Detail inspiration: Cross stitch


Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 21


I recall doing cross stitch on gingham fabric for school sewing projects. Our Grade Six sewing project was cross stitch on gingham squares that became pockets on the aprons we used for cooking classes in Grade seven. (we all did white crosses on the dark blue squares of navy and white gingham. Not much scope for creativity!). I was quite taken with the technique, and made a few table cloths, experimenting with different colours. My favourite was green and brown crosses on yellow and white gingham. No idea where the table cloth is now (and from memory, the width of the fabric was only about 90 centimeters, with a bit cut off to square up the squares).

I still have a soft spot for cross stitch (although on gingham, maybe not so much). The red dress looks amazing!


Oooh, that red dress is gorgeous. I haven’t done cross stitch for years, we used to do it at school on special woven fabric with evenly spaced holes – I think it was called Binca.

Diane @ Vintage Zest

I used to do cross stitching when I was a kid, but only those ones of animals, sayings, etc. that you get at the store and frame afterwards. I would love to try this on a garment as an embellishment! However, I would probably try it on a less full skirt or a neckline because that’s a ton of work!


I enjoy doing cross stitch… These are lovely examples and great inspiration.


Wow! The red dress might have reconciled me with cross stitch. I like embroidery but I’m not a huge fan of cross stitch, which I tend to find boring. But used like this! It could be interesting… Although probably very time consuming. Thank you for the inspiration!


I love cross-stitch, but wouldn’t put it on the hem of a dress unless I had great legs I wanted to call attention to, which sadly is not the case. I would definitely go for a neckline and sleeves, though. Not into wearing gingham checks either, not being Dorothy from Kansas, but there must be another way to get those even crosses in place! Any ideas?


Amanda (in the comment below) has a great recommendation, but I just wanted to give gingham some love for a second! I used to consider it very farmgirl-little-girlish too, but now I think of it more in the context of classic menswear checked shirting. I think gingham looks so classic and modern, especially in colors like black, navy, and grey!

Amanda Cawley Rudd

This does look amazing! You can buy soluble aida (canvas for cross stitch) that you just soak in warm water when you are done and then you are left with perfect, even cross stitch.


Thanks Amanda! My jaw practically dropped seeing that red dress, it’s so stunning. I do a fair bit of cross stitch, but never on non-crosstitch fabric and my first thought was – how does one do this stitching on plainweavefabric? I’m guessing the original cross stitcher of this dress didn’t have the luxury of soluble aida cloth, but I’d sure take advantage of it!

Jeri Sullivan

I have never heard of soluable aida but would definitely be interested in trying that for clothing embroidery. I like gingham ok but would love to recreate something like the solid red dress. How “soluable” is it? I expect a project as large as the red dress would require months of work and if your hands get sweaty does the stuff dissolve?


Gosh they are beautiful – the red one in particular. I’ve done a fair bit of cross stitch and other embroidery so I might have to give it a whirl, particularly with two little girls to sew for.


Thanks for sharing! I love cross stitch, it is my embroidery obsession! Currently I’m cross-stitching a cover for my phone, but I’m really keen to do some on a collar!

little cuckoo

Would you do the cross stitch or embroidery when the dress is made or on the flat pattern pieces before it was constructed? I really want to try this out! And thanks Amanda Cawley Rudd for the handy soluble aida tip!


I was just thinking that and I think it would be best to do it after the piece is constructed. Otherwise, you might run the risk of making mistakes in construction and/or have a fitting issue and have to change things.


That is nice. I have to try that. Anna maria horner has fabric out that has cross stitch on it. As well as here new book of embroidery. Is great for learning.


I had to make a gingham apron with cross stitch borders for my first project at senior school back in the day. I can’t imagine wearing a gingham dress now! The red dress is pretty but it would take months to make!


I still have gingham aprons that my mom cross stitched. She also did something called Swedish or huck (?) weaving which was a type of embroidery done with a blunt needle on a loose weave fabric where the floss was sort of interwoven in the fabric. It looked a lot like the embroidery on the yellow dress. I still have tea towels (what were those for anyway?!) she made with Swedish weaving.


Hi Rebecca,

I did huck weaving on tea towels in high school and I still have one of them left. I don’t use it anymore, just a keepsake now, but I’d like to try it again 50 years later! The fabric isn’t that easy to find when you live in a small town. We must have had a Swedish Home Economics teacher (Who’s that, you say?). I still use tea towels and don’t know how things would go in my kitchen without one for wiping down hand-washed items; polishing glasses, etc. And one for wiping my hands, but I guess that’s technically not a tea towel. How do you manage without one?


Barb- I think I must be calling my “tea” towels, “dish” towels. : ) I do use mainly cloth and not paper.— And, I’m delighted to hear that there is someone else out there who has heard of huck weaving. — Next, maybe Coletterie will have something on tatting- to use as lace insets! Sarai?!


I know little about tatting, but I’d love to learn! I have some bone tatting needles and tatted pieces inherited from my grandmother. It’s quite lovely.


I really appreciate all these detail inspiration posts. Even if I don’t always comment, I always really enjoy them. Thankyou!

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