Cross Stitch Vs Embroidery: What Are The Differences Between These Two?

What are the differences between cross stitch vs embroidery? Cross stitch is a type of counted thread embroidery that is worked in counted stitches on needlepoint or even woven fabric. 

Embroidery is the art of decorating materials, often cloth but other materials are also used, with needlework using threads to produce decorative designs. It can be done by hand or machine. Hand embroidery is generally worked on fabric, such as linen or cotton, with a loose weave to allow the fibers of the thread to pass through easily. 

Here, we will give you our Cross stitch vs embroidery reviews in 2021!

What Is Cross Stitch?

Cross stitch vs embroidery

Cross stitch, also known as counted thread work or embroidery in cotton, is often used to make fabric decorations. The cotton should be woven in a manner where the threads are not too hard or loosely spun to prevent ripping or tearing. 

Counted thread is often preferred by cross stitch designers because the lack of fabric weave makes it easy to see individual stitches or colors. The most common type of counted thread work is cross-stitch, where one strand of colored thread is used on a single piece of fabric. Cross stitch patterns are typically printed on paper and can be viewed by stitching over two threads.

Stamped Cross Stitch

Stamped Cross Stitch is the simplest type of counted thread work, where the color and positioning of the stitches are printed directly onto fabric using a stamp. Stamping is usually done with wooden blocks which have patterns engraved on them, or rubber stamps can be used to apply ink to cloth. 

Stamped cross stitch patterns are not always accompanied by symbols, so it requires attention when counting stitches to ensure that the design is stitched correctly. 

Drawn thread work creates counted stitches using the threads of one piece of fabric, which are clearly visible even when not filled in with color. It is possible to stitch without any printed pattern by simply pulling threads from a piece of cloth and making cross stitches separately, but it takes more time and effort than using a pattern. 

Drawn thread work is also known as counted cross stitch because the vertical and horizontal stitches used are usually counted to ensure that they are evenly spaced.

Counted Cross Stitch 

Counted Cross Stitch is simple and can be done by beginners and advanced stitchers alike! The only tools needed are a needle, floss or woolen yarn, and a cross stitch pattern. If you need additional help, we offer free cross-stitch lessons.

Create a pattern by selecting symbols from the color key on the paper pattern to get started with counted cross stitch. Count out how many strands of floss or woolen yarn you will need to use for each symbol and cut a thread length. If using dark-colored thread against a light background, make sure to change directions often, so the color change is less obvious.

Thread your needle with floss or woolen yarn length, making sure there are no knots in the thread. If using two colors, separate them, so they do not get tangled when threaded through the needle. 

Starting at one side of the fabric, begin following the pattern, pulling each stitch tight before moving on to the next. If using a pattern, do not begin stitching until the symbols have been identified and the color key has been deciphered.

Keep your stitches small and tight as you work through each design. Use one hand to hold the fabric taut while the other pushes the needle in and out of the fabric. When finished with a stitching line, push the needle off to one side of the fabric and bring it up again about an inch away.

What Is Embroidery?

Embroidery is the process of decorating fabric or other materials with needle and thread or yarn. The term originally referred only to needlework done in a tent stitch. Still, it is now used to refer to a broad range of decorative textile arts, including cross-stitch, whitework, canvas work, applique, beadwork, etc.

Cross stitch vs embroidery

Hand Embroidery

Hand embroidery is a type of needlework that is done by hand or machine. Hand embroidery has been around for centuries, and it is commonly done on fabric, such as linen or cotton, with a loose weave to allow the fibers of the thread to pass through easily.

The history of embroidery is usually worked with a thread that is thicker than the sewing thread, followed by washing and even ironing to get rid of all wrinkles on the cloth.

Before deciding to do hand embroidery, you need to know what material will be best for your project. Every fabric has characteristics that make it a better or worse fabric for hand embroidery.

A good example is linen and its use in cross stitch, and it’s perfect for doing stitches perfectly because of its high thread count and tight weave.

Machine Embroidery

Machine embroidery is a method that uses a sewing machine that has been programmed with decorative motifs. The machine is used to sew a pattern of embroidery stitches on a base fabric accurately and with consistency.

The cross stitch is usually worked on an even weave fabric, such as even-weave cotton or silk. The denser the thread count on the cloth, the better results you will have for your stitching.

But there are exceptional projects that can be embroidered on fabric with an open weave, such as jute or linen.

In both cases, you can use different stitching patterns for machine and hand embroidery to create your design or choose from some of the existing ones. 

Methods Of Embroidery

There are several basic methods that can be used when embroidering.

Cross stitch vs embroidery

Crewel (surface embroidery) is done with yarn and can be used to create bold designs for decorative purposes. It is the most common type of surface embroidery. The design is usually outlined first, then filled in with different types of stitches, creating a pattern that does not cover the entire area. It can be used to depict characters and objects, as well as geometric patterns.

