazine)

xs- Cross Stitch or X-Stitch
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by Rose » Sun Jul 22, 2007 6:10 pm

This site seems to be a good one for a quick reference for some of the different stitch descriptions. Not as detailed as some I have seen but it has quite a few different ones. Hope it will be a help to some of us.
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Re: Glossary Terms

by Rose » Mon May 26, 2008 10:17 pm

General Information

One over One
One over Two
Two over Two-these are terms you will find used when you are stitching on evenweave or linen. The first # is the amount of floss that you need to use(suggestion) the second # is the number of threads that you go over to complete a ful cross. One over two would be "one thread of floss stitched over two threads of material"
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Stitching on different counts

by Mabel Figworthy » Wed May 28, 2008 3:55 pm

As requested, one pansy stitched on 10 different counts/fabrics. Starting top left, they are:
22ct aida over two (so effectively 11ct)
25ct evenweave over two (12 1/2 ct)
14ct aida
28ct evenweave over two
18ct aida
36ct linen over two
22ct hardanger
25ct evenweave over one
28ct evenweave over one
36ct linen over one
The largest one is about 3cm high, the smallest about 1cm.
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Re: Glossary Terms

by Mabel Figworthy » Sun Sep 07, 2008 4:20 pm

Here are the terms from the Fabrics & Threads bingo, put into a slightly more logical order than when they were drawn from the hat :-).

Aida - The fabric that most people begin with when they take up cross stitch, this is a cotton blockweave, i.e. the threads are not woven singly but in groups. This makes the holes more defined and easier to see. It tends to be stiffer than evenweaves, and doesn't fray quite so easily -- oddly enough this makes it more suitable for "cut and fray" cards, where the fabric is stuck directly to the card, as the fraying doesn't go further than where you want it.

Aida comes in many colours, and in several counts -- the most widely used is the 14ct, but it is also available in 8, 11, 16 and 18ct. There is also a 22ct aida, which is a slightly different weave as the blocks are made up of two instead of four threads; it is in effect a stiff Hardanger.

For those who like to try different things, there is aida with a lurex thread running through it, or with pearl flecks; rustico aida, which is 51% cotton, 34% rayon & 15% linen and comes mostly in "natural" colours; Yorkshire aida, woven with 96% cotton & 4% polyester to give it a "heather-country" look; and linen aida, which is, as the name implies, aida woven from linen. All these you can find at Sew and So

It also comes as Aida band, in various counts (though 16ct is the most common) and widths, with or without a decorative edge; this usually has even more defined holes and tends to be floppier in texture.

Binca - A 6ct block-weave cotton fabric, often used to teach young children cross stitch (for example in these starter kits); also popular with people whose eyesight is failing but who want to keep stitching. Because the stitches are so large, it is usually worked with soft cotton, which is a thick indivisible thread. If stranded cotton is used, the full six strands are necessary for good coverage. Most web shops stock only neutral colours like white and cream, but Tandem Cottage have a range of attractive colours.

Hardanger - both a technique and a fabric, and as the title of the bingo suggests it's the latter we're talking about here (but I've included a link to the technique as well just in case you're interested :-)).

Always 22ct (unless anyone knows differently?), and woven in blocks rather than single threads, but where aida blocks are four threads, hardanger blocks are made up of two. It can be stitched over one, or over two if you like a chunky feel to your work -- in that case it's equal to 11ct, and a good introduction to evenweave for people who are used to aida fabric.

Have a look at the many colours available here or here.

Incidentally, Hardanger embroidery is often worked on fabrics other than Hardanger :-)!

Oslo - is basically a luxury version of hardanger fabric :-). Unlike hardanger it is made from mercerised cotton, which gives it a soft, drapey finish with a slight sheen. Very nice to work on! You can find it among other places at Tandem Cottage, Sew and So and Willow Fabrics (you'll have to scroll down for that last one).

