Learn how to do it and how to
make money doing it.
The History of Embroidery
What do you need to know before you
What can you make?
Where to find inspiration
Turning your skill into money
Don’t stitch yourself up – think about
how to start and manage your new
Cross stitch is a hobby with lots of advantages.
It is an activity that can be done at home, at
convenient times that fit in with your domestic
timetable. Depending on the size of your piece of
work, you can even do it en route to work on the
train or bus, while at the hairdressers, or while
sitting outside in the sunshine.
It is something you can take on holiday with you,
or do in front of the fire on those cold winter
evenings. In fact, it is something you can do
almost anywhere and at any time.
It is also an opportunity to learn an ancient
craft, and gain an insight into the old
civilizations that first developed the skills,
not to mention their religious history that it
Handcrafts like cross stitch are world wide, and
often involve skills passed down from generation
Hobbies are considered to be healthy. Hobbies
provide an interest, stimulation, an opportunity
to learn something new, a means of self
expression, and in the case of cross stitch, an
activity that can produce a wide range of
delightful, artistic, unique and useful things.
Done well, cross stitch can look as good as silk
screen printing or a painting, and it is not the
most difficult of handicrafts, although it does
require a neat working method.
Cross stitch provides both mental and physical
exercise – but thankfully it’s not too energetic.
It doesn’t require that you buy expensive sports
clothes, or spend hours in the rain, or even that
you travel to a gym or playing field.
Wow, let us just count our blessings that there
are hobbies that are so nice!
Another real benefit of hobbies is that they
usually involve a sharing of interest with
You probably won't find a cross stitching circle
that sits together, sipping earl grey tea and
munching on home made biscuits, there are other
options. For example, you could join any number
of internet groups that offer a massive amount of
information, tips and patterns. You can also find
useful forums where members discuss their work
and develop a sense of camaraderie, whilst not
leaving their sitting rooms.
The internet is also an excellent source of
information on exhibitions, craft fairs,
suppliers of materials and patterns, and also how
to develop your skill effectively.
Internet forums for craft interests have
transformed the craft and put people in touch
world wide to promote this traditional activity.
It has also helped to advance the range of uses
Cross stitch is a very old style of embroidery,
and has an interesting history.
One can imagine the lady wearing a wimple in a
draughty tower of a medieval castle, stitching
away at a heraldic standard for her knight in
shining armor. These days we are able to use a
wider range of fabrics, silks, yarns, cottons and
ribbons. We can also access lots of pre printed
backgrounds, some with counted stitches, and some
We can use modern technology to print patterns on
a whole range of fabrics, including the copying
of photographs, which can then be worked with
There is already a substantial business in the
marketing of kits for beginners. They come
complete with step by step diagrams, fabric with
color coding, printed crosses marked, and the
right amount of wool, yarn or silk to enable you
to complete the design.
Depending on the size and the design, the kits
might provide a frame to hold the fabric.
However, when you get used to making larger
pieces of work, you will probably want to invest
in a good quality frame that will hold the area
of fabric you are working on.
Larger embroidery designs might require a large
stand alone frame.
The old tower with howling draughts might sound
romantic, but it’s best of course to find
somewhere draught free. You’ll also want lots of
natural light and a comfortable temperature.
It’s important when starting any new skill to be
mindful of your posture and position. The last
thing you want is something new and interesting
to lead to back strain or discomfort of any sort.
Of course most importantly with close work of any
kind, good task lighting is essential so that you
avoid eye strain.
Most of us won’t be using cross stitch to help
create heraldic standards for our knights in
Most of us would probably start by doing a small
‘sampler’, which traditionally young girls did to
show they knew the various embroidery stitches.
It might also be good to attempt a small picture
to frame, or perhaps a cushion cover with a
simple cross stitch design to complement a mix of
colour or fabric.
However cross stitching is not only for the
fairer sex. There are some famous men who have
developed top class businesses in the design and
production of cross stitch work.
Historically, of course, it would have been men
in religious communities who created many of the
ancient pieces of work to decorate their
surroundings and their religious leaders.
Once you get used to cross stitch, which is
really a straight forward embroidery style, you
can then learn other stitches, and combine these
with clever use of fabric types and colours to
create really beautiful work. It does require
neat and careful stitching, regardless of whether
you are using very tiny stitches or larger ones,
but once you’ve gotten the hang of it, it gets
And if you have an eye for design, you can move
from the pre-printed kits or fabrics to
individual designs of your own, which can be
transferred or copied onto almost any fabric of
Most cross stitchers create their beautiful work
purely from the one stitch, and are very proud of
being part of the traditional cross stitch craft
It is easy now to find the materials for most
craft work. Most large department stores have
sections selling virtually everything you need
for embroidery. It’s generally best to start with
kits for beginners and move on to more complex
ones when you are ready to take on bigger more
complicated pieces of work.
