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Single motifs are uncommon in peasant embroidery; instead the motifs are usually repeated to form straight bands, which are then arranged above one another.
Traditional Greek Island designs can have as many as six or seven different bands put together to form an intricate border, which is usually finished with a pattern that creates a broken outer edge.
But over time it came to cover all stitched decoration on any textile fabric.
From the historical and archaeological evidence available, there is not yet enough accurate information to trace the exact origins of cross stitch embroidery.
The earliest example of a complete cross stitch is a design worked in upright crosses on linen, and the piece was discovered in a Coptic tomb in Upper Egypt, where it was preserved by the dry desert climate dating from about 500AD in Upper Egypt.
Very few pieces of decorated fabric have survived from ancient civilisations, but this does not mean that decorative stitching was rarely used.
There are many regional variations of similar cross stitch shapes, including eight-pointed star, heart, flower and bird motifs, as each basic shape is translated to fit the grid of the fabric in a slightly different way.
Many earlier stitches are now our most common and more easily executed ones One of the most important and widespread functions of cross stitch has been to ornament peasant garments and household linens, often as a way of indicating family wealth and status in the community.