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Choosing A Cross Stitch Fabric

If you are a beginner to cross stitching it may be a little confusing as to what fabric to use. The most common types of fabric for cross stitching are Aida, Evenweave and Linen, but how do you tell the difference between the three and how do you know which one is best to use? Read on!

Let’s go back to basics…

Cross stitch is made up of squares or parts of squares. Each cross stitch pattern is transferred to a fabric by matching the weave of the fabric to the squares of the pattern or chart. This is done by counting the squares on the chart and matching them to the threads of the fabric, so each stitch appears in the right place.

Things to take into consideration are the type of fabric and the count. The count of the fabric is the number of threads per inch. If the fabric were 14 count there would be 14 threads per inch, therefore 18 count means 18 threads per inch and so forth. There are three types of fabric you can choose from; Aida, linen and Evenweave.


For beginners it is probably best to start with 100% cotton Aida fabric. Its square patterned weave and clear stitching holes makes this fabric easy to use and allows the needle to glide easily through. Aida creates very square stitches, frays less than evenweave and comes in a wide range of colours and counts. It is also a stiffer, heavier fabric than evenweave and linen fabric so makes it easier to handle for beginners.

The disadvantages are fractional stitches, which are difficult to stitch and the blocks are obvious in the background of a design when stitched. It is important to make sure that all your stitches cross the front in the same direction. This keeps the work looking neat and tidy. Find out more about how to cross stitch with Aida fabric.


Linen is slightly more expensive than Aida and has natural irregularities which give it an antique, traditional finish. Some linens are quite loosely woven, causing threads carried across the back of the work to be easily visible from the front. It is available in various colours and counts. You stitch over two threads which is the equivalent to stitching over one block on aida fabric. Therefore if a chart is to be stitched on 28-count and you want to use aida fabric, 14-count would give you the same design size. If the chart called for 32-count linen you could use 16-count aida instead which would give the same design size also.

Linen is probably the most challenging to stitch on as the placement of the stitches are not clearly defined like they are on aida or evenweave fabrics. Find out more about how to cross stitch with Linen.



Evenweave is softer and thinner than aida. It is called evenweave as it has the same number of woven threads from left to right, as it does from top to bottom and it does not have the irregularities that linen fabric has. As with linen you would usually stitch over two threads, which would be the equivalent of one block on aida fabric, this makes it great for fractional and special stitches as you can use the hole in the middle of each square, rather than piercing  one with your needle.  Evenweave and linen give a more attractive ‘background’ to a stitched piece, as aida has a more blocky appearance. Find out more about how to cross stitch with Evenweave fabric.


How to work out how much fabric you need

If you have a chart and you need to work out how much fabric you need, you need to know the stitch count of the chart. This is the number of stitches going from left to right and top to bottom. So if the chart has 100 stitches by 80 stitches then your stitch count is 100 x 80.

To work out the size of the finished design is very easy. All you do is divide the stitch count of the design by the count of the fabric. For example, if the stitch count is 100 x 80 and you are using a 14-count fabric, then you divide both numbers by 14.

100  / 14 = 7.14 (rounded up to 7.5)
80 / 14 = 5.7 (rounded up to 6)
Finished design measurements = 7.5” x 6”

Of course, you’ll then need a piece of fabric that is larger than the design size, to allow you a border for framing or making up. We recommend a minimum of 2″ larger on each side for this. So for our example, a fabric size of 9.5″ x 8″ would be the minimum fabric size. Finally,  remember to start stitching from the centre of the fabric and the centre of the chart, to be sure that your work won’t fall off the edge!

If you’re a cross stitching newbie we have some really great beginners cross stitch kits, with everything you need to get started. Be sure to check out our how to cross stitch guide.

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