The internet is a fantastic source for patterns,
many of which can be downloaded free. Styles and
prices vary enormously, so you should expect to
spend quite a lot of time looking at the options.
If you want to make a wall hanging for instance,
you would want to find a design and colour
palette that would complement the room where the
wall hanging is to be placed.
If you want to make a decorative pattern for an
article of clothing, you will also need to think
about how the texture and colour will work with
the item you intend to use.
And of course, there are patterns galore that
date back years, and are printed on transfer
How nice to spend an afternoon looking through
your grandmother’s embroidery files, and perhaps
recognizing a pattern on a cushion you used as a
As with any hobby, particularly one that can be
enjoyed at home, it is also worth considering
whether it is possible to turn something you
enjoy into a business.
Like all good ideas, its best to walk before you
run. Only when you feel you are mastering the
cross stitch, and have found the best way to
incorporate it into other craft medium with which
you are already familiar, should you be setting
out to turn it into a business.
If you want to make money from this hobby, you
will have to decide whether you think it is
feasible to turn it into a business, or whether
you would like just to make enough money to cover
the costs of your materials. That way, your hobby
pays for itself.
Kits are available very inexpensively for small
ones, and the larger ones are obviously more
expensive as they include more fabric, more floss
and more complex instructions and directions. So
you could be spending from a little or a lot each
month, depending on the time you spend on your
Once you start, and speed up, you will no doubt
be doing commissions for your family and friends.
You may also find yourself making presents for
Christmas and birthdays, new babies, new homes
and all sorts of events in your local community.
You could find that this is becoming an expensive
You should consider thinking about how to spend
less but without doing less.
This is the time to start thinking about whether
or not you can make money doing cross stitch.
Either way, you will have learned the art of
cross stitch, and probably a wide range of other
stitches that can be used to create beautiful
items for your home and wardrobe. It should give
you great pleasure in the making and even greater
pleasure in the giving.
You will also have experienced the world wide
cross stitch community, which is richer and more
diverse than you could have imagined.
Chapter One - The History of Cross Stitch
Cross stitch is just one way of decorating fabric
or textile. It has its history in the production
of wall hangings, clothes, household linens, rugs
and soft furnishings, dating back to ancient
Cross stitch is a type of embroidery or tapestry
that dates back to ancient times, and was
principally used in the creation of church
There are two forms of using fabrics originally,
one is using decorative stitching on fabric, and
the other is to use the wool or silk to create a
knitted or crochet fabric. This can then form a
basis for further decoration with stitching.
Embroidery as a word originates in the Anglo
Saxon word for ‘Edge’. Gradually, it came to be
seen as a description of decorative stitching on
a range of fabrics for a wide variety of
There is virtually no limit to the fabrics that
you can use as a background for stitched
decoration – leather, cotton, wool, silk – almost
In 1828 Joseph Heilman from Alsatia designed and
built the first embroidery machine. Until then
only hand made articles were possible.
With the invention of machines, it was possible
to make pieces faster and to reproduce items as
many times as was required.
As with many crafts, there has developed a
tradition that respects its origins. Wall
hangings and domestic soft furnishings are still
probably the most popular use for cross stitch
and other forms of embroidery.
It is also still mainly a craft, or art form,
that is carried out by hand. It’s generally done
in the home or within small co-operative groups.
The term embroidery covers work that is both
decorative and functional. For example, from a
functional point of view, the use of stitching
secures the edges of fabrics that would otherwise
It is also a means of providing information by
way of picture or words, a message about
somebody’s rank in the church perhaps, or the
group of which they are a member.
There are lots of different stitches that people
These include cross stitch of course, and blanket
stitch – used as you would imagine for edging
blankets to stop them fraying and to decorate
them as well.
Chain stitch is often used to create curved or
straight lines of pattern, particularly in flower
designs. In addition, there is Feather stitch,
French knots, Satin stitch, Gros point, Tent
stitch and Petit point.
Traditionally, these stitching crafts used
cotton, linen, silk or wool. Later on, they also
used gold and silver threads. However, now you
can be creative and use leather, metal thread and
even a range of synthetics.
Very special pieces use gold thread and sewn on
gem stones, but only the wealthy could use gold
and silver. The choice of these materials
indicates the wealth of the owner - rather like
having a large house to denote you are a person
to be taken seriously in life.
The background fabrics also vary enormously.
