Cross Stitch Fabrics
When I started to stitch back in the 1980s there was very little choice of fabric available for stitchers.
In the UK, it was either fine linen or 14-count aida fabric and that was about it! Now there is so much
choice it can be quite confusing and leave the stitcher, particularly a newcomer, quite at a loss.
From Chart to Fabric
All counted designs are made up of squares or parts of squares. The picture, pattern or motif is
transferred to the fabric by matching the weave of the fabric to the squares of the pattern or chart.
The design is transferred onto the fabric by counting the squares on the chart and matching them to
the threads of the fabric (hence the name 'counted' cross stitch), so each stitch appears in the right
There are two main groups of fabric for counted embroidery: aida (woven in blocks) and evenweave
(woven with single threads forming the warp and weft). All fabrics for counted embroidery are woven
so that they have the same number of threads or blocks to 2.5cm (1in) in both directions, so the
stitches will appear as squares or parts of squares.
Fabric for counted embroidery is bought by its thread count, which tells us its fineness. So, 14-count
fabric has 14 blocks or threads to each 2.5cm (1in). The more threads or blocks to 2.5cm (1in), the
finer the fabric.
This excellent cotton fabric is woven in blocks, giving obvious holes for the needle to enter, so it is
ideal for the beginner.
Aida is available in 8, 11, 14, 16 and 18 blocks to 2.5cm (1in).
When stitching on aida, one block on the fabric corresponds to one square on the chart. Certain
stitches (such as three-quarter stitch) are more difficult to form on aida than on evenweave.
Stitching on Aida
All the fabrics in the aida family are woven with the threads grouped into bundles to form a square
pattern on the fabric, which in turn creates obvious holes.
The stitches are formed using these holes. Aida is available in many different colours and counts and
because it is so easy to see the holes and therefore where to put the needle, beginners tend to work on
This picture shows how the fabric count affects the size of the finished motif.
The advantages of aida are:
It is wonderful for cross stitch as it creates very square stitches
It is easy to see where to put your needle
Projects seem to grow quickly
It is perfect for checks, tartan and gingham designs
It frays less than evenweaves, unless encouraged
Aida is now available made of linen threads, which is lovely to handle
The disadvantages of aida are:
Fractional stitches are more difficult to form
You are limited to using the holes created by the fabric manufacturer
Some counted stitches need more fabric threads for formation
This lovely, if slightly more expensive, fabric made from flax has been used for counted cross stitch for
centuries. Linen has natural irregularities, which add to the charm of your stitching, and help to
emulate the style of an antique piece. It is available in white, antique white, cream, raw or natural
shades - and some gorgeous new colours, featured in our Linen Cupboard.
Stitching on linen is no more complicated than stitching on aida, but requires a different technique. To
even out the irregularities, cross stitch is worked over two threads in each direction.
You could buy some linen today by visiting the Linen Cupboard in our Stitchers Market Link to shop
Stitching on Evenweave
This range of fabrics has threads woven singly rather than in blocks. Evenweaves are available in
many colours and counts and working on evenweave is not difficult, just different.
The yellow flower garland below illustrates this perfectly.You can see the finished pieces are the same
size on evenweave as on Aida because each stitch is formed over two threads instead of one block,
therefore a 28-count evenweave has the same stitch count as a 14-count Aida – 28 threads to 2.5cm
(1in) = 14 blocks to 2.5cm (1in). Evenweave can also be worked over one thread or when very fine
detail is required
Zweigart Linda (evenweave)
Linda is similar to linen in appearance. Made from a mixture of cotton and synthetic fibres, it is ideal
for products that need to be 'easy-care', such as baby clothes and table linens.
The Victorians loved stitching on perforated or punched paper, producing bookmarks, needlecases,
pincushions, glove and handkerchief boxes, notebook covers and greeting cards.
Today's Stitching Paper is based as closely as possible on the early Victorian punched paper. It can be
stitched, folded, glued and cut to make pretty cross stitch projects.