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As we learned with French knots, nothing is going to improve your stitches more than practice, and thankfully, none of us are strangers to practicing our stitches! Nevertheless, here are a few tips that I have found helpful in making these basic Xs.

  1. Always make the stitches cross the same way. If you're a right-handed stitcher, this typically means the top stitch will be oriented from top left to bottom right or vice versa. If you're a left-handed stitcher, you might cross from bottom left to top right or vice versa. Honestly, both are correct, and your finished project will not suffer depending on which you prefer, but please, please, please make sure they all cross in the same direction!
  2. Watch your twisting. I roll my needle when I stitch. I roll my needle a lot when I stitch, which means my thread twists and twists. Make it a habit to check your thread strands every few stitches to make sure that your stitches are laying flat. When your threads twist, your stitches begin to take on a bumpy texture, which isn't what we want. Let your needle untwist before going forward. Using a laying tool works well too.
  3. Don't tense up. Pay special attention to your tension when pulling your threads; don't pull too loosely or tightly as you stitch. Maintain the same throughout. If you pull too tightly, you will create holes in your fabric; if you pull too loosely, your threads will be bumpy.
  4. Make use of partial stitches when the patterns call for them. Partial stitches (1/4, 1/2 or 3/4 stitches) are exactly that. Rather than making a full X, some patterns will call for a partial to create a curve in the design, a lighter section, etc. Pay attention to where in the grid square the small symbol falls for a 1/4 or 3/4 stitch; wherever it falls in the grid is where you will make it in your project; if you're working on Aida, you will likely have to pierce the center of the square to make these stitches.