Alternating Cross Stitch

Alternating Cross stitch is an interesting variety of cross stitch because the stitches on the reverse of the fabric also form a cross stitch. In other words it is reversible! Since cross stitch is one of the oldest stitches in the world there are many variations that have developed over time and are  practiced in different regions around the globe. Cross stitch is used mainly on even-weave fabrics, where the threads can be counted. Like regular cross stitch Alternating Cross stitch is worked even weave fabrics so use a even weave linen or Aida cloth.

How to work Alternating Cross Stitch

step by step instructions on how work Alternating Cross stitch 1

To work cross stitch using this method, first work every second diagonal stitch of a row.

step by step instructions on how work Alternating Cross stitch 2On the return journey work the missing diagonal stitches. On the back of your work you will have diagonal stitches facing in the other direction to those on the front.

step by step instructions on how work Alternating Cross stitch 3Next on the third journey work every second top diagonal stitch.

step by step instructions on how work Alternating Cross stitch 4Finally the last row, work the final top diagonals on the return journey.

The back of your work will look like the front but you will have a straight stitch at the turn of each row. If anyone can figure out how to avoid that let me know as I have been puzzling over it. Also if you want to show the back of your work, this is a situation where you need to start your thread using two small back stitches so that once the embroidery is done it is hard to see where you started. This sort of cross stitch would be ideal for anything you wanted to show both sides of like a decorative pattern on a hand towel.

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13 Responses to Alternating Cross Stitch

  1. Donna Elmer says:

    i once saw a x stitch of George Washington which looked the same on both sides she wouldn’t tell me how she did it but I would love to learn how to do that would this method work?

  2. kathryn says:

    The way to do it without the quarter stitch is to NOT make your reverses in the same direction. Work the last X as a “reverse” hense the name, so that on the return you are making the REVERSE leg and direction. Here’s a photo. The photo is a left handed cross stitcher, but it shows it perfectly. http://www.fruncesybordados.com.mx/Reversible%20Cross%20Stitch.htm

    • kathryn says:

      However, it looks like the quarter stich is needed on the 3rd reverse, so…. but ive used this method for years, and on this procedure, the line goes through the inside of the X and not over the top, and you cant see it. Until now i never even noticed it. The top would be more noticeable. Anyway, the link i provided is how i was taught and im nordic so its fine having a hidden line but the quarter stitch will work if you can keep track of it and not kose yr place. For me, the back side can have an inner line every two rows

  3. Donna Walker says:

    to create reversible cross stitch with out having the straight stitch at the beginning or end of a row, it is necessary to do the first or last cross differently. I am not sure i can explain it verbally, but I will try. In many stitch diagrams they show the place you put the first X as A,B, C, D. to start the first stitch you will come up in the threads that are in the center of the block made by the a, b, c, d. and then go up to a and work the alternating cross stitch as you have show, then each time you change direction you do the same thing, into the center and out to the corner that you need to do next. I found it on a site that showed medieval needlework techniques. If i can find the links again I will post it here.

  4. Janie says:

    Thanks for that tutorial, I love cross stitch, basic, but so useful and effective.

  5. Hi Sharon,
    I love this stitch. Your stitch instructions are very useful. Thank you for the good work.
    Chitra

  6. Anneliese says:

    Hello Sharon, I am always here but not always with TAST- stitches sumptuous Surface stitches are occupying my mind -at present xx

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