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Three-quarter Cross Stitch (Of Course You Can Do It) by Jo Verso

Evenweave fabrics offer a choice of nine workable holes in the space of one cross stitch (above) Four three-quarter stitches, one in each direction, and (below) two three-quarter stitches stitched back-to-back in the space of one full cross stitch.

I considered titling this article ‘The Dreaded Three-quarter Cross Stitch’, because I am frequently told that it is a difficult stitch to work. In fact, with a little practice, this stitch should hold no terrors.

Why bother to master it? Nowadays, more and more designs rely on fractional stitches. Anything can be charted for cross stitch if there are enough squares on the graph paper to make small details appear naturalistic, but designs then tend to be huge and have to be stitched on the finest fabrics to reduce them to a reasonable size. Three-quarter cross stitch can produce the illusion of curves and a much more naturalistic appearance in a smaller space. A full cross stitch produces a square shape when stitched, and a three-quarter cross stitch produces a right-angled triangle; the combination of these two shapes fools the eye into seeing curves so that much more detail can be achieved.

Three-quarter cross stitch is best worked on evenweave fabric which provides a central hole into which the quarter stitch is worked. The aida block has no central hole so one has to be pierced with the needle, at best a hit and miss affair. Many aida addicts resist the move to evenweave fabric, though the transition involves only moving from stitching over one block to stitching over two threads. I have students who work away happily on 14-count aida but have a fit of the vapours when I show them a 27-count evenweave Linda fabric. When I point out that the aida fabric is in fact finer, they are tempted to ‘have a go’, and I have never failed to convert anyone yet.

The blocks of aida fabrics form a regular square background pattern where there is no stitching, but evenweave fabrics give a smoother less obtrusive background. Also, with evenweave fabrics you have the choice of nine workable holes in the space of one cross stitch (see diagram), whereas with aida there are only four, so evenweave obviously offers more possibilities. By graduating to evenweave you do not have to abandon your aida forever, but you do open up the whole new world of fractional stitches and a wealth of new designs, mine included, will be within your grasp.

A little time spent practising on a scrap of spare fabric is enough to make you wonder what all the fuss was about.

Three Quarter Diagram 1

Evenweave fabrics offer a choice of nine workable holes in the space of one stitch.

Three Quarter Diagram 2

Four three-quarter stitches, one in each direction

Three Quarter Diagram 3

and two three-quarter stitches back-to-back in the space of one full cross stitch.

Three-quarter Cross Stitch

The Golden Rules

  1. Make sure you can see the threads of the evenweave fabric clearly. If not, work on a coarser fabric, or avail yourself of some specs or one of the many magnifying devices on the market. I am particularly decrepit and wear a magnifying glass that clips onto my specs; I look like something from the planet Zog, but at least can see and enjoy my stitching!
  2. Work the first half of the cross stitch as usual, sloping the stitch in the direction shown on the chart. This may mean breaking the other Golden Rule of having the bottom half of your crosses always lying in the same direction, but it is worth it.
  3. Always work the second ‘quarter’ stitch over the top and down into the central hole to anchor the first half of the stitch.
  4. Where two three-quarter stitches lie back-to-back in the space of one full cross stitch, work both of the respective ‘quarter’ stitches into the central hole.
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