Depending on the nature of the work you are
doing, and the finish you want to achieve, you
can use quilted fabric, silky fabrics, chunky
wool, bobbly linen or flat embroidery cloth or
You can mix fabrics and stitching to create large
distinct panels that have superbly interesting
textures and stitching as highlights.
The cloth used for embroidery was originally dyed
with colours derived from vegetables and plants.
These are still used of course, for the fabrics
and for the stitching medium – be it wool or silk
From very early times, embroidery was used on
fabrics and clothing, and this can be seen in
ancient paintings, sculptures and religious and
literary texts all around the world.
There are still some examples that have survived
from Egypt. We have to thank the desert weather
for that – it being so dry. The Egyptians were
very skilled. They particularly excelled in
appliqué involving beads and leather.
Most of the Mediterranean areas, such as
Phoenicia (the Phoenicians) traveled extensively
and took their arts across southern Europe to
what is now Spain, to what was Yugoslavia, to the
Greek Islands and Italy. Also in Babylon, Israel
They practiced embroidery, training their young
people in the traditional stitching and patterns.
Again the making of clothes for the religious
leaders and for decorating the churches was
considered a very important vocation. Sadly,
there are not many examples surviving now from
pre 6th Century AD.
In Europe, clothing was made for the medieval
courtiers, religious leaders, and to decorate the
churches and houses of the wealthy and aspiring
The wealth of the wearer or owner was
demonstrated in the choice of threads – gold and
silver and the use of decorative stones for the
wealthy – plain wool for the poor.
The pattern work developed in those olden days
continues now. There are famous Turkish and
Persian prayer mat designs – still used both on
rugs and wall hangings.
Kelims from Morocco also have traditional
patterns that have been handed down through the
ages. Often, skills have been taught by parents
Major influences of Byzantine art are to be seen
in religious clothing and decoration, especially
in Italy and Germany.
In England, probably the oldest example is a
church stole and maniple worn by St Cuthbert of
Perhaps the most famous example is the Bayeux
Tapestry, which depicts the background to the
Norman Conquest of England and is 231 feet long
and nearly 20 inches wide. It is made with wool
stitching on a linen back cloth.
I remember learning about this at school and
being amazed by the intricacy of the work and the
beauty of the style. It tells the story of its
time in a way that everyone can understand –
although at the time we were being taught about
the events, rather than the means of preserving
the telling of it.
Well known also is the silk and metal thread work
known as ‘English Work’, which became famous
across Europe. Again, this is mainly religious
work – alter cloths, decorative stoles for the
church leaders and using religious pictures of
saints and devotions.
Later in the 14th century, gold become more
commonly used, and coincided with the development
of embroidered pictures. This enabled artists
like Jan van Eyck from Holland to create a
different type of painting, which became known as
‘nue’ or shaded gold work.
This type of work dominated until the early 16th
Century, when ideas for embroiderers were
developed by famous painters like Antonio del
Pollaiuolo. They also included non-religious
scenes, although many of the people doing the
embroidery were nuns and monks.
By this time as well, embroiders guilds were
being established, and here we see the beginning
of embroidery as a profession.
Communications between European countries by this
time meant that fashions from the principal
courts were soon of interest elsewhere.
So styles developed in Spain, for example, would
soon be copied in the English court.
As members of the European monarchy moved from
one country to another, they took with them their
retinue of staff. So the fashions for the whole
range of wealthy to poor could be seen abroad.
The wool from black sheep being used to stitch on
white linen was very striking and very popular,
and eventually became known in England as
All over Europe, the craft of embroidery was
evolving as a folk art too. All sorts of
domestic fabrics were decorated with flowers,
line decorations or geometric patterns and using
a bright colourful palette.
By the 17th and 18th Centuries, patterns were
being printed and available for purchase – I bet
they would have fallen over if someone told them
that one day these could be sold by ‘internet’!
Samplers, which most of us had to do as children,
started to become popular at this time.
These gave a record that the embroiderer could do
the full range of stitches and knew the
traditional patterns for borders.
Different uses began to be popular – decorating
not just cloth or clothing, but objects, like
boxes or mirror frames.
This was a way of showing the skill of the
embroiderer – not just in the stitching, but also
in developing new pictorial designs that were
very different from the mainly religious scenes
and motifs that had dominated previously.
New ways to create abstract emerged too. Flame
pattern with zig zags called bargello, and
patterning for the decorative elements of every
day clothes. Things like collars and cuffs that
people would change to enable them to create
variety in their dress.
Fashions changed then as they do now.
After embroiderers had become used to developing
design ideas and creating quite complex pictures,
a trend emerged that was much simpler.
By the French Revolution, the technique known as
Berlin work became popular. This involved a
number of stitching styles or needlepoint,
sometimes using canvas, sometimes using wool,
with silk threads and beads.
Soon the Berlin work was being exported abroad,
as well as being very popular throughout Germany.
In the United Kingdom, the Arts and Crafts
Movement dominated by William Morris, his wife
and their fellow artists, started a tradition of
design and utility. I think his most famous
saying was ‘only have things of beauty or use in
In the United States, there is a strong craft
tradition. Quilt making in particular is very
popular, but stitch work and embroidery is very
much part of the popular craft movement. Many of
the internet sites you find will be American.
Although we now live in a world of high commerce,
high technology and continuous advancement, we
also have the means of passing on the traditions
of our ancestors and learning of the traditions
of other countries, communities and religions.
Although we may not produce our craft work for
the same reasons, we can continue to learn and
teach the old skills, and continue to make items
of beauty and usefulness.
So cross stitch, within the embroidery craft is,
in effect, a living history, and one that is
still very popular. It’s also one that will
continue to give pleasure to people all over the
Chapter Two – What do you need to know
before you start
I would recommend you start by visiting your
local department store and finding out the range
of materials they have on offer. Also check out
Try a Google search (www.google.com) for ‘cross
stitch’ and you will be amazed at the number of
sites that exist.
Some are suppliers of kits and materials, some
are much more. Those with a monthly or annual
subscription often give access to a wealth of
information, designs, patterns, ideas, and groups
You can find just about anything you could
imagine that has to do with cross stitch.
There are online courses that show you how to do
cross stitch in easy step by step instructions
with pictures. And, of course, you can purchase
books and magazines that have very detailed
information on how to tackle the stitches and how
to keep your work neat. When you get really
proficient, you’ll want to know how to deal with
the very, very tricky bits.
Some of these sites will also advertise events,
shows and exhibitions, as well as selling starter
kits, and a whole range of craft tools, books,
Going to craft exhibitions is a great way to see
what works other people are doing, and to give
you ideas on what you would like to start with.
It also gives you a chance to see items close up
and talk to their creators.
Because there is so much choice, you will need to
What you would like to start with in terms
of size and complexity
Whether you want to create something to
frame and hang on the wall, or a cushion
cover, or perhaps a cover for a storage
How much you want to spend
Whether you think you need to find someone
to help you get started, or whether you are
happy to follow the instructions in a kit
Where is the best place for you to buy your
kit – do you have access to local shops, or
is it easier to order over the internet?
Most of the starter kits have all the
information and materials you need, and
starting small is a really good idea.
So what exactly is cross stitch?
Cross stitch is really the most popular type of
embroidery, particularly in Europe and the
United States, but also in Australia. It is
not difficult to learn, and can be used on all
sorts of decorative work.
Mostly it is used to create framed and wall
hung decorations containing flowers, motifs and
pictures of children or pets.
In most cases, the whole of the background fabric
is covered with stitches. This is not essential
though, and some lovely work can be created by
making the accent pattern only and leaving
background areas unstitched.
There are fabrics available in a range of colours
so you can show white, cream or other off whites.
Cross stitch is really ‘what is says on the tin’
i.e. you create an X by making two stitches, one
starting from the bottom of the \ line and
another starting from the top of the / line. It
doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you
keep the same starting point throughout, which
gives the neatest finish.
It is also described as a popular form of counted
thread embroidery. In addition to the simple X
shape using two stitches, there are ¼, ½, and ¾
stitches, as well as back stitches.
Sometimes a waste fabric is used, with the
pattern, the cross stitches and the colours
shown. The embroidery is done through the waste
fabric which is then removed. This enables you
to stitch fabric that has no markings on it.
Talking of size…….
There is a range of cross stitch background
material that you can use, and the ones with
fewer holes per square inch, i.e. the larger
ones, are the easier to use.
And you can be creative with the larger ones,
using ribbons or fabric pieces – as long as you
can find a large enough needle to thread them on
Generally these days a cotton embroidery floss is
used for standard cross stitch. This is a
combination of six strands loosely twisted
together and made of mercerized cotton.
Pearl cotton and Danish Flower Thread can also be
Pieces can have a mix of wool and cotton to give
a range of texture within the work, as well as
showing the main and background parts in
The possibilities in terms of innovation are
endless – you can work with all sorts of fabrics,
use all sorts of materials for stitching, and
combine cross stitch with lots of other crafts.
When you get really confident, and as long as you
have really good eye sight, you can use the
smallest, and work with as many as 22 holes per
square inch to produce sensational work.
The most generally used cloth is called ‘Aida
Cloth’, which has groups of woven threads with
tiny spaces between them. This is really easy
for beginners to use, as you can see precisely
where the needle needs to go. Beginners are
advised to use the 14 thread count, although this
cloth offers a range from 6-18.