Lugana - Zweigart's 25ct evenweave made up of 52% cotton/48% Rayon. It has a soft sheen and good hole definition, which makes it easy to work on. It comes in metallic as well, i.e. a neutral coloured fabric with gold or silver thread woven in, great for Christmas projects.

The other counts of this fabric are sometimes known by separate names: Bellana for 20ct, Brittney for 28ct and Murano for 32ct (although some sources claim Murano is actually 30ct). Zweigart's website now calls all these "Lugana" followed by the count.

See the many colours at Tandem Cottage, Sew and So or Willow Fabrics; or for hand-dyed Lugana look at the Sugar Maple fabrics.

Jobelan - one of my absolute favourites to stitch on, like Lugana it is a cotton mix; the difference is that it is mixed not with Rayon but with 49% modal. Modal, unlikely as it sounds, is made from reconstituted cellulose from beech trees. Well, of course :-). The fabric has a soft sheen, is relatively heavy and drapes well, making it ideal for things like tablecloths and napkins. It also has well-defined holes, making it easy to stitch on.

Jobelan comes in several counts, such as 16, 19, 25, 28 and 32ct; the most common one is the 28ct, which comes in a staggering variety of colours -- over 50 of them (and it still doesn't have the lilac I want -- isn't it typical :-)?). Like Lugana, Jobelan is often used by companies who hand-dye fabrics.

See the many standard colours at Tandem Cottage and Sew and So, and the hand-dyed colours at Polstitches

Annabelle - a 28ct 100% cotton evenweave with a slub like linen, i.e. the threads are of uneven thickness. Several online needlework shops recommend it for tableware and praise it for having a linen look while being easy-to-care-for like cotton. I like the fabric (I got a lovely bit of ice blue Annabelle in a fabric swap), but did wonder about their arguments -- my first thought was that cotton fabric with a slub meant the difficulty of linen without its durability :-), and I'm still not quite sure what the aim of its "inventor" was. If you've worked with it and think it's the bee's knees, let us know what makes it different from all the other evenweaves.

It is available in several soft, muted shades; the widest range can be seen at Sew and So

Quaker cloth - also known as Bantry, this is a 28ct evenweave with a fairly open weave. It consists of 55% linen and 45% cotton, and has the look & feel and some of the durability of linen but with few slubs or uneven threads, making it easier to work on. Now there's a useful combination :-)!

Like Annabelle, it comes in various soft colours; have a look at the range at Tandem Cottage.

Meran - a 27 or 28ct 60% Rayon (or viscose) / 40% cotton mix with a slub like linen; what will they think of next :-). Available in quite lively colours from Tandem Cottage.

Linen Fabric - technically one of the evenweaves, linens are usually classed separately. Apart from being generally less smooth than the other evenweaves, the main difference between linen and the cotton or cotton-mix fabrics is the "slub", which is "a slight irregularity in yarn produced either accidentally or purposely by knotting or twisting or by including uneven lengths of fiber in spinning".

In practice, this means that linen consists of thinner and thicker threads, so that the holes aren't all equally well-defined, and the crosses you make on it are not always of uniform size -- they may not even be perfectly square :shock: :-). This unevenness makes linen slightly more difficult to work on than other evenweaves; however, if you are stitching a "traditional" design, such as a sampler, linen is the obvious choice -- not only because it would have been the fabric used in the original, centuries-old samplers, but also because it ages very well.

The two main brands of linen are Zweigart and Permin (known as Wichelt in the USA); of the two, Zweigart is smoother and has a closer weave, while Permin is stiffer and more open. The choice is really one of personal preference.

Linen comes in as many counts as other evenweaves -- more in fact, as it is made in much finer counts than the cotton and cotton-mix ones. Zweigart names its linens according to their count, as follows:
20ct Cork, 25ct Dublin, 28ct Cashel, 32ct Belfast, 36ct Edinburgh, 40ct Newcastle, 55ct Kingston.
It comes in many colours, among them "vintage", which are given a colour wash to create a mottled effect (and I've just managed to buy 3 fat quarters of it on eBay for about a third of the regular price :dance:!), and it is also used in hand-dyeing, for example by Polstitches and Sugar Maple.

