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Cross Stitch Tips And Tutorials 2


3.Choosing a Cross Stitch or Needlework Fabric

           Choosing a cross stitch, Hardanger, or needlework  fabric  can be a challenging task with the plethora of choices. There are several different categories of cross stitch fabric:  Aida,  Linens, several types of Even Weave, Hardanger, Canvas, Perforated Paper, and specialty fabrics. Each different type of fabric in the categories has a unique texture, feel and sheen.  Fabrics  even smell different depending on what kind of material they are made out of and how they are dyed.  One of my favorite things is smelling and feeling the fabrics as I pull it out of the boxes when I receive supplies.

         Fabric at Julie's X Stitch comes in 3 standard sizes.  A Fat Quarter, Fat Half and Full Yard.  Here is a video tutorial describing how fabric is sized and cut down...


       Materials used to make cross stitch fabrics.  Fabrics are made from 100% cotton, rayon, canvas, polyester, linen, jute, viscose  or a mix of several fibers. The types of material  absorbs the dye differently.  Linen is very absorbent and takes on color well.  Rayon, and polyester fabrics don't absorb dye as well.  If you are not sure what type of fabric you are looking for or you are interested in trying something different for your next project, purchase some of our fabric swatches.  Then you can feel and see the different types of fabric for yourself without having to commit to it for a whole project.

     So many different colors to choose from!    White, antique  white, ecru, ivory, mushroom, cream, black,  and variations of white are the most frequently used, and widely available fabrics for cross stitch and Hardanger.  When choosing a color for a project,  you want to find something that compliments your design colors, but allows the design to show up well. The color of a fabric can vary widely if they are from different companies, or different DYE LOTS.   Keep this in mind when ordering fabric.  If you want to do several projects with the same color of fabric, and they must match exactly, you will want to purchase all of the fabric at one time. Having trouble choose a color?  Try our DMC color chart for help.

    Where does your fabric come from?  Zweigart is our main fabric supplier and they have the largest color selection in the world! We also carry fabric from  Permin of Copenhagen (Scandinavian Art Needlework).  Wichelt/Permin is also one of our fabric suppliers.

     Aida Fabric is one of the most popular and easy to use fabrics for cross stitch. Aida fabric was designer specifically for cross stitch by Zweigart in 1890. Most people learn to cross stitch on Aida fabric.   Aida  is generally made from 100% cotton, and It is frequently referred to as "The Cross Stitch Fabric".  14 count is the most popular count used  with the most color choices, followed by 16, 18  and then 11 count fabric.  Aida fabric consists of small squares that make it easy to count and even to stitch.  It comes in several different counts as large as Herta (6 count) and as  fine as 20 count.  Herta is often used for teaching children or beginners to cross stitch because it is easy to see.  18 and 20 count fabrics are for more experienced cross stitchers that are looking for a finer or more detailed look  to their piece. 

Example Aida 6 Count
Aida 6 Count Sample
Example Aida 8 Count
Aida 8 Count Sample
Example Aida 11 Count
Aida 11 Count Sample
Example Aida 14 Count
Aida 14 Count Sample
Example Aida 16 Count
Aida 16 Count Sample

Example Aida 18 Count
Aida 18 Count Sample

Example Aida