History of Cross-Stitch Embroidery

History of Cross-Stitch Embroidery

History of Cross-Stitch Embroidery

Cross embroidery is one of the most popular types of needlework. Is it difficult to learn to embroider? Like any endeavor, embroidery requires care and accuracy, and most importantly - a great desire and diligence. Embroidery has always been a favorite pastime of needlewomen. Made by their own hands, beautiful embroidery can easily fit into any interior and will be a great gift for any holiday. Cross stitch embroidery - a magnificent and most popular needlework. Embroideries look spectacular, especially when perfectly shaped cross stitch.

There is no accurate information about where and when embroidery appeared in general, and when cross embroidery was separated into a separate kind of needlework. Original embroideries dating back to earlier than the XII century, almost no remains. But images of clothing and interior items indicate that embroidery appeared much earlier. In different countries, the patterns differed in style and colors used. In embroidery reflected the national color and their own vision of beauty of each nation.

In Western Europe, counted embroidery became particularly popular in the 16th century. At that time, it consisted mainly of biblical subjects and texts, combining various techniques of execution. By the end of the XVIII century on the samples of embroidery clearly began to prevail classical cross stitch. And on the subjects of embroidery became more diverse.

In the East, embroideries traditionally decorated household utensils - carpets, capes, pack sacks. A distinctive feature of Oriental embroidery is the variety of colors used and the complexity of the ornament. The Great Silk Road contributed to the spread of embroidery in Europe.

The most famous are Italian cross embroidery, long arm cross embroidery and Montenegrin embroidery. Italian cross embroidery and Montenegrin embroidery are reversible, which means that the work looks the same on both sides. These styles are slightly different from regular cross embroidery. These more intricate stitches are rarely used in traditional embroidery, but they are still used to recreate historical works of embroidery or by creative and adventurous embroiderers.


Cross embroidery (cross) is a type of counted embroidery. Stitches are called counted if the length of the stitches is determined by the same (counted) number of warp threads. Counting stitches include:

  • the cross is simple;
  • the cross is double-sided;
  • double cross - Bulgarian, Italian, Montenegrin;
  • the interlaced stitch is Slavic, Albanian;
  • double stitch - Spanish herringbone, Turkish triangle;
  • half-cross;
  • counting iron.

“This is the earliest dated British sampler to have survived, and its inscription commemorates the birth of a child, Alice Lee, two years earlier. Its maker, Jane Bostocke, who is known to have been a cousin of Alice’s and was buried in the village where she lived, may have lived in the Lee family household. The motifs at the top of the sampler relate to their family crests. The sampler is from a period of transition in the practical use of such items – between the 16th century and earlier when they served as a reference piece for a more or less experienced embroiderer, and what gradually became their nature in the 17th century: a method of measuring and recording the maker’s skill.

The embroidery is worked in cross stitch and backstitch but there are examples of work in more complicated stitches showing that the backstitch was intended to be a grounding for further elaboration. Other stitches include satin, chain, ladder, buttonhole and detached buttonhole filling, couching in patterns, coral, speckling, two-side Italian cross, bullion and French knots and beadwork.”

Source: Victoria and Albert Museum, London