This cloth is 100% cotton, easy to use and the
easiest size (14 count) is available in the most
Experienced cross-stitchers often use ‘Linen’, as
it’s a really good fabric to work with and not
too expensive. It’s also a lovely fabric to work
with because it has irregularities in the finish.
With linen, a 28 count will give 14 stitches per
square inch because most designs use two threads
(one / and one \ crossing over in the centre to
form an X).
You can get linen in counts of 14 to 40. Just
divide the count by two to get the number of
stitches per square inch.
Linen looks like a basket weave, and appears more
traditionally like embroidery fabric. However,
it is not as easy as Aida fabric, and it is more
difficult to keep the tension of the floss right.
Don’t try using this until you are more
experienced in keeping your stitches even.
Other standard fabrics include ‘Evenweave’ which
you stitch rather like Linen.
Evenweave is a ‘plain weave’ and is also made
from cotton. You can obtain this in lots of
Jobelan - probably the most popular due to the
range of colours, its draping quality, and
because it just looks so good, elegant and soft.
You need to know that this generally has 2 x 2
blocks of threads. So it halves the thread
count. A 14 count aida will be the same size as
a 28 count even weave.
Other even weaves include Linda, Davosa, Janina,
Annabelle and Jubilee
‘Needlepoint’ fabric which comes in 6 ½ to 20
stitches per inch and can be used in conjunction
with other fabrics.
‘Hardanger’ is used for the really fine work, and
is the name of the traditional and very famous
Norwegian embroidery with 22 squares to the inch.
So those are some of the materials you use, and
now you know that the principle is to use two
diagonal and crossing stitches to create one X.
Together the stitches transform themselves to
create whatever you want them to look like; a
picture, a print, or a photo or a design or motif
on different colored background.
A popular format for the kits is a series of
flowers and petals on a stem set against a plain
This could be framed and hung on the wall or used
for part of a cushion cover or book cover, or
under glass on a tray. The options are really
The more experienced you become, the more
professional your work will look. Of course,
there are ways to make it look like you have been
cross stitching for ages – so its worth checking
out the tips to make your work look as good as
With Stamped Cross Stitch the ‘x’ is printed onto
the fabric, as is the design, so you follow the
stamped ‘x’ starting at the top by inserting the
needle from the back of the fabric, and back out
again at the bottom along the diagonal, then
again through from the back at the other base of
the ‘x’ and across the first stitch and then
through to the back of the fabric at the top of
The main thing with cross stitch is to make sure
you keep the same direction of stitching on the
underside of the fabric throughout the work as
this gives the best quality finish on the
face/front side of your work.
Counted cross stitch is almost the same, but
doesn’t have the ‘x’ printed on the fabric, just
the pattern is printed. With counted cross
stitch you have to count how many stitches you
need in each colour. The fabric will look like a
series of small squares or grids, so it’s not
difficult to see how many x stitches you will
need for each color.
When you progress to using individual designs,
you will need to think about how large the
pattern detail is to ensure you can get the right
number of stitches.
Chapter Three – What can you make
This is the really great thing about cross stitch
– you can make so many different things. The old
favorites were the small framed pictures, which
could be flowers or lettering – I remember making
my first one, a small framed design to
commemorate my parents’ 40 wedding anniversary.
When you have completed a few small items you
might want to try something bigger – either as a
piece of art work to hang on the wall, or as part
of an object. Some of the most interesting
pieces can be used throughout the house.
If you have a coffee table with a boring top that
you would like to transform, why not create a
design to fit to almost the length and breadth of
the coffee table? You could even get a piece of
beveled glass to sit on top.
Interesting mirror surrounds make a change – why
not create a border pattern that could be stuck
to an old wooden mirror frame?
Oak leaf patterns or similar winding designs
would make a great mirror frame.
Very small pictures or designs could be inserted
or glued onto the card of your own hand made
cards for family and friends
If you look around the house you will see all
sorts of items that could be transformed by using
your own designs and ideas.
Nowadays, you can have transfers of photographs
on to fabric so you can try an enormous range of
For small pieces, you can use a working frame
that holds the fabric stiffly, which makes it
easier to handle the fabric while you are working
There are frames for larger pieces too – some
very big ones are stands that grip the fabric at
the top and the bottom, and roll it up and down
from one section to another.
Cushion covers are a favorite, and can be part
of, or all of, the cover. Sometimes it’s more
effective to use a cross stitch piece together
with another medium. For example, you can create
a cover with an outside border in a colored
fabric, and in the center, a tightly cross
It is always worth thinking about combining cross
stitch work with other fabrics – this can be very
economical, and allow you to create an accent
with the cross stitch.
