Stitching a Plaid


As we learned in the article about tartans, a plaid is just stripe made in two directions. We use this aspect of plaids to stitch them as well.

As long as you know the colors, the stripes’ widths, and the sequence, you can stitch any plaid. They are all stitched exactly the same way.

rob roy, or lumberjck, tartan charted for needlepoint or cross stitch by janet perry

We’ll use the Rob Roy plaid as the example. Begin by stitching the vertical stripes. The picture above shows the chart for this.

Since you stitched every other stitch, the result looks like very odd stripes.

rob roy, or lumberjack, tartan charted for needlepoint or cross stitch by janet perry
rob roy, or lumberjack, tartan c

Once the vertical stripes are complete, fill in the horizontal stripes. As you do what had been stripes, becomes a plaid.

You did it all with a blank canvas, some thread, and either a chart of the plaid or notes about the sequence.

The process is the same in any form of counted work, with any square stitch, and for a plaid of any type. Once you know the numbers, a plaid is one of the easiest patterns to reproduce.

There’s no need to make it complicated.


  1. a novice here … how would one approach the stitching of the vertical stripes (needlepoint)? Would you suggest using the basketweave stitch or continental worked either vertically or horizontally?

  2. Author

    In general when stitching the stripes in a plaid, I use Half-Cross stitch. This stich, while you wouldn’t use it for a solid block of needlepoint, creates a diagonal Tent Stitch on both front and back.

    I do this for two reasons, first with two passes of stitches, this keeps the needlepoint from being too stiff. Second, by stitching in two passes over every other intersection, it creates a stable stitch and intersection.

    Keep Stitching,

  3. Meg and I are so happy for the opportunity for the French Knot to countine filling the needs and interests of those that have a passion for needlepoint and knitting. We hope to foster an atmosphere that is fun, inviting, educational, and informative. Of course that can’t happen without great customers and friends that participate in this mission. We hope to see and meet all of you at the open house this Saturday, March 16th, 10:00am – 3:00pm.

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