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A Guide to Cross Stitch Fabrics and Needles

April 18, 2017

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.

A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO 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!

All of our junior stitch kits come with all of the supplies you will need including 8 count aida fabric. This makes it really straightforward to stitch on for complete beginners and/or children from age 6+.

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.

Most of our cross stitch kits come with 3 fabric options, 14 and 16 count aida and one evenweave option if that's more your thing! 

WHICH NEEDLE DO I NEED FOR CROSS STITCH?

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.

cross stitch fabrics and needle sizes modern cross stitch kits

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!)  

WHAT'S A NEEDLE MINDER AND WHY DO I NEED ONE?

Even the most careful of stitchers can sometimes drop projects, travel with them or perhaps a pet interrupts you during a stitching session! Whenever you need to take a break, make a cup of tea or change thread colour, you needle has a safe place to rest. There's nothing more frustrating than dropping a needle and the horror of not knowing where it landed!

You can also grab yourself a magnetic needle minder which comes with a smooth hard enamel top plate and 2 super-strong magnets behind which, when placed either side of your cross stitch fabric, will stay in place and keep your needle safe no matter what! Shop over 22 designs here on our 3 for £22.50 limited offer applied automatically at checkout. 

You can shake that project around and quickly throw it into your bag and have the peace of mind that your needle will still be where you left it!

Happy Stitching!




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