When you're new to cross stitch (or even when you've been stitching for some time), choosing fabric and understanding the differences can be challenging! On the one hand, it’s fantastic that there's so much choice to make our pieces truly unique but it can also be a little overwhelming at times. Here's my beginners guide to making sense of cross stitch fabrics…
To start, you have three main fabrics to choose from: aida, evenweave and linen (there are many more but let’s just focus on the most popular for now!)
Generally, aida is the easiest when learning to stitch and is the most popular. It’s made from 100% cotton and comes in various “counts” meaning holes per inch. “14 count aida” means that there are 14 holes/squares per inch of the fabric. Therefore, “16 count aida” means that there are 16 holes/squares per inch and so, the squares or ‘crosses’ you stitch will be smaller.
You can also get 18 count and even higher count aida which I would say is more for the experienced stitchers or those with incredible eyesight! You can get aida in counts as low as 6 which is pretty easy to stitch on as the ‘grid’ is so big!
Next is evenweave fabric which technically can be any fabric that’s woven evenly (the same number of threads per inch in both directions and all the same thickness). With aida, you count squares but with evenweave, you count the number of threads you ‘work over’ (usually 2 – you miss one and go into the next hole). It’s a bit trickier than aida as there isn’t an obvious ‘grid’ to work on. Stitching on 28 count evenweave fabric would give you a finished piece the same size as if it were stitched on 14 count aida (you simply divide by 2).
Finally, there's linen. The main difference between this fabric and evenweave is that linen threads are different thicknesses so the final piece may not end up perfectly even vertically and horizontally. But otherwise, you stitch on linen the same way you would on evenweave. The vintage, natural look of linen works beautifully with brightly coloured threads.
OK, so now you have your fabric, but you need a needle to stitch with! Firstly, make sure it’s a ‘tapestry’ needle meaning it has a blunt end so you won’t pierce the fabric (or your finger!) like you would with a sharp ended sewing needle.
Now, you also have to choose the right size for your fabric as the holes in your fabric are bigger or smaller depending on the ‘count.’ Check out the handy table below. You can always try a few out with your fabric and see which you prefer.
Gold-plated needles are the best (we use DMC 18K gold-plated needles in all of our kits). They slide easily through the fabric and are unlikely to leave marks or rust (as they are resistant to humidity and oils from your hands!)