Tent stitch – the stitches are done in straight lines and follow each other at right angles. The needle’s path forms small squares or rectangles. It is commonly used to outline shapes and fill them in (for example, edges of blankets, lettering).

Back Stitch – this method involves using one continuous thread/yarn and is done by passing the needle through the same hole several times before it moves forward to its starting point. It can be used to fill in shapes and cover larger areas.

Statin Stitch – this method involves using one continuous thread/yarn and is done by securing the thread on the backside of the embroidery, then passing the needle through the fabric on top of it. It is similar to a backstitch but more closely resembles a running stitch than a basting stitch.

Straight Stitch – this method involves using one continuous thread/yarn and no knot, making it very easy. The stitches are done in a straight line and do not cross over each other. It is commonly used to create bold designs for decorative purposes.

Stem Stitch– this method involves using one continuous thread/yarn and securing the end on the backside of the embroidery. Unlike backstitch or satin stitch, it has an angular look and results in a zigzag pattern.

Blanket stitch – this method is done by securing the thread/yarn on the backside, then passing it through to create a circle. It is used to decorate fabric edges and edgings. One straight part of the stitch starts by passing the needle through to create a small loop, then passing it through this loop before pulling it all the way through.

Catch Stitch – this method involves using one continuous thread/yarn and securing both ends on the backside of the embroidery. It creates stitches resembling straight lines with loops (like securing the thread/yarn on the backside, then passing it through to create a circle). It is commonly used to sew stretchable fabrics together. 

Whipped stitch – this method is done by securing the thread/yarn on the backside of the embroidery, then passing it through a line multiple times to secure it. This creates a raised effect because it has loops coming from the fabric’s surface. It can be used for straight lines or curved ones and can also be used to decorate fabric edges and edgings.

Cross Stitch Vs Embroidery: Main Comparison 

Cross stitch vs embroidery


The main difference between cross stitch and embroidery is that while both are counted thread crafts, cross-stitch utilizes one strand while embroidery typically utilizes two strands.

For cross-stitch, the two strands of floss used for stitching should be six to eight inches in length. These strands come from a center-pull skein of floss or an “old” two-ply ball or skein where the pulled strand comes from the middle of the original ball/skein.

For embroidery, it is typical to have several strands at one time for stitching. Typically these are about 24 inches long, and there may be as many as seven strands used. To keep the bottom strand from tangling, stitch behind it or use a piece of floss called a “leader.”


Typically, cross-stitching is done on fabric called Aida cloth. Aida cloth has square holes that are one-eighth of an inch both horizontally and vertically. A typical piece of cross-stitch fabric is 14 count (this means there are 14 squares per linear inch). That makes the finished project one-half inch bigger than the pattern.

For embroidery, the stitches are usually worked over two rows of threads. The thread that is on top of the fabric is called the “waste” linen, and it typically can be pulled out.

The bottom strand (or “cross”) is more permanent and may need to be removed by hand or with a small needle. Because of this, embroidery is typically done on a fabric called Aida-piqué. Aida-piqué has holes that are slightly bigger than one-quarter of an inch which does the finished project about one-fourth larger than the pattern.

Type of Woven

The other differences include the height of the stitches in each craft; the fabric being worked on for cross stitch tends to be cotton, while embroidery can use any type of woven natural or synthetic fabric.

Weave Structures

The designs for cross stitch and embroidery can be worked into a variety of weave structures, including very fine grids and larger than average open spaces that give the finished work an almost three-dimensional appearance when tweezers or other tools are used to pick up the threads for storage so they won’t get lost.

Number Of Stitches

One difference between the two crafts is that embroidery designs typically have an even number of stitches, while cross stitch only has odd numbers. This gives the finished work a more symmetrical appearance, and it also means that when working with even weave fabric, one strand holds an even number of weft threads while the other holds just one thread for every two.

When working with an odd weave fabric, the design is more likely to appear symmetrical because one thread holds an odd number of weft threads. However, symmetry is less important in cross stitch designs than it is in embroideries that have a woven grid effect or appearance.

Cross stitch vs embroidery

Type of Stitches

Generally, cross stitch is done with one type of stitch. This is the half-stitch where both threads are pushed into the fabric at once, creating a space that looks like a square.

Embroidery stitches can be either counted or freehand, and there are many different ways to make them. Common embroidery stitches include the cross-stitch, stem stitch, blanket stitch, and satin stitch.

Color Scheme

Another difference between the two crafts is that there are no limits to the number of colors used with embroidery. It’s common to go beyond just one thread color for stitching because you can make a design more interesting by adding more colors.

On the other hand, only two strands of floss are normally used in cross stitch (although more can be used). Each strand holds one or two colors of thread that stay separate throughout the stitching process. One strand is typically for the background, while the other is for filling in details on top of that fabric.


