BBB Accredited Business

© 2024 Embroidery Central

Cross Stitch Glossary

I know it can be overwhelming starting a new hobbies and the instructors are using phrases and words that have no meaning for you. So here is a quick listing of some cross stitch phrases too keep you informed.


Aida is a excellent cotton fabric, woven in blocks, giving obvious holes for the needle to enter, so it is ideal for the beginner. Aida has a squarish and more modern look than and linen. Aida normally comes in 11, 14, 16, and 18 threads or holes to the inch.

Back Stitch

Back-stitching is used to form a line of thread of a different color to the cross stitches that is used for outlining and highlighting.


This is the French word for 'white' and is the DMC name for that color, since DMC is headquartered in France.

Blending 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.


This a metallic fiber that comes in many sizes (thicknesses). Kreinik names them: #4- Very Fine, #8– Fine, #12– Tapestry, #16– Medium and #32- Heavy.


A form of pattern showing the design to be sewn using symbols or colors (representing floss colors, beads, metallic threads and specialty materials) 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.


This refers to the number of threads or holes to the inch in the fabric. There are two major types: Aida and Linen / Evenweave See Aida and Linen for more detail.


Counted cross stitch is where the fabric is blank, no pattern stamped or printed on the fabric. Stitches are added by following the patterns graph.

Cross Stitch

Cross-Stitch, stitch consists of 2 diagonal stitches, which together form a x, or cross. There are various ways you can do this, but you must be consistent about the direction of the stitches. If you start making a / and cover it with a \, all the stitches must have the upper stitch going \.


This color is similar to the color of raw silk, cotton or linen (cream).


"Embellished" cross stitch has some of the background, or the less significant parts of the design, pre-printed so that you only have to sew the main features in cross stitch.


This is a description of a fabric which is smoother than Aida or most linens. It is smoother because it is made of half natural fiber and half a man-made fiber like polyester. It usually has one strand between each hole as it is most like to the linens. Cross stitching is usually sewn over two strands of evenweave, in every other hole (over 2), because it has the higher counts - 24 to 32 threads per inch. Faces and hands are often sewn in every hole (over one) for more detail.


Mostly this refers to a type of cotton thread. It comes in skeins of 6 strands loosely twisted together, and with a color-coded number. It is normally sewn in cross stitch using only two or three strands in a needle. There is also silk, rayon, metallic and nylon floss. Floss is used as the main ingredient in sewing a cross stitch designs. Most cross stitch designs are sewn with only floss.

Half Stitch

This is one half of a cross stitch. Only one stitch is sewn and its direction is sometimes given on the chart. The other half to make the cross is not sewn. The half stitches are either just the single under or single top stitch of the cross stitch depending on the direction indicated on the chart, or their use. Examples of use are... Shadows - normally in the same direction as the top half of the cross stitching, or it can be the underneath of a backstitch when it goes in the opposite direct to the backstitch. Back ground shading- then they must all be the the single top stitch of the cross. This way they will match the top stitches of the cross stitches you have stitched in the rest of the design.


Jobelan fabrics are high-quality, easy-care evenweave textile materials that are great to use on cross stitch projects where you want an old-fashioned or elegant appearance. Because of its evenweave construction, Jobelan has an even number of threads running both vertically and horizontally. One advantage to evenweave fabrics is that they are softer than Aida. In fact, Jobelan is smoother and softer than Aida and most linens, and is a pleasure to work with.

It comes in a range of colors and usually can be found in thread counts of 18 up to 40. Since the thread count refers to the number of threads per inch, a larger thread count means your fabric will be finer in texture.


Linen offers a more “old fashioned” look to a piece. Traditional Linen has a very rustic look to it, especially in the more natural colors like "raw linen". It comes in several different counts from 18 up to 40 count. Linen fabric has a very "crisp" feel however it is a bit more challenging to use then Aidas. They require more skill to control the tension of the floss for even stitches. When stitching on Linen it is usually sewn two over two fabric thread. But for greater definition of detail you can stitch one over one.


Needlepoint is very similar to cross stitch, but it only uses half cross stitches. Most needlepoint designs are on painted canvases. The whole canvas is painted, and fully covered by stitching.

One over one / Two over two

This refer to how many floss fibers over how many fabric fiber. Usually revering to linens and even-weaves which are normally sewn "2 over 2". Some designs call for one over one, this happens when the designer wants more detailed definition for such features as faces and hands.


The 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.

Quarter Stitch

Quarter stitches are just that, it is a half of a half stitch. The little stitch ends in the center of the normal full cross stitch. They can go in any diagonal direction depending on what the chart says. They are usually used to soften outlines or where two colors meet. Hence on a linen that stitch is over one hole, not over two holes. This also means that when sewing on Aida, where there is no a hole half way, you have to come up through one hole, and pierce the needle through the thread, half way between the holes.


Stamped, Printed or Pre-printed cross stitch is where the design is printed on the fabric. You see the complete design as X's on the fabric. The legend (or graph) shows you what color to use for each X. All the stamped X's are sewn over so that they do not show in the end, and they usually wash out. This can be done on almost any material and you do not count holes. The crosses are usually much larger than counted cross stitch crosses.

Stitch Count

Stitch count is the finished size of a cross stitch design, the number of stitches top to bottom and side to side.

Tapestry Needle

Type of needle with a blunt point needle for cross-stitch.

Three-Quarter Stitch

The is literally a half-stitch plus a quarter stitch. Please see above for detail. I do the half stitch first, and then the quarter stitch.


Using two or more different floss colors in the same needle, usually one strand of each color. ( example: one strand of DMC 501 & one of 502).

Waste Canvas

This is made for cross stitching on pieces of cloth or clothing which are not made of fabrics suitable for cross stitching. Waste canvas has counts of anything from 6 upwards, and can be used like Aida’s or even-weaves. 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.

I hoped this has helped a bit in understanding what in the world cross stitcher's are talking about.

Happy Stitching!!!

Please Login to comment on this post.