Picture to cross stitch or tapestry chart or kit

A guide to How To Stitch tapestry and cross stitch

cross stitch thread
tapestry wool

Half-stitch front





Cross-stitch embroidery is used to create pictures, that could be framed, used in card making, or turned into decorative objects, such as key rings, bookmarks or many other items.


Cross-stitch is traditionally done with stranded cotton. Photo-Stitch use Anchor stranded cotton to make up your kit. The threads consist of six strands. You will need to separate the strands out and stitch using just two of the strands together.



Traditional cross-stitch is done using Aida, which is a woven fabric of a grid pattern. Many designs only have the main image in the picture stitched and the rest of the fabric left blank. Others choose to stitch the background as it can give a more ‘complete’ design. It is up to you to decide how you want to stitch your image and Photo-Stitch will design it to your specifications. Aida is available in many colours and counts. You will have the choice of Aida colour for your kit. We offer antique white, which is good for paler designs, or cream, which is better for medium to darker designs. The Aida in your kit will be 14 ct (14 holes per inch) or 16 ct (16 holes per inch).



Needle – It is best to use a blunt pointed needle for cross-stitch. Photo-Stitch will supply you with a size 24-needle in your cross-stitch kit.


Frame – We recommend that you use a frame to keep your aida taut as you stitch.





Tapestry embroidery is most commonly used for cushions, pictures, wall hangings and seat covers.



Tapestry is stitched using tapestry wool. We supply Anchor tapestry wool with your Photo-Stitch kit.


Tapestry is most commonly worked on a double thread canvas, where the stitches are made through the large holes in the canvas. Canvas is available in different sizes, measured in holes per inch. Photo-Stitch uses a 10-count canvas (10 holes per inch) for the half-stitch kits and 7-count canvas (7 holes per inch) for full-stitch kits.


Traditionally the whole of the canvas is covered in stitches for tapestry works. Therefore as the canvas cannot be seen when the piece is finished, it does not matter what colour it is. For this reason we only supply white tapestry canvas.



Needle – A blunt pointed needle should be used for tapestry work. Photo-Stitch supplies a size 18-needle with all their tapestry kits.

Frame – We recommend that you use a tapestry frame to keep your canvas taut as you stitch.

Types of stitch


Half Cross-stitch

Most common stitch used for tapestry. It is made up of small stitches that are diagonal on the front of the canvas and vertical on the back. All of the stitches should be in the same direction. Half stitch is easy to do and is shown in the following diagrams:

Full Cross-stitch

This is made by stitching crosses, a diagonal stitch in one direction with another diagonal stitch in the opposite direction on top of the first stitch. The bottom stitches should always be in the same direction therefore all the top stitches should all be in opposite direction. If you have many stitches of the same colour, it is better to stitch a row of half crosses and then go back and complete the cross stitches. The diagram uses two different colours to illustrate the two levels of stitches, these would usually be the same colour.

Your Chart

In your kit you will have your design chart, and a symbol key. The key will tell you which colour to use for each symbol. To follow the chart you will need to count your stitches to match the chart.


Starting to stitch

You may find helpful to mark the center of your fabric. One way to do this is to thread a piece of waste cotton through your fabric to form a cross in the center of the material. When your design is complete, you should be able to carefully remove this waste thread.


Where possible stitch dark colours first, leaving lighter colours till last. Also try to stitch larger areas first. Your threads should not be longer than 50cm. If it is too long, it will wear too much as you sew.


As you start with a new piece of thread or wool, leave a couple of inches behind the fabric. When you have completed a couple of stitches you can then use your next few stitches to hold the loose end in place by stitching across it. In the diagram showing the locking stitch, the grey wool has been secured by the orange stitches.


Try not to take your thread or wool too far across the back of your fabric. If the next stitch is more than a couple of inches from the last stitch, then finish where you are. Cut the thread and then start again with the new stitch. This keeps the back of your work tidy and not too bulky.


Finishing your thread - when you reach the end of a piece of thread (about two inches) run the thread with your needle under completed stitches on the back of your fabric.


thread for cross stitch
wool for tapestry

Half-stitch back


Locking thread