12 Cross-Stitching Tips That’ll Save You Time, Money, And Effort

Stitch don’t kill my vibe.

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Hi, I’m Elizabeth and I’ve been cross-stitching (or at least trying to!) since I was ~8 years old. I get super into it, taper off for a few years, and then super into it again. When I’m full-throttling it — like I am now — it puts my busy hands to work and creates some awesome gifts for my loved ones.

Perhaps you’re just starting out (check out my beginner tips!) or wanna put that horde of craft supplies to good use instead of going outside this winter. Either way, I hope these lil’ hacks come in handy!


Hang on to every single extra thread, aida cloth scrap, and pattern from past projects because it can save you from buying a new pink thread *just* for a cute lil’ kitten’s nose.

Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed

I keep every strand of leftover floss from kits and past projects in this ancient ziplock bag. It ain’t pretty, but I’ve used all these scraps to make about half a dozen projects in the past couple months.


BUT it doesn’t hurt to buy a big pack of black and white thread because those colors come up quite often in patterns.

Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed

I dip into this pack of floss quite often! And the cost per skein (which is the official term for the bundle of thread) is much lower than if you bought them skein by skein, which is how you often buy thread.

I picked up this pack IRL at Hobby Lobby and they don’t sell it online, but you can get a similar pack of white from Michael’s for $4.49 and black for $2.47.


You aren’t beholden to thread colors in a design! Use what you have on hand that you think will still capture the ~spirit~ of the design.

Grandma Girl Designs / Etsy, Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed

I made this lovely neon sign design for two friends and didn’t have enough bright blue floss left to do the second. So instead I dug into my ziplock bag of leftovers (y’know, from #1) and found some purple floss that I knew would pop on the black aida cloth.

Download this pattern from Grandma Girl Designs on Etsy for $5.


Don’t have the right color to finish off a section of your pattern? Add in one strand of a similar hue to one or two strands of your desired color thread. It’s kinda like adding water to the hand soap to make it stretch…except no one will notice you did this.

Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed

These two grays may look different enough in my hand, but you can combine strands of the floss for a ~cohesive~ look in your pattern. NBD!


Find affordable, quirky, instant PDF downloads on Etsy in a range of all sizes for way cheaper than kits with all the supplies (or pattern books in stores). Plus, you’ll be supporting a small business!

Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed

And if you’re looking to just use up your thread and cloth scraps, smaller ones like this will be perfect.

Download this pattern from ringcat on Etsy for $3.


This is the oldest trick in the book, but put masking tape on the edges of your cloth to prevent unraveling!

Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed

That’s it! That’s the trick!


If you miscount stitches and *really* mess up a pattern (like I did here!), you can carefully undo the stitches and redo them instead of buying a new project kit.

Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed

Oh, what’s that — a lopsided gift for my friends Aaron and Michael? Nope! I got a bit carried away/distracted while binge-watching some legacy TV on a Saturday afternoon, only to look down and realize I messed up the bottom half. IT IS SALVAGEABLE! Really! This tip will not save you time because you better believe that took some time to redo. But it saved me some cash from buying a replacement because after you’ve said «I made you something» as a host gift, you cannot renege. (Psst, they LOVED it.)

Download this pattern from Junebug & Darlin on Etsy for $6.


*Though* if the mistake is very small, often only you’ll know it’s there! Like, ahem, a mistake I made in the lower right corner of this beaut.

Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed

This one’s all wrinkly because I snapped a pic of it mulling over if this odd corner out was noticeable. I decided it was fine!

Download this pattern from Grandma Girl Designs on Etsy for $5.


Gently wash your finished pieces in CLEAR shampoo to help erase traces of oil from your hands or dirt that may stain your piece over time. This video goes into all the deets:

View this video on YouTube


I’ve used my trusty blue Dawn dish soap multiple times, BUT if you have clear shampoo (really any clear shampoo that isn’t a clarifying one, which would be too rough), you can use that. This video from Peacock & Fig will do allll the explaining for how to give your design a wash and gently squeeze out the excess water with a towel.

BTW, washing your finished pattern is an essential step, whether you’re putting it in a hoop or frame.


If you’re putting your design in a hoop, skip the layer of batting. If it’s in your kit, great! Use it! But don’t go buying it bc it doesn’t make enough of a difference in appearance.

Harpo Productions

Surely I’m not the only one who’s stood glowering at a bag of batting in the craft store and deciding if it’s worth it. Don’t be like me, just skip it and save that $ for another cute Etsy pattern!


Don’t finish a hoop cross-stitch piece with glue! Glue yellows! Instead, use a piece of felt and blanket stitch.

Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed

OK, so this ^ blanket stitch execution could use some work, but I can assure you that the more you practice, the easier/neater it’ll look (as they did in these I executed). I won’t begin to explain to you here how to do it. You’re much better off watching this YouTube video from Cutesy Crafts for a demonstration.


But if you’re like, «NOPE! I am done being crafty» and wanna call it a day by putting your cross-stitch design in a frame, there are plenty of cheap ones at the dollar store.

Walt Lilly / BuzzFeed

I stitched this lil’ Evil Dead design for my brother Walt for Christmas and plopped it in a frame I snagged at the dollar store. It may even be worth stocking up on some in one trip that speak to you design-wise.

And if you run into any snafus during your cross-stitching endeavors, take it from my crafting hero Amy Sedaris: