Cross Stitch Patterns from Fine Art by Scarlet Quince
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Tutorial: Locating the First Stitch

Most people take their first stitch in a chart in the center or at one corner (usually the top left, but it can be any corner). It's your choice, based on your own preference and what involves the least counting. Here's how to find the first stitch.
First stitch: floss calculator
1. Use the fabric calculator to determine the overall fabric size and the size of the margins. There is a link from the pattern page (a button on the left side says "Calculate fabric size"), and a tutorial to walk you through using the calculator.
First stitch: check fabric size
2. Once you have your fabric, measure it to double-check that it's actually big enough.
To start in the center:
First stitch: find fabric center
3. Find the fabric center by folding the fabric into quarters. The point where the folds meet is the center. Mark it with a pin or fabric marker.
First stitch: multipage chart
4a. To find the center point on the chart, you first need to understand that our charts are more than one page, and how the pages are arranged. See Navigating a multipage chart to learn how to find your way around our charts.
First stitch: pages with center marks
4b. You also need to understand our system for marking the center of a multipage chart. A single-page chart has arrows in the margins that point to the center of the chart. In our charts, each page that is in the same row of pages as the center page has an arrow in the left margin. Each page that is in the same column of pages as the center page has an arrow in the top margin. The page containing the actual center is the only one that contains both arrows. In this illustration, the darkened square represents the page containing the chart center. The pages that contain one or both arrows are shown.
First stitch: find center marks
4c. To find the chart page containing the center point, open the chart to a page a few pages before the middle. (For example, if the chart has 40 pages, turn to page 16.) Look for arrows in the top and left margins. When you see an arrow in the left margin, you are in the right row of pages. Keep turning forward until you find an arrow in the top margin. (If the arrow in the left margin disappears, you have gone too far. Page backwards until you find a page with both arrows.) Once you have found the page with two arrows, draw lines extending them. The point where those lines meet is the center of the chart.
To start in a corner:
First stitch: find fabric top left
5. Measure in from the top (or bottom, if you want to start at the bottom) and side as indicated by the fabric calculator. If the pattern is solidly stitched, that's where the first stitch goes.
First stitch: grid corner
6. If the pattern is not solidly stitched, and the closest stitch to the corner of the chart is far away, mark a grid on the fabric starting at the corner point you just located and making a line every 10 stitches. You can do this quickly with a fabric marking pencil -- it doesn't need to be a "permanent" grid. You don't need to grid the whole fabric, just do enough so you don't have to count more than 10 to find the stitch closest to the corner, and so you have some context for the corner area. The illustration shows a possible starting grid for one pattern.

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