Afghan - not a type of fabric like Lugana or Jobelan, but a way of weaving/finishing it. Afghans are evenweave fabrics of relatively low counts (usually 14 or 18, so 7 or 9 count when stitched over two) with a grid pattern woven into it. Sometimes the grid consists of identical squares, in other cases a large rectangle is surrounded by smaller squares; this is the case, for example, in an Alphabet afghan, which has 26 squares surrounding a central panel.

The grid may be woven in the same colour as the fabric, or in a contrasting colour or colours; baby afghans, which are used as cot blankets or wraps, often have the grid woven in pale blue or pink or other pastel shades. A particularly colourful example is Rainbow Anne Cloth (scroll down).

Silk gauze - a pure silk fabric used for miniature embroidery. Because of the way in which it is woven it does not distort (the grid of the threads is always perfectly square) or fray, and because of the thinness of the silk threads the holes are relatively large, which means that much finer counts are possible than with ordinary stitching fabrics. Silk gauze typically starts at 32ct, and is widely available up to 60ct. The finest is 112ct :shock:, but unfortunately I have never yet seen it "in the wild".

Because there are so many stitches to the inch, the design is almost always worked using only one strand of cotton or silk, and in petit point (i.e. half cross stitch over one thread). Unlike with ordinary stitching fabrics, there is no need to use tent stitch as the threads interlock and so the floss cannot "disappear" between the weave. Because the weave is so open, you have to be very careful not to trail threads behind unstitched areas, as they will be almost as visible as the actual stitching.

It is used for mounting in decorative items such as jewellery, thimbles and teaspoons, and is also used in making rugs, pictures or upholstery for dolls' houses.

It is often sold stretched in a card frame for ease of working, and also comes in kits, often with silk threads. The following picture (copyright Elizabeth R Anderson) shows the open texture of the fabric:


Stitching paper - A firm favourite with the Victorians, stitching paper (also known as perforated paper or punched paper) is card punched with a regular grid of holes in 14ct. Unlike fabric it doesn't fray, and so can be cut into shapes, which makes it great for bookmarks and ornaments. Because the holes are larger than in fabric, generally 3 strands are necessary to get good coverage.

You can read more about it here, or see an example here (you may have to scroll down a bit).

Stitching paper is available in a range of colours, as you can see here (plain colours and metallic) and here (variegated colours).

Vinylweave - according to Wikipedia, vinylweave is an alternative name for plastic canvas. It isn't. Plastic canvas is a rigid material, whereas vinylweave (sometimes spelt as two words) is pliable and imitates the look of aida (in 14ct) or evenweave (in 18ct).

Because it is made of plastic, it doesn't fray and therefore can be cut into any shape you like; and because it is pliable, it can be inserted into rounded items such as napkin rings. It is mainly used for making things like fridge magnets, Christmas tree ornaments etc. These are also often made using stitching paper, but vinylweave has the advantage of not tearing. A slight disadvantage is that vinylweave doesn't come in quite the wide range of colours that stitching paper has; even so there is a fair amount of choice -- Tandem Cottage do the 18ct in white, yellow, pink, light blue and black, and Crafter's Market do 14ct in white, black, red, green and navy.

Like stitching paper, both vinylweave and plastic canvas are suitable only for designs without fractional stitches, as you cannot pierce the material to create the central hole needed for these stitches. If you are determined to use fractionals you could, of course, stitch over two, as long as you don't mind ending up with a rather chunky 9 or 7ct.

Plastic canvas - stiff plastic with a regular grid of relatively large holes. It comes in 5, 7, 10 and 14ct, and is available both in sheets and in shapes such as circles and squares. It can be cut to any shape, and as it is stiff (unlike vinylweave, which tries to imitate fabric) it can be used for making 3D projects (such as this jewellery box).

