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Embroidery Vs Cross Stitch 

If you’re pretty much new in the embroidery sector then you probably be wondering what is the difference between cross-stitching and embroidering? Which is tougher: Cross stitching or Embroidery? Is Cross stitching the same as embroidering? This was also the case with me when I first stepped into the embroidery field. I initially thought both are the same; however, with time I learned both are different. 

There are so many definitions, related to both the terms, available online that they can get you really confused. In this article, I’ll comprehensively discuss the key differences between the two: embroidery vs cross stitch so that you get a clear idea of how both work. 

Moreover, I’ll also cover the definitions, the subtle distinctions between the two, and the frequently asked questions related to them. I’ll also tell you about which is tougher between the two in the frequently asked questions section.

What is Cross Stitching

What is Cross Stitching
Cross Stitching

Most beginners when they first enter the embroidering field, tend to think that cross-stitching is something very difficult. However, I can tell you from my own experience that it is the simplest form of embroidery. It has been in practice for centuries and is regarded as one of the easiest choices for newbies who begin their embroidery career

Cross stitch is nothing but an embroidery technique that uses X-shaped stitches for creating a design. It is mostly associated with embroidering words and used for framed artworks or one-sided objects. Cross-stitch fabrics are usually associated with counting the number of threads per inch on the fabric as the higher the counts, the smaller the stitches, and vice versa. Therefore, it is a type of counted thread embroidery which utilizes a tiled pattern

What is Embroidering

What is Embroidering

Embroidery is nothing but any kind of decoration that is done on the garment. It usually includes threads, fabrics, stabilizers, scissors, different types of stitches, and many other things that are required for embellishing the fabric. It can be said that it is more of a broader form that involves all kinds of embellishments, stitches, patterns, and designs to decorate the fabric. Cross stitching is also the form of embroidery that comes under the umbrella of hand embroidery.

There are two main types of embroidery. One is machine embroidery and another is hand embroidery. Both are done to create beautiful designs on the fabric. However, the former is done via machine and the latter is done manually via your hands by using threads and the needle. Both have their own pros and cons. 

Cross Stitching Vs Embroidery: The Difference Between the Cross Stitching And the Embroidering

Here are some of the main differences between the two: 

The Design Difference

Cross stitches are not as fluid as regular embroidery stitches. They kind of make more of an irregular shape that tends to look totally different from regular embroidery shapes as it produces angular quality design. They also, sometimes, form square-like shapes. 

As for the embroidery, there can be any sort of design, it can be rectangular, angular, circular, or square; thus there is no limitation on the design. However, the design varies on the type of stitch you are using. For example, if you are using raised embroidery stitch then the design produced by this stitch will be different from the design formed by continental stitch

One thing that you should bear in mind is that for embroidery, the design does not depend on the counting stitches. You can simply transfer the design to your fabric and use different types of embroidery techniques. On the other hand, you’ll have to count the number of threads for cross-stitching the design.

The Stitch Difference

Although for cross-stitch, you only use one stitch kind, you can certainly utilize 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 fully crossed stitches and also use backstitches too.

As for the embroidery, you can use a variety of stitches. There is no limitation of using the stitch type. However, the stitch type also depends on the design that you are making and also on the type of fabric that you are using.

Hoop Usage Difference

For cross stitching, you can use a hoop, but it really depends on the type of fabric. If you are using Aida cloth then it is not necessary to use a hoop because Aida clothes don’t stretch at all. Aida’s clothes remain secure even if you hold them under your hand.

For embroidery, embroiders mostly use hoops to keep the fabric secure while you embroider. Again, it depends on the fabric and type of embroidery if you want to use hoops. If you are doing machine embroidery then hoops are a must so that stitching is done properly. But, for hand embroidery, sometimes they aren’t necessary.

Keep in mind that there are different types of hoops, some have circular shapes, and others have rectangular shapes. However, both are used for keeping the fabric secure so that you can easily embroider.

Fabric Difference 

The type of fabric used for cross stitching is woven fabrics having a specific number of threads( horizontally and vertically) so that you get even stitches on the fabric. The fabric needs to have a grid system of holes through which the needles can pass, not pierce. Therefore, the go-to fabric for cross stitching is cotton Aida fabric. Aida cloth exhibits uniform holes throughout the fabric that lets you easily create x-stitches on the design. You can use printed patterns on the fabric or you can also create your own pattern.

You can also go for other fabric types as well such as Jobelan fabrics but if you are a beginner then better go for Aida cloth because it is perfectly designed for cross-stitching. You can also cross stitch on even-weave canvas and Lugana. However, these types must have even numbers of threads in order to perform cross stitching on them. 

For the general embroidery, there is no particular fabric that is associated with it. You can use any garment such as full cotton, linen, denim, or anything else. It just depends on your comfort level. However, there are different types of embroideries that require a particular fabric for stitching. If you want to know more about these types of embroideries and their particular fabric use then have a glance at types of hand embroidery.

Needle Difference

For general embroidery, you may use a sharp needle with a smaller eye. However, again, it will depend on the stitch type and fabric. Whereas, for cross stitching, you’ll mostly work with a needle that isn’t sharp but flat because you don’t need to pierce through the fabric; you just have to pass it through the holes(like in Aida cloth).

The Primary Difference

By now, you’ll probably understand that cross-stitching is just a subset of embroidery that uses X-shaped stitches for creating a design. For general embroidery, this is not the case; it is more of a broader term that encompasses all types, forms, and embroidery techniques.  This is the main or the key difference that you need to remember.


That’s it from me! I have tried to cover each and everything related to both terms. If there is anything you want to know, or if there is any query you want to ask, you can always comment below, and I’ll answer all your queries.  

Related Article: How to Embroider with a Regular Sewing Machine

Frequently Asked Questions

The answer is quite simple: It depends on you and your comfort level. However, the general embroidery encompasses each and every type of stitch. Plus, there are hundreds of general embroidery forms which can’t be discussed here. On the other hand, the cross stitching is quite simple, there is nothing complex about it. You can search online how it works.

There isn’t a big difference between the two. The only difference that occurs is in the number of strands of thread used. For cross stitching, embroiderers generally use 3 or 4 strands and sometimes 6 strands. On the other hand, for general embroidery, the floss depends on the type and form of embroidery. 

As mentioned above, for cross stitching the best fabric is Aida cloth. You can also use other fabrics which are mentioned above. As for embroidery, you can use any type of fabric, there is no limit on fabric. However, the type of fabric used also depends on the design, and work you are doing. Having said that, embroiderers very rarely use Aida cloth for embroidering because it has these holes that are only suitable for cross-stitching. 

No, both are different. Cross stitching is part of embroidering. Whereas, embroidering is a more general term that covers all the stitching types and techniques. You can also find more evidence from the above writing which has precisely differentiated between the two. 

There is no clear answer to it. Some embroiderers tend to use the clothes that are used for cross-stitching. While some don’t like to use them at all. However, there are many types of fabrics for general embroidering that you can use for embroidering. On the other hand, for cross-stitch, there are only limited options for fabrics for stitching.  If you want to know more about fabrics, here’s my guide on the best fabric for embroidery.

Related Article: The Brief History of Embroidery

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