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Maltese cross stitch icon
Maltese cross stitch

This canvaswork stitch consists of a series of straight stitches fanned out to form the shape of a Maltese cross.  It is similar to two Half Rhodes stitches overlaid at right angles.

Maltese cross stitch is generously sponsored by Anne Mathers


Maltese cross produces a very large raised motif that can be used alone or as part of a pattern. It is a fairly quick stitch to work and can be used in large areas where a very raised texture is needed.


The cross is worked in two overlapping parts. First, make a diagonal stitch from the bottom left-hand side to the top right-hand side across four and up eight canvas threads.


Return to the bottom, one canvas thread across to the right, and take this stitch up to one thread to the left of the top corner. Next, make a third stitch; this one should be vertical across eight threads


Then make a fourth and fifth stitch following the pattern, ending up level with the first stitch.


To make the second part of the cross, bring the needle up two threads across to the left and down two threads from the top left-hand corner. Make a diagonal stitch down to the right, ending two threads up and across from the lower corner of the first part of the cross.


Return to the left, one thread down from the start of the previous stitch and take the thread across to one thread up from the previous stitch.


Make a third horizontal stitch, then a fourth and fifth stitch following the pattern, so that the final stitch is from bottom left to top right.


Work the crosses in horizontal rows, so that their flat ends touch. The following rows fit into the spaces left, so that the centre top of the next cross meets the lower corner of the join of the crosses above.

Maltese cross stitch

Structure of stitch

Embroidery Techniques


  • Mrs Archibald Christie, Samplers and Stitches (1921) , p.69–70
  • Various Authors, The Royal School of Needlework Book of Embroidery (2018) , p.115