A Stitch Along, or SAL, is a sequential stitch project in which an entire design is stitched in consecutive parts.
Generally SALs are cross stitch pattern projects, are completed within a certain timeframe and you receive a new part of the pattern to stitch along with other stitchers. They can also be called a stitch-a-long, or StitchAlong.
Stitch Alongs are often themed, and you may get seasonal designers, or ones that reflect popular cultural references.
What types of Stitch Along are there?
There are two main types of SAL:
- “Normal” Stitch Alongs where you can see the whole design from the start.
- Mystery StitchAlongs (MSALs) where the design is kept secret and only revealed over time.
Many SALs tend to be Mystery SALs, as these are generally more fun; you don’t know what the pattern will be at the start, and you can share the voyage of discovery week by week, or month by month, with your fellow Stitchers.
These days Stitch Alongs are often accompanied by a Facebook group as a private place for stitchers to share their experiences as the patterns are released.
Why Should I Join A SAL?
Cross Stitch can be a solitary pursuit, and there is a lot of pleasure in stitching together with other people. SALs and Mystery SALs give you a great excuse to share your progress with other cross stitchers and to enjoy stitching a pattern at the same time as others.
Some SALs, like the legendary Steotch-Alongs, actively encourage people to make stitchy friends and stitch in groups. They have had international teams and really ramp up the excitement in for everyone who is making the pattern together.
Mystery Stitch Alongs can be a lot of fun because although you can see the pattern in pieces, it may take some time to understand what the pattern looks like in one big piece. For example, our Life In The Fast Lane XSAL showed 12 shapes that you could guess would be people and cars, but the individual pieces were revealed on a monthly basis. Each of the characters in Life in the Fast Lane had a backstory as well as a star sign, favourite food and favourite song – it was pretty cool!
Great SALs take you on a journey with your stitching, often changing the expected direction of a design so that you are surprised with the result. Some projects have multiple final pieces, so that you can modify the design to make it your own and there are other ways to make these communal projects individual if you wish.
How Do I Get The Pattern In A Stitch-A-Long?
When you join a Stitch Along project, even if it is a Mystery SAL, you should receive basic instructions on how to prepare for the project. These should include:
- The dimensions of the project on different sizes of fabric.
- The thread or floss list
- A simple tutorial on how to cross stitch
By getting this information before the cross stitch project starts, you can get the materials you need, and, more importantly, get excited waiting for the next part of the design. This is where the shared community really comes alive.
In CanCan (XSAL 003) there was a lot of debate on what the pattern would be, as each part increased the number of colours but didn’t really give a lot away in terms of the design. It really was a Pop Art stash buster!
What happens when a Stitch A Long Ends?
At XStitch, once a stitchalong ends, we make the whole pattern available as a standalone design. You can still access the project in individual parts if you want to have the fun of stitching each piece in order, but we give you the chance to stitch the final design in the way that suits you most.
Some Stitch Along patterns are limited editions and stop being available to new stitchers when the project finishes. That makes them a really exclusive challenge!
Climbing Goat Designs produce magnificent science-inspired StitchAlongs, and once the challenge is complete, you are able to get the whole design in one file so that you can enjoy stitching it at your own pace. We really love them!
What If I’m New To Cross Stitch?
If you are a beginner, depending on the size of the stitch-along you should not find it too confusing. A good SAL pattern will show you the elements to stitch in each part, as well as the larger pattern for context.
As with all cross stitch designs, if you take some time and count carefully, you should be able to follow along with the pattern progress with the other stitchers.
It is important to remember that StitchAlong projects are meant to be fun, and even through they may be released on a weekly or monthly schedule, it’s not a race!
(If you do want tips on how to cross stitch faster, there’s a great post over at Mr X Stitch to help!)
Our 12 Days of Xmas XStitchAlong was a great project for new stitchers as it only had five colours for the whole project, which kept costs to a minimum, and the playful design had lots of empty space, making it a pretty easy design to keep up with!
What Is An XStitchAlong (XSAL)?
XStitch Alongs are our version of these classic communal cross stitch challenges. We love working with Pixel Artists to take their designs and turn them into mystery cross stitch patterns. As you can see from the images in the article, we try to make the progress on our XSALs as interesting as possible, while making sure that you have fun stitching.
Our first XSAL – Cagliostro – kept the final part a big secret, taking the stitchers on a journey building a landscape before the final part revealed the characters and the story.
We have a dedicated XStitchAlong Hangout Facebook Group for people who take part in our XStitchAlongs, and they become a hive of excitement as the pattern progresses.
Our XStitchAlong patterns contain interactive links so that you can easily buy the threads you need for each part.
We produce charts in four formats for each XSAL:
- Colour Blocks & Symbols for the whole design at each point – depending on which part of the XSAL you’re at
- Symbols Only for the whole design at each point – an easy way to mark off progress
- Colour Blocks & Symbols for the latest piece – so you can focus on what needs to be done at each stage
- Symbols Only for the the latest piece – for the least distracted version of the chart
While there are many Stitch Alongs to choose from – from seasonal to unusual – at XStitch, we pride ourselves on making each one a different experience to the last, so that you enjoy a new adventure each time.
Stitch Alongs are a great way to share the joy of stitching with people around the world, so try our XSALs now and join the fun!
Sign up for our latest XStitchAlong – Morning Walk!
It launches on 1st January 2023 and is a 9 part exploration of the soulful pleasure of being out in nature!