Back to Basics Wednesday – Ways to Start Your Stitching

Howdy stitchy folk! I am a newbie stitcher (I have only been at it for a couple of years), so I have decided to share some of the little wisdom I have compiled during my journeys through cross stitching blogs, tutorials, YouTube videos and Yahoo groups with all of you in a series I am calling “Back to Basics”.

I’ve realized that when it comes to the needle arts everyone has their own way of doing everything, which means there is always a newer/cheaper/easier way to make your projects beautiful. Luckily for me, I know I don’t know much at all so I am always on the lookout for better ways to make my stitching time more enjoyable. First up on Back to Basics Wednesdays, a how-to on starting your threads.

Starting Your Threads

When I first started stitching, most of the tutorials I read, and all of the kit instructions I muddled through, said to simply pull the thread through the fabric for the first stitch but to leave a tail behind. As I started, this tail was supposed to be covered by the stitches I was making. The first problem I’d found with this method was if I pulled too hard, I was liable to snatch the whole thread from the fabric and have to start over. Then I read somewhere that I should pull the floss through completed stitches on the back first (if there were any) and that could help anchor my threads. This did help a little, but even when I did not pull the floss loose I did not like the appearance of of my backs using this method – little danglies everywhere! And if I was working on an ornament, forgetaboutit, I would run out of stitches to run the thread under and tighten up the x’s on top something terrible. Luckily enough for me, I found a much better way.

Loop Method

This is my favorite way to start threads, hands down. Cut a piece of floss twice as long as you normally would and bring the ends together, creating a loop. Thread your needle with the cut ends first, leaving the loop at the other end. Bring your needle up through the fabric and leave the loop on the back. Come back down through the fabric, and pass your needle through the loop. Tighten the loop by gently pulling on the thread, and start your stitching as usual. That’s it! Not only will this method keep your floss firmly anchored, it uses less thread. Here’s a picture from EMS Cross Stitch Design showing how to do it (for the more visually minded):


Some of out there may be thinking “Yeah, that’s great if you are using an even number of threads, but what if you need to use an odd number?” Alrighty then, smarty pants, I have another method for you, and it is one I use not only for odd numbers of threads, but for those times when I want to use a needle that has been pre-threaded and I do not want to pull out a fresh piece of floss.

Pin Stitch Method

This one is a little harder to explain, but I am going to try my best y’all. Instead of coming up from the bottom of the fabric, pull your threaded needle through the middle of your first stitch from the top of the fabric. Leave a small tail of thread on top of the fabric and hold it down with your finger. Bring your needle up through the bottom of the same stitch and pull it gently (hold on to that tail). Bring your needle down through the center again. Now bring your needle back up through the lower left corner and down through the upper right corner (basically half a cross stitch to cover the pin stitch). Cut the tail off as close to the fabric as you can, and now you are ready to stitch as usual. If you need more of a visual presentation, check out this tutorial.

Those are my two favorite ways to start my stitching, but if you have another way that works for you please share it in the comments section. Thanks for reading through all this, and I hope you make something beautiful today 🙂

Buttons and patches and the cold wind blowing,
The days pass quickly when I am sewing.
~Author Unknown

About Shaunterria

How to know you have the right Shaunterria? Are they a bibliophile, gamer, wife, mother of two, cross-stitching introverted movie-music-sci fi lover? If yes, you have found the right one. Although there's only three or four of us to start with. So there's that.


  1. Mike Stewart says:

    Shaunterria, Awesome blog. When I taught cross stitching at a local craft store I taught your 2 ply method. As for an odd number of threads I use the lasso the tail method and explain that if they’re careful they can cover the tail with the first few stitches. All your methods work, it just depends what you’re doing. Thanks for sharing and have a Merry Christmas. 🙂

  2. I have always used the leave a tail method and I’ve been an avid stitcher for years. I think I will try the loop method. I’m assuming that for using two strands of floss, you would just use one doubled over in this case.

  3. Unbelievable that I did not figure out the loop method after all the embroidery work I have done in the past using some stitches that were done in a similar manner. I am definitely going to try this out on my cross stitch. I use the “one thread doubled over” a lot of the time however I have just threaded the needle with one thread then pulled it down even with the “hanging” piece, bringing the needle up from the bottom of the fabric leaving the usual little tail that I stitch over to cover. Now this new loop method has completely made my day. I have always hated how the back of the fabric looks but this should really clean it up. Thank you Shaunterria!!!!

  4. I am wondering if thr nap of the thread/yarn has any effect on this methis. Love it for cross stitching.

  5. Wow, I remember commenting on this one. It’s still an awesome guide for beginners!

  6. I use the ends together thru the needle then when you make your first stitch catch the loop in back. This makes a tight start almost like a knot

  7. Well I hold the end of my thread and stitch over it.

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