Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Cross for Church Linens



This is one of the questions I receive via e-mail quite often, and I figured I may as well put it on the website, just in case there are other stitchers out there wondering the same thing.

How do you embroider the little red cross that is traditionally found on most church altar linens? Normally, this cross is quite small and is actually cross stitched. While it doesn’t have to be cross-stitched, and while it doesn’t have to follow this pattern, this is a typical pattern that is very neat and tidy, tiny, and pretty, and it serves its purpose well.

Cross for Church Linens

The small red cross that marks church linens serves a couple purposes: one, it obviously marks the piece of linen for sacred use – it is used for religious rites; and two, it marks the correct side or area of the linen, for folding purposes.

So if you embroider church linens and have wondered how to stitch up a decent little cross on them, this is the pattern I regularly use and it works out very nicely every time.


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(6) Comments

  1. Thank you for this tutorial. Although I don’t embroidery Church linens proffesionaly. I would like to try this cross on other things.

  2. How do you keep the back neat? The difficulty with most linens is that the back will often be seen, and cross stitch (in particular) has an awkward back unless you take several extra stitches in an attempt to make the cross stitch reversable.

  3. You provided a nice pattern for Cross for Church Linens, but no instructions on how to do it. I knew next to nothing about cross stitching and embroidering and need to learn how to sew the crosses on church linens. So far all the websites I have searched only showed patterns, but no “how to’s”. Your instruction would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi, Sister – since the Red Cross on church linens is usually very small, I cross stitch it using the pattern above, usually over one or two threads of linen. Hope that helps!

    2. Thank you for the reply. I understand the pattern. What I do not know is how to cross stitch it. I can make some guesses, but most likely make a mess of it, lol.

    3. Hello, Sister – For every square on the pattern, that’s where an X goes. So, determine the center of your linen (or wherever you’re placing the cross) and count the number of squares up and over to your starting point – say, the top of the cross. Make an X in thread for each block on the graph, and for each empty block on the graph, skip that many intersections on the linen. To keep the embroidery looking consistent, make all your X’s so that the bottom stitch of the X all go in the same direction, and the top stitch (the crossing stitch) on each X all go in the same direction. You’ll notice if you look at the linen closely, that the weave creates a kind of grid, so just think of the fabric as a grid, just like the pattern. If, however, the weave is very fine, then you might have to think of one fabric square as the intersection of two threads in one direction and two in another, that makes a square divisible into four tiny squares, so that instead of stitching over one thread, you’re stitching over two (and covering 4 total with one X). Here are some guides that might help explain the stitching part: http://www.caron-net.com/patguide.html and http://www.hcrafts.com/counted_cross_stitch_tutorial.html (this one shows over 2 fabric threads, covering four threads total with each cross stitch). If your linen is fine, my guess is you’ll use one strand (from the six) of floss over either one or two fabric threads. Not sure if all that is much help, but the guides might explain better. ~MC

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