Many photography studios will print photos or
other images onto T shirts - You could impose a
grid pattern on to the image you want transferred
to make it easier to keep to your pattern lines.
Chapter Four – Where to find inspiration
Well, where do we start! There is a wide range
of pre-stamped designs available.
Perhaps it boils down to the individual. It
usually depends on what you are most interested
in and what it is you want to make. Works of art,
photographs, posters, old texts from ancient
books, animals, abstract patterns, calligraphy,
plants, buildings, cars, toys, and comic
characters – the list is endless.
To find these images you can use magazines,
books, your own photos, advertising media of all
sorts, and of course, the internet.
Most computer programs come with clip art which
can be downloaded and printed off. There are
lots of web sites were you can source designs for
craft work, often for free.
Nature is always a wonderful theme, and anything
from small flowers to larger landscapes can be
Photographs or paintings can be reproduced. You
can now find computer programs that will convert
your digital photographs into cross-marked
patterns. You can get your patterns made for
specific ‘floss’ palettes. Floss is what a cross
stitcher calls the yarn they use.
Alternatively you can make your own patterns by
using virtual needles and other computer tools to
create your color areas and writing.
Or why not try hand drawn sketches, which you can
draw onto fabric using fabric pens or paints.
If you are making something for children, try
finding images of their favourite story book
characters, or film stars, or maybe their pet dog
Sometimes the simple ideas are the best, and when
you are just beginning, it could be a little
daunting to try and create something very large
or very complex.
Doing single characters or line drawings, might
be easiest. This way you don’t have to deal with
too many different colors at first, and can
concentrate on the neatness of the stitching.
Chapter Five – Turning your new skill into
Well why not? At the least it would be worth
covering your costs.
There are a number of ways you could start to
make some money in a small way.
Craft work is serious business these days. There
are craft fairs everywhere now, and they are very
popular for family outings, as well as for the
serious collector of craft work. So let us look
at the possibilities for making money with cross
The first option is to produce your work for
sale. How would you sell? Well, you could go to
the craft fairs and sell your work at a stall.
You would of course have to pay to have your
stand, so you would need to have enough items and
sell them at the right prices to cover the cost
of renting the stall. You would also need
transport to take you and your work to the venue.
You wouldn’t necessarily have to have your own
stall, but could have a stall holder show your
work on a per sale or return basis.
You could try to sell your work through shops on
this basis, too. But if you have a range of
items to display you could also undertake to do
work on commission. Obviously you would have to
pay the shop keeper a portion of the sale price.
Internet sites are another way of selling craft
work, either through the specialist sites, or on
more general sites.
Ebay is a well known site for selling all sorts
of items, but you could check out craft oriented
sites too, although you might have to pay to
advertise on these sites.
Another option is to develop your own web site
and advertise your products with photos,
measurements and individual prices.
These are ways of selling your items, either as
specific commissions or as pieces that you have
decided are in demand and are likely to sell
well. In this way you could cover your costs and
However, you could take this a stage further and
think about setting up a business. So, what sort
of business would work?
Well, at this point you would need to review your
skills and abilities and decide what type of
business you would do best with.
For example, if your skill is in cross stitch
itself, you may not want to take on the
marketing, sales, book-keeping and advertising
that would be needed with a larger scale
The range of businesses involving cross stitch is
Writing books about cross stitch
Running your own courses
Internet marketing and sales
Other questions you would need to ask yourself
Would I prefer to work on my own or with other
If others, would I want this to be in the form of
a partnership, or a limited company, or a co-
Do I want or need to be able to work from home,
or would I prefer to have somewhere separate?
Have I got space in my house?
How much would other premises cost?
Would I have to take a long lease?
How much could I spend on rent of premises?
What sort of investment would I need to make?
How much money do I have available?
Would I be prepared to borrow money to set up
If you decide that you want to start a serious
business, you may think about sub-contracting
some of the work.
You could find other people to make cross stitch
You could find good designers for the cross
You could find someone else to set up your web
You could find someone to source the materials
you want to sell.
You could find someone who can write superb
You could find someone else to run the stall at
You could find someone to deal with all the
letters and telephone calls.
You could find someone to keep your accounts.
So you see there are lots of options.
Chapter Six - Don’t stitch yourself up – think
about how to start and manage your new
So now that you have decided to make money out of
your business, you will need to ensure that you
do, in fact, make money.
No matter what type of business you decide to
undertake, you need to start with some basics!
You will need to have a plan of action, and a
budget, and clear guidelines about what you think
you want to achieve and how you think you will go
about doing it.
If you don’t have a plan, you could get side
tracked, spend more money than you should, or
spend more time than you want.
Think carefully about how your new business plan
affects your family – make sure you have your
priorities sorted out.
Without the support of your family, what started
out as a great adventure could become a problem
that affects yourself and other people as well.
It’s a great idea to get friends and family to
give you feedback on what you think your
strengths and weaknesses are - always a good idea
to get their support. All of us have our own
experiences, passions and skills.
Sometimes we like to think we are capable of more
than we are, or good at things that really we are
quite average at.
Sometimes we are not aware of skills we have and
need someone else to tell us.
If you are going to start a proper business, it
needs to be something you are really, really
Most successful business people think that their
driving passion was what made them successful –
not just a skill at making money.
And for many people the success and achievement
is the real reward – the money is secondary.
The other question you need to ask yourself is
what you would do for a hobby if you turned your
hobby into a business?
Most of us need activities that provide personal
development in one way or another, and hobbies
are great for all the reasons mentioned in the
So if you start a business, will you still have
time to enjoy a hobby?
A big question is about whether you intend to
work on your own or whether you actually want to
employ other people.
If you think you will need to have help in your
new business, and you can’t persuade your family
to help you out, you will have to think about
employing someone…possibly even more than one
person. Then you need to consider whether you
want to employ someone directly. In other words,
do you want to have to be responsible for paying
salaries, national insurance and hassle with sick
If you want to employ people you will need to be
very clear about what their responsibilities are
going to be, and what you are offering to pay
them. You will also need to check to see how that
salary compares with other similar employment,
and whether you are employing someone on a short,
medium or long term contract.
Initially it could be risky employing someone on
a permanent basis. It might be best to wait until
you can see how successful your new business is
going to be, before you take on the obligation of
paying someone a salary on a permanent basis
The option is engaging people to work with you on
a ‘self employed’ basis. This way you would not
be responsible for dealing with their tax and
insurance, but would have to pay on an hourly
rate or on some other basis that you would have
agreed with them. If people are self employed
they can off set their costs against their tax.
Do you want to be an ‘organizer’ or would you
prefer to be a ‘doer’?
For example you could be a successful
exhibitioner or event organizer.
Or, you could organize the buying of kits at
wholesale prices and the selling of them at
retail outlets or online.
On the other hand, you might prefer to be selling
directly to the public.
Ok, so having gone through the serious initial
questions, and if you are still sure, you will
need to ask yourself the following questions:
What exactly do you intend to do – sometimes good
ideas need careful thinking before they evolve
into good business plans.
So write it down and think about it – get someone
who you know has good business skills to look at
it as well and give you their opinion on it.
You will need to be clear about who do you intend
to sell to.
It is always advisable to do lots of research
about your market – find out who buys the product
or service you are proposing to sell. Think about
how you can offer these buyers a better deal on
either quality or quantity, or speed of delivery,
or any other factor that you think will give you
the edge over your competition.
And of course you will need to know as much as
you can about your competition – what makes them
successful or what is it about their service or
operation that you could improve on?
So when you have decided who you are hoping to
sell to, you will need to plan how and where you
will be selling to them and how you can make sure
they know about your product or service.
This will take you into the area of advertising,
marketing and sales.
Check out the industry magazines and web sites to
see how your competition advertises – find out
how much the advertising cost is for different
For example, advertising in newspapers and
magazines is expensive and you are reliant on
your buyers purchasing those newspapers and
magazines in order to find out about your
product. So maybe it is worth checking out how
you can contact them directly. One direct
advertising method is through leaflets.
However it can be expensive getting the leaflets
to the individuals or organizations you want to
target. There are organizations that deal with
advertising leaflets on a direct mailing basis,
and you would need to find out how much this
Advertising via the internet is now big, big
You can develop web sites (would you need to pay
someone to do this for you?) and use them to
place your advertisements, or you can pay to
advertise on other web sites. The difference
between a good web site and an average one could
be lots of sales!
If you search for web sites related to cross
stitching you will see lots of groups that have
their own web site and where different businesses
can advertise. You’ll also know that the visitors
to the web site will be looking for these
particular services or products.
You should be able to find out how much it would
cost to advertise on these specialist sites by
finding their ‘advertise with us’ tab.
It’s quite straight forward to write out an
advertisement, perhaps with a photograph of one
of your items, and in this, give your contact
Often these adverts have click on links to the
sellers’ own web sites where they can see much
more information about the products, the prices,
the ordering and delivery details.
You can also incorporate on your own web site
some feedback from satisfied customers – once you
How much will it cost in overheads, materials,
advertising, fees, etc. Remember that you will
have to finance your advertising, materials and
all other overheads before you start getting any
So you need to be really focused on the costs of
reaching your target market in the first place,
and the costs of providing the product or
How much time do you intend to spend on your
This is really important – good businesses
normally take a big investment of both time and
usually some money.
