The History of Cross Stitch

10 Oct The History of Cross Stitch

Ever wondered where this fantastic craft has it’s roots?


Nordic Needle – Source

History of Cross Stitch

“With the invention of embroidery machines and the innovative techniques of some textile artists, you begin to wonder if embroidery can still be defined in one sentence. The definition found in A-Z of Embroidery Stitches, page 4: “Embroidery is a way of altering a surface with stitches.” Some sources list cross stitch under the counted thread category. That is partially true, as cross stitch can be a free form design, a stamped design, or counted. This category of stitching has evolved where basically two stitches are all that are needed to create an entire style of needlework.

As pattern books were published and samplers evolved, the predominate stitch became the cross stitch, but cross stitch is not new. It has been reported that fabric found in Greece dating back to the 5th century BC shows the remnants of cross stitching.

There really isn’t much written about the actual history of cross stitch. We do know that sewing and embroidery have been around since people started creating clothing. It is likely the first stitches used were the running stitch and cross stitch to join two fabric or fur panels together. We’ve already seen where people stitched on clothing (Blackwork) and on linens and wall hangings (Samplers).

There is a gap in history. We really don’t know a lot about the development and spread of the cross stitch technique. It is known that prior to there being printed patterns, companies would have models stitched. These models then traveled around to the various shops where customers would come in and hand copy the patterns. The first printed pattern books began to be accessible in the sixteen century. The first cross stitch patterns were printed as black squares or dots. It was left up to the stitcher to determine the colors to use. This was due in part to the lack of commercially produced product, so the stitcher used locally spun and dyed threads. Can you just imagine what those stitchers would think of today’s printed patterns and fiber choices?

Like most other needle arts, cross stitch has had periods of popularity and decline. Technology took over and women no longer needed to do the embellishing of clothes and linens. With other activities in and out of the home, people just didn’t have time to sit and stitch for pleasure. It was only the later half of the 20th century did we really begin to slow down and spend time developing hobbies. For many of us, it may be difficult to imagine having no time to enjoy a hobby.”

History of Cross Stitch

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