The History of Cross-Stitch


Cross-stitch, which is a form of embroidery, has been around for hundreds of years. The earliest embroidery sample that includes cross-stitch was found in an Egyptian tomb and dates between 600 and 700 C.E. Today many companies produce a wide variety of patterns and kits, which has helped spark a resurgence in crafting as a stress-relieving activity.


  • Blackwork, a geometric design in black on white linen fabric, is believed to be a precursor of modern cross-stitch. It was popular in England in the 1600s.

Early Uses

  • Cross-stitch was first used to decorate household textiles like table linens and curtains.

First Pattern Book

  • The first cross-stitch pattern book was published in Germany in 1524. Early books were printed in black ink, leaving the color choices to the stitcher.


  • Samplers, or exemplars, designed to show off a young girl's sewing skills, popularized cross-stitch. The name comes from women stitching "samples" of their favorite stitches.


  • By the 1700s, samplers had become more complex, including intricate geometric and floral designs, fancy alphabets and Biblical or moral quotations.

Modern Designs

  • Innovation in fabric and floss colorations after 1900 caused a decline in the traditional sampler in favor of more detailed patterns including landscapes, flowers and animals.

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  • Photo Credit Kim Kenney
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