Both cross stitch and embroidery are done using floss, but there are some differences. Embroidery floss is also available in many colors that are not available for cross stitch.

Embroidery floss is often sold in skeins instead of the six-strand cards used for cross stitch. This makes it easier to separate out a certain number of strands when you’re stitching because you can pull out just the ones you need rather than having to pull out six or more strands at a time which can get tangled.

Cross stitch floss is also sold in skeins, but these are not separated, so it’s possible to use all six strands at once when stitching, although this only works well with even weave fabric.

Both cross stitch and embroidery floss are made from 100% nylon filament, but it’s difficult to tell where one thread ends, and the other begins on some types of work. Embroidery floss is typically sold in cotton or silk blends which can give it a more distinctive color that makes it easier to use just one strand at a time.

Finishing Stitches

When the embroidery or cross stitch is finished, it’s important to make sure all of the thread ends are securely locked into place, so they don’t come undone later. This should always be done before starting a new design because it can’t be undone.

After finishing the last stitch, take an embroidery needle and thread it with about 18 inches of floss. Push this through the backside of all the stitches to secure them inside the fabric so they won’t come loose later. Embroidery experts suggest pulling each strand four or five times to make sure the thread is fully locked in place.

For cross-stitch, you can also use a needle or floss to lock in the ends, or you can knot all of them together by pulling each strand so it’s knotted with another one.

In both cases, cutting off excess thread close to the fabric leaves a small tail on the backside. You can use your fingertips to make this tail disappear, or you can double over the thread and run it through the back again with a needle so that there’s no sign of thread on the front side.

Cross stitch vs embroidery


There are many differences between embroidery and cross-stitch, but one of the biggest is how designs are drawn out because each one is worked differently.

With cross stitch, an evenly woven piece of fabric is used along with the chart showing where to put each thread color. This chart also provides the symbols for stitching the letters and designs.

When doing embroidery, it’s possible to work directly on muslin or even on a piece of fabric that’s already been sewn together. This is, in contrast, to cross stitch where the fabric is always in one piece before stitching begins unless making a pillow cover or other item that has separate pieces.

With embroidery, different colors are stitched simultaneously, so it can be much easier when working with more than one strand of thread at a time. It’s also possible to switch between different colors in mid-stitch when necessary with this method.

Some cross stitchers choose to stitch on pre-sewn, even weave fabric, but they must use all six strands at once, and there is no way to add details such as shading without getting uneven results from the multiple strands.

One major downside of embroidery is that it takes much longer to complete a design because stitching with more than one color means there are many more stitches to make, which can mean spending hours on end working on a simple item like an ornament or bookmark.

It’s possible to work on cross stitch and embroidery at the same time. When doing this type of hybrid work, cross stitching is usually done first and then embellished with embroidery to add the fine details that can’t be created using a simple counted pattern.

Stitching Method/ Stitching Technique

With cross stitch, you must follow a pattern and mark where each color goes with a different symbol. This means that the amount of space each strand covers will vary depending on how large or small the design is.

Embroidery is worked much more by eye, so it tends to have an overall look that can be very similar from one project to the next. With this method, all strands are usually worked out equally, with each one covering approximately the same amount of space on the fabric.


Cross stitch vs embroidery

How do I find a pattern for cross stitch or embroidery? 

Besides the differences in stitching, there are also differences in finding a pattern for cross stitch and embroidery. The first thing to do is to determine if you want an original pattern or a picture of something like a square. If you want an original pattern, you can make your own patterns based on pictures of other patterns that exist out there. 

What features should a good sewing machine have?

The best sewing machine for cross stitch and embroidery should have a zoom function, a needle threader, and an automatic needle stop. It should also have a high weight limit so that it can handle bulkier materials like fabrics.

Are there any tricks to making my work show up better on fabric using an embroidery hoop?

Yes! If you have a hoop that is smaller than the area of your fabric, wrap some thread or yarn around the back of your fabric and tie it tightly to the hoop. This will help to keep your fabric from moving around.

What’s the best way to stitch on heavy fabrics using embroidery hoops?

If you’re stitching on thick or rigid material, make sure that you use a large hoop. You’ll also need a longer needle with a large eye and strong thread-like embroidery floss. 

Cross Stitch Vs Embroidery: The Winner

Cross stitching is better for beginner crafters because it is easier to start with. Cross stitching does not need a sewing machine, which means you don’t have to spend money on equipment. If cross stitch sounds too complicated, there are so many free patterns available online.

Embroidery is the opposite – it’s more difficult to start with and requires a sewing machine, but once you learn how to sew, it might be worth the extra effort because of the satisfaction of making something yourself. 

It also gives you more control and creativity than cross stitch. You can try out different patterns and find an easy one that suits your skill set and preferences. The craftsmanship will also be unmatched by anything you can get at a store!

We hope you will know more information about cross stitch and embroidery after reading our cross stitch vs embroidery reviews in 2021.

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