Needlework is a broad term referring to the activity of sewing or stitching. The cross-stitch and the punch needle are the most commonly used way to do needlework and embroidery.

Embroidery is an art that allows you to use a needle and thread to create designs on fabric by hand. While machine embroidery creates even stitches, embroidery enables you to select multiple stitches, threads and fabrics. You can even use multiple stitches and different threads in the same piece. Each hand-embroidered project will be unique and reflect the talent and unique style of the person who created it. Mastering all the different types of embroidery stitches can be challenging, and each stitch comes with a beautifully crafted reward!

Because a machine is not involved, embroidery can be used with more delicate fabrics, including cotton flour sack towels. Generally, most woven fabric with a thread count of 28 or higher, which is not too loosely woven or too stiff, will work. Some great fabric choices for embroidery include:

  • Cotton
  • Weaver’s cloth
  • Canvas
  • Quilting cotton
  • Felt

Embroidery allows for added mobility when compared with machine embroidery because you can work on your project wherever you can take your hoop and materials. Because it offers a personal touch, embroidery can often be a great choice for a baby shower or wedding gift. Smaller projects such as napkins, pillowcases, shirts, flour sack towels and placemats may be more manageable with embroidery. Embroidery can also be used to add monograms or details to unique, larger items, such as bedsheets or tablecloths for your home.

Cross-stitch is a type of hand embroidery that uses x-shaped stitches and a tiled pattern to create an image, and for this reason, it often appears less fluid and boxier than regular embroidery. Because of its slightly angular quality, cross-stitch is often used to embroider words or mottos on items. However, when cross-stitch projects use smaller stitches alongside ¼, ½ and ¾ stitches and backstitches, they can create smoother lines.

Cross-stitching uses fabric stretched across a hoop. With stamped cross-stitch, a pattern is printed on fabric, and the embroiderer uses this as a guide to create the final piece. With counted cross-stitch, the embroiderer counts stitches out from the center of the fabric to ensure an even finished look.

Some cross-stitch projects, such as samplers, are framed, and this embroidery technique can also be used for:

  • Bookmarks
  • Boxes
  • Brooches
  • Cuff bracelets
  • Coasters

Learning to cross-stitch may be the best choice for the beginning embroidery artist. Because there is one basic stitch, the x-shaped stitch, which can be used over an entire project, there is no need to learn multiple stitch methods. The x-stitch is also relatively simple to master. With either a stamped pattern or a given count of stitches to follow on grid pattern fabric, it is easy for the beginner to see where the next stitch should be placed.


Punch needle art is a super simple form of embroidery which uses a large needle-like tool to punch loops of yarn into your chosen fabric. It's a fast process which is easy to experiment with to create items for the home such as cushions, wall hangings and hoop art or to create fashionable accessories - upcycle old clothing to give your favourite bags and clothing a new lease of life! This fiber-based art has seen a reinvention in the last few years and is the perfect craft for those who love therapeutic hobbies which you can do in front of the TV!