It is often used to start children off with cross stitch, as it comes in low counts, doesn't fray and doesn't need a hoop, and can easily be made into things like bookmarks or fridge magnets. T's Plastic Canvas site (yes, really) has a special children's section.

Because of its very open and "un-fabric-like" texture, it isn't suitable for designs which have unstiched areas. If you want to use such a design, you will have to fill in the background.

Waste canvas - Used to stitch on to non-count fabrics, like T-shirts, tote bags or sun hats, this is woven in double threads with well-defined holes between them; a coloured thread is often woven every 10 stitches to help with counting.

You tack a piece onto the item that you want to stitch on, stitch your design as usual (although you will have to use a sharp needle rather than your usual blunt tapestry needle), dampen the waste canvas so that the binding agent dissolves, and pull out the canvas threads one by one, until you are left with just the design. It's important to make sure you don't pierce the canvas with your needle, as that will make it difficult (if not impossible) to remove the threads when you've finished!

It is available in several different counts, e.g. 8.5, 10, 12, 14 and 18ct.

A tutorial about stitching on waste canvas can be found here; the material here and here

Stranded cotton - Unless you were started off with soft cotton on Binca as a child, this is probably the thread you did your first cross stitch with -- and which is used for the majority of your projects. Stranded cotton, known as floss in the US, is mercerised to give it a soft sheen, and is made up of 6 strands; depending on the count of your fabric and the coverage you want, you stitch with 1 or more strands at a time.

Although there are many brands of stranded cotton, some of which are considerably cheaper than others, it is usually a good idea to stick with the main brands, as these are guaranteed colourfast and durable. Most cross stitch magazines will give the shade numbers
for their charts for DMC, Anchor and Madeira.

Rayon - a stranded thread, 4 or 6 depending on the brand, which was developed to imitate silk. It has a very high lustre and is rather springy in texture, making it a bit more difficult to work with than ordinary stranded cotton. DMC has discontinued its Rayon range, substituting it with their new Satin range, which is not nearly as shiny. Other well-known brands are Anchor's Marlitt range and Madeira's Decora range.

An attractive alternative is one of the rayon/silk mixes like Rajmahal Art Silk or Oasis -- not so expensive as silk and a bit more well-behaved than Rayon.

Embroidery silk - the most luxurious of threads, often used in miniature embroidery and for wedding samplers. It has a stronger sheen than stranded cotton and is less springy than Rayon. The number of strands per thread depends on the brand and type: Au Ver à Soie's Soie d'Alger is 7-strand, whereas their Soie de Paris is 6-strand.

Silk comes in many shades and is often used for hand-dyeing and over-dyeing; examples are 6-stranded Dinky Dyes and 12-stranded Caron Waterlilies.

Of the main stranded cotton brands, only Madeira has a Silk range, which is 4-stranded and comes in 104 colours. Much less expensive than the other silks, it is an affordable introduction to this type of thread.

Flower thread - Also known as Danish flower thread or Blomstergarn, this is an indivisible cotton thread about the thickness of two strands of cotton. As it hasn't been mercerized, it gives a lovely matt finish. DMC had its own range of flower threads some time ago, but this has been discontinued, and Danish flower thread is rather hard to find in Europe. Sew and So sell overdyed Danish flower thread, and the Caron Wildflower range is a similar thread, but for the real thing you have to go to Australian or American sites; besides ordering threads, on the Scandinavian Stitches site you can read about its history and see a very clear shade card with all available colours.

Linen thread - a DMC range of 24 muted shades of six-stranded linen thread, with shade numbers equivalent to their stranded cotton; it is used like ordinary stranded cotton, but gives the project an antique, traditional feel, and is therefore recommended for samplers and the like. The thread feels quite coarse/rough compared to the usual cross stitch threads, but has a soft, almost "watercolour" look. Confusingly, Tandem Cottage marks them as "discontinued -- while stocks last" while Sew and So describes them as "a new innovation", mentioning only the first twelve shades but showing and selling all 24...

