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  • Writer's pictureRhona Norrie

"Unpicking" your cross stitch

The text "How to Unpick Your Cross Stitch" sits on top of white aida cloth. Also on the cloth is a pink cross stitched heart.

This article explains how to "undo" your stitching if you make a mistake.


Oops! I've made a mistake.

That’s a cry you hear from many stitchers no matter how experienced they are. For some reason, many websites that explain how to cross stitch never tackle the subject of what to do if you make a mistake!

So you’ve stitched using the wrong colour, or did more stitches than you should have, or maybe just placed the stitch in the wrong place… what do you do? Do you have to throw away all your hard work and start again? Absolutely not! Just take a deep breath and read on…

You can correct your mistake by removing that errant stitch (or stitches) by unpicking them. In the stitching world this is commonly called "frogging" because you have to "rip it" (which sounds a bit like noise a frog makes). But you really aren’t ripping anything… just doing what I like to call "reverse stitching".

How to "reverse stitch":

Take your needle (unthreaded) and gently pull away each arm of the cross that you made. If you have completed a row of stitches and finished off your thread by catching it through the back of some stitches, then you have to tease out the length of thread, then start to remove your stitches.

You need to think about how you made your stitches: did you make each one singly (completing each X before moving on) or did you do a row of the bottom part of the stitch then go back along doing the top part?

If you made each X in full, then to unpick it you would remove the top part of the stitch then the bottom part. If you made a row of bottom parts then returned making the top part of the stitches, you would remove all the top parts of the stitch, then return along the row removing the bottom parts of the stitch.

Think about it as doing your stitching in reverse…hence the name ‘reverse stitching!


Don't forget to take a look at the other posts in our Beginner's Guide to Cross Stitch - it includes free charts for you to follow!

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