The old saying that there is no such thing as a
free lunch is very true. With any successful
business, there needs to be a commitment to
putting in the time necessary.
So if you are thinking that you can get something
for nothing – think again. However, if you do
all your research, and invest the time and effort
in the beginning, it is quite possible to develop
a business that works efficiently and
effectively…and which needs to be maintained, but
doesn’t take up all the hours of every day to
earn you a good living.
If you can develop a business where different
aspects are the responsibility of other people,
and your job is to ensure all the facets of the
enterprise are working well together, you could
have time to sit in the sunshine and get back to
the enjoyment of doing some cross stitching for
Chapter Seven – Conclusion
Starting to learn to do cross stitch is not
difficult, and while you can start with simple
designs and easy size stitches, you can progress
to really complicated patterns (with counted
stitches or without). You’ll be able to make
superb pieces of art, in the comfort of your own
home, and whenever you want.
When you first start, it would be easiest to use
a background cloth that allows you to do about 14
stitches to the square inch. Most of the starter
kits offer this. Aida Cloth is the most common,
and you will find this easily obtainable from
specialist shops or web sites. Look for kits
with stamped cross stitches marked – this way you
will see exactly where you start each stitch.
Information about cross stitching is abundant.
There are specialist magazines, specialist web
sites, exhibitions and craft fairs and small
dedicated shops, as well as large department
stalls where you can find information, materials,
and everything you need - cross stitch paradise,
The more you check out the specialist cross
stitch locations – either on the web or the high
street, the more potential for design you will
find. You will be able to find kits for pictures
of animals, children, landscapes, cartoon
characters, buildings…almost everything. And of
course, you can find your own sources of
inspiration from family photographs or post cards
– let your imagination really fly!
You don’t have to do this on your own either.
There are forums and groups where you can talk to
other beginners, and find all the hints and tips
such as: the best places to buy the materials,
where to find the best designs, and how to make
your cross stitch projects look really
As you will discover, there are lots of
businesses, both large and small, that are part
of the cross stitch world. So if you want to
turn your new hobby into a money spinner – either
to cover your costs or to make money, there are
lots of options.
First, you have to be realistic about where your
skills and abilities lie.
Second, you need to research the area you are
thinking of turning into a business. Find out as
much as you can about other similar businesses,
how they operate, who they sell to, and how
popular they are with their customers.
When you have this information, you should
collate it, and it might be easiest to do this on
your computer by using a program like Excel.
Third, you need to establish what the costs are
in your selected business. This links with
determining how much you can afford or want to
invest to start up the new business. This is
something else that should be collated on an
Excel type computer program. It is essential to
keep a list of anticipated costs, and as you
develop your business, measure your actual
outgoings against each area of expenditure. For
example, you may find other web sites to
advertise on which are less expensive. Or you
may find more expensive advertising that appears
to be much more effective, and therefore worth
the additional expenditure.
Fourth, you need to be realistic about whether
you can achieve your goals on your own, or
whether it would be better to find the right
people to work with you.
Fifth, you need to develop a good business plan,
and get other people in whom you have confidence
to check this out and give you any advice they
think appropriate. At this stage, review your
plan in light of the feedback you have received.
You might need help in developing your business
plan, if you haven’t done one before. See if you
can find someone with some experience to help
you, and if you don’t know anyone suitable, it
might be worth consulting an expert for a small
fee. This could save you lots of money by
ensuring you are looking at every aspect of your
Sixth, plan on a monthly review of your progress
– if you are not achieving your targets you need
to think about why this is. Be open to amending
your advertising, or your product if necessary.
Seventh, keep an eye on your competition – know
as much as you can at all times. Check out their
customer satisfaction ratings, their prices and
their quality control. Watch out for their new
products or services, or if they stop certain
ranges. Sometimes companies sell off some
products cheaply when they are going to move to
another range – this could be an opportunity to
buy goods at wholesale prices and sell them
yourself at retail.
Eighth, be conscientious about your record
keeping. When you are in business it is
essential that you have information and details
on record. You will need to keep a track of your
expenditure and your income. If you need to,
find a way learning good business practices from
associates or by taking a short course – it could
save you lots of time and money
Ninth, review your progress against your business
plan on a regular basis. Also on a regular basis,
you need to be thinking about where your business
is going – should you be investing more time or
money to capture new markets? Or would it be
best to out source part of the work to free up
some of your time?
Tenth, and finally, enjoy being involved with the
world of cross stitch and enjoy turning your
hobby into a money spinner!
Thanks For Reading