Perlé - Also known as Pearl Cotton, this is a single-stranded, lightly twisted thread. It is traditionally used for hardanger embroidery, but is also suitable for cross stitch, giving a slightly raised effect to the work. As it is highly mercerised it has a stronger sheen than ordinary stranded cotton.

It is available in four sizes, from heavier to finer no.3, 5, 8 and 12 -- stitching over two, use no.8 on 28ct fabric, and no. 5 on 18ct, taking care not to lose the twist which gives the thread its typical appearance.

Metallics - Threads which were developed to imitate precious metals such as gold and silver; these are still the basis of most ranges of metallics -- in fact some, like Anchor Lurex, are still only available in gold and silver. Other ranges, such as Madeira's Glissengloss Rainbow have branched out and are now producing sparkly thread in many colours; these are often also known as metallics.

Metallics come in many types and thicknesses, from Kreinik's #32 Heavy Braid and Ribbons which are mostly used for couching or free embroidery, to the very finest blending filaments, a length of which can be added to ordinary stranded cotton for a subtle shimmering effect.

Braid - a type of metallic thread. Two well-known brands are Kreinik and Rainbow Galleries. Tandem Cottage's site says: "Used alone they give a more defined metallic look than blending filament. Braids are available in a wide range of thicknesses (the bigger the number, the thicker the braid) - the thickness should be chosen to roughly match the thickness of surrounding grounding thread. There's a mind-boggling range of colours, including hi-lustre and even glow-in-the-dark!"

Rainbow Galleries' Petite Treasure Braid and Kreinik Very Fine #4 Braid give good coverage on 16ct and 18ct fabrics; Kreinik's Fine #8 is suitable for 11ct and 14ct. It also comes in Tapestry, Medium and Heavy, although these thicker ones aren't really suitable for cross stitch.

Blending filament - a single-ply, very fine metallic thread that can be used on its own but is often used with one or more strands of ordinary floss. Typically you would thread your needle with one or two strands of stranded cotton and one or two strands of the blending filament. This gives a metallic sparkle to your work but still has a solid "background" of ordinary colour. When used on its own it is very effective for backstitch/blackwork, or when using more than one strand it can replace metallic braid or thicker metallic threads for cross stitch.
Two well-known brands are Kreinik and Madeira Glissengloss. Other threads which can be used as blending filaments are Madeira no.40 and DMC no.278 (scroll down).

Japan thread - sometimes known as Jap, this is a type of gimp thread (a narrow ornamental trim) mostly used in Gold Embroidery. It consists of foil paper or thin metal foil wrapped tightly around a core thread. The thicker varieties are mainly used for couching, but the thinner ones can be used quite effectively in cross stitch and blackwork, although the wrapped outer layer means it has to be used with care when taken through the fabric.

It is a cheaper (and synthetic, therefore non-tarnishing) version of passing thread, which consists of thin wire or strips of real metal (gold, silver, copper etc.) wound round a core of cotton or silk in a matching colour. You can read about the various types of gold and Japan threads here.

The most widely available brand is Kreinik, which lists several thicknesses as well as Japan versions of some of their braids.

Soft Cotton - available from DMC and Anchor, this is a matt, indivisible 5-ply cotton thread, intended mainly for tapestry, e.g. for upholstery. Its manufacturing process includes combing and singeing to remove fluff, producing a soft thread that is easy to work with. For this reason it is a popular choice when introducing young children to cross stitch, as it goes well with Binca fabric and is easier to use than stranded cotton because it doesn't have to be separated before use.

Crochet cotton - is mainly used for, surprise surprise, crochet :-), but the thinner versions can be treated as an undivisible cross stitch floss (the finer the count you're working on, the higher the number of the cotton will have to be); they give a matt finish to your work unlike normal stranded cotton. Read all about it here; however don't believe them when they say sizes 40 and up are hardly ever used -- I've used no.80 with a no.13 needle (which I think is 0.8mm) for tiny doilies, and though fiddly it isn't as daunting as they suggest :-).
You can find crochet cotton at Tandem Cottage (scroll down), Sew and So, and many other places.

Crewel wool - as the name suggests this fine wool is used mainly for crewel work, a type of free embroidery. However, it can also be used for cross stitch on 14ct fabric (or 28ct over two), and possibly, though I have not tried this, on 16ct as well.

The finish is quite different from stranded cotton in that it is both matt and quite roughly textured. Although it comes in bright as well as more subdued shades, the effect is always less bright than stranded cotton. It works particularly well in Berlin Wool work patterns; the rosebud mentioned above was taken from a Berlin Wool work pattern and stitched in crewel wool.

A well-known and widely available brand of crewel wool is Appleton's.

Tapestry wool - Also known as Tapisserie wool, this is a thick yarn mostly used for, surprise :-), tapestry on canvas. Because of its thickness it is not often used for cross stitch, but it works quite well on low count fabrics such as Binca and 8ct aida, giving a more textured finish than soft cotton or stranded cotton. Can be used to good effect in cushions.

Ribbon - not actually used for cross stitch (at least not that I've ever seen), but sometimes used in combination with cross stitch to add texture and depth to a design; it is particularly good for making flower shapes. The use of ribbons in needlework is sometimes divided into two types, true ribbon embroidery and surface embroidery which uses ribbons. The difference is that ribbon embroidery takes the ribbon through the fabric, whereas in surface embroidery sewing cotton or stranded cotton is taken through the fabric to attach the ribbon, with the ribbon itself staying on the front of the fabric all the time.

Although several types of ribbon can be used, the majority of ribbon work is done with silk ribbon; a well-known brand is YLI. Another option is sheer organza ribbon, which is semi-transparent and gives a delicate look to the work. The ordinary ribbon you get from the haberdasher's can be used quite effectively in surface embroidery, but are a pain to get through the fabric (the voice of experience speaking there...).

Depending on the fabric and the size of the design, the width of the ribbons varies from 2mm to 15mm. Ribbon work can be combined with buttons or used to liven up a cross stitch design with scattered flowers or butterflies.
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Tent stitch vs Half cross stitch

by Mabel Figworthy » Mon Dec 08, 2008 10:39 am

Tent stitch vs Half cross stitch

Try visualising continental tent stitch as "going the long way round". You know how, when you do half cross stitch, the back of your work looks like rows and rows of parallel lines (horizontal if you are working vertically, and vice versa)? Well, when doing continental tent stitch you deliberately take the longest possible route between two half cross stitches. A bit like backstitch: you bring the needle up at that point of your stitch which is the furthest forward, and then you complete the stitch by going backward.

So instead of doing (green is your stitching, red is the direction the stitch goes in, the dotted part is the part of the stitch that's at the back of the work):


you do:

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Re: Glossary Terms

by Thursday Next » Sat May 16, 2009 12:22 am

Love this thread...I keep coming back to it for reference, less and less thank goodness, but I'm a little confused - what's the difference between a WIP and a UFO?
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Re: Glossary Terms

by Rose » Sat May 16, 2009 1:32 am

A WIP is something that you are actually working on and trying to finish A UFO is something you have started but set aside to finish later, later never seems to come about. :D At least that is how I feel about them.
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Re: Glossary Terms

by Serinde » Sun Dec 07, 2014 4:01 pm

With a hat tip to Mary Corbet:

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Re: Glossary Terms

by 19Roland19 » Sat Mar 07, 2015 2:36 pm

Water Soluble Canvas

Water Soluble Canvas DC90

Made from revolutionary material that dissolves in warm water! Each package includes an 8.5" x 8 piece of 14 - count canvas.
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