Victorian Cross Stitch

The Victorian Cross stitch - and contemporary needlepoint.  Isn't that a misfit?  And, what makes it "Victorian"?  Did it originate in Victorian England, or is it the fact that the canvas is so covered up the stitches won't slip off.


The Victorian Cross stitch is widely used in Britain and became popular during the reign of Queen Victoria.  It is recommended for many of our kits from Britain: Animal Fayre, Primavera, Fine Cell Work and especially Elizabeth Bradley, and can be used on any canvas or design.   The Victorian Cross stitch is also recommended for all canvases you do as rugs-yes rugs, because it is the most durable stitch in needlepoint. 

So, you’re not stitching a rug, and not doing a kit – where should you use the Victorian Cross stitch.   Anywhere you want the area to look heavier, more filled in than the rest. If using plied thread (more than one strand), you will want to use less strands than otherwise recommended for your canvas. So if you are stitching on 13 mesh mono and the recommended use of cotton floss is 6 strands, ply down to 4. If doing 18 mesh (recommended use of 4 strands), ply down to 3 strands.  And you’ll need more thread than usual, so let us know.

The Victorian Cross stitch varies from the traditional cross stitch in the manner in which it is done. The traditional cross stitch is done in continuous rows moving in one direction, and returning back over all stitches in the row.

cross stitch diagram

The Victorian Cross is done one stitch at a time, moving behind the first stitch to do the cross over.  It uses more thread than any other stitch in needlepoint.  And, as such, is more durable. The Victorian Cross moves from right to left across the canvas. 

Your first stitch is one tent to the right.  But, instead of continuing, you backtrack under that stitch to the left.  (Diagrams by Elizabeth Bradley)

Victorian Cross stitch

Second step:  Place a tent stitch in the opposite direction to make the cross.  When done, move to the left to start again.

Victorian Cross stitch in needlepoint

Repeat the pattern moving from the bottom left to top right.

Victorian cross stitch in needlepoint

Continue the pattern:

Victorian cross stitch in needlepoint
This colored diagram shows 4 stitches completed:  It is stitched from left to right.  The blue stitches are done from bottom left to top right, the green from top left to bottom right.  Each stitch is done separately.  The grey line shows where your next stitch begins.   And, don't forget - your next row needs to go in the same direction.  The top stitch will always go from top left to bottom right (green arrows). 

the victorian cross stitch in needlepoint

Try the Victorian Cross stitch on your next project.