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cross-stitching on linen


I have fallen in love with an old-school craft…cross-stitching.

I know it has a reputation for being dated, but that has a lot more to do with the patterns and the cross-stitch kits available than it does the craft itself.

So, this renewed interest in needlework came about when I noticed that my favorite antique textiles were those that were monogrammed.  And then I noticed that most of those monograms were simple cross-stitching, using the natural “grid” pattern in linen to make the X’s.




And then I had the thought that I usually have before tackling a DIY project…

“I can do that!”

So, I did…


…and the results looked so authentic that it had me giddy with excitement to stitch some more.


I have been looking around at various cross-stitch letters online to find the style that will look original on antique linen.  I found a “P” that I liked and marked it out.  Now, I think graph paper would be best for this, but I didn’t have any on hand, so I just worked with what I had.  The boxes in the sketch are empty squares.  I drew them in where I thought I might need help counting.


…and I’m cross-stitching the “P” on a linen tea towel.  It already has a cross-stitch border, so the monogram is going to look perfect on this particular piece.


Here’s a video showing the stitching in action for those “visual learners”…

Jeff was my camera man and he flinched when I nicked him with the needle as I was pulling it back!  Poor guy.  He puts up with a lot!

In fact, I was working on this while on vacation.  If you’re going to cross-stitch, why not do it on a balcony overlooking the ocean?  I told Kriste I was going to work on it while at the beach and she said, “Oh, you’re going to be one of those people.”

Yes, yes I am.


And now I’m noticing cross-stitch on linen everywhere and I can’t wait to draw up some more patterns (which I’ll share) and work on some more projects.

Here are a few pieces I found as inspiration…


Yes, that’s dated 1813!

mms-8210 mms-6317 mms-6737 mms-7044

I’ll turn some of these inspiration pieces into patterns as well, when I have the time.

A few tips for cross-stitching on linen…

  • Select a linen with a larger weave, so your “grid” is larger and easier to count.  I bought some linen napkins from World Market and, while it’s doable, it’s definitely going to be a challenge to add a monogram to them, because the weave is so small.
  • Start with a simple pattern that you can complete in an hour or two.  It’s nice to have something accomplished quickly, so you’re motivated to work on another project.  Something that’s too complicated might end up languishing at the bottom of a drawer and you’ll abandon cross-stitching altogether.
  • Cross-stitch floss comes in six-ply, which is generally too thick to get through the linen.  Pull apart the floss and use two threads at a time.  That’s usually the perfect thickness.
  • Make sure you have a needle that is the right size for cross-stitching/embroidery.  All needles are not the same and having the right tool will make the job easier.
  • And, speaking of tools, you definitely want an embroidery hoop.  It makes your fabric taut and steady, so it’s easier to work on.

And, before I sign off for the night, I had to share where the ottoman above ended up…


I sold it at Lucketts to a woman who thought her cat (Marmalade, I think) would like it as a bed.  She brought it home and the cat climbed right up and slept on it.  I am definitely a cat person, so I appreciated getting a picture of the new owner enjoying it!

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  1. I was wondering if you would stitch your own one day! I’m so glad you did!

    I prefer embroidery over cross stitch, but your M is so beautiful that I might reconsider! I would love it if you shared where you found that monogram, especially if they have an entire alphabet.

    I stitch a lot of monograms, though I tend to sew red ones or white ones rather than blue. I sew them on kitchen towels, pillows, and on handkerchiefs.

    My 14-year-old just sewed several handkerchiefs for herself and embroidered her initial (a “W'” on them. She took her last one to camp to do in the quiet hours, and the other girls were asking why she was initialing it. They were so surprised to see her sewing!

    I collect vintage metal embroidery hoops, and we do all of our embroidery work using those. I pick them up whenever I can find them, as I hope to give several to each of my daughters when they get older.

  2. Stéphanie says:

    Oh, how I love the results of your needlework. It seems that the monogram has always been there. In France, cross stitching is still appreciated, and we can find many books with country or vintage patterns. If you can find one of Anne Van Damme’s patterns, you’ll fall in love !

  3. Denise says:

    I use to cross stitch in the 80’s and still slowly am working on a sampler. Just thought I’d share that you use to be able to buy a plastic grid that you loosely stitch to fabric that served as a grid for cross stitch. I use to use it to stitch on shirts. If you have a site to share for monogram would appreciate it ! You have me motivated!

  4. Donna says:

    I’ve been collecting different patterns of the alphabet to do this. Still have all my cross stitch stuff from the 80’s…the eyes are not as sharp as they used to be, but it is relaxing…

    You can cross stitch over two threads instead of one, so the entire x will be over four all together, it will be larger.

    Happy Stitching!

  5. How did you get what you have on the legal pad on to your linen piece? I too am trying to teach myself to cross stitch. Thx

  6. Leigh Mack says:

    I love the pattern u chose and have been wanting to do this! Lucky for me one of my letters is an M but I also need a B and L. I have been searching the internet for this pattern and cannot find it. Would u mind sharing the link? Thank you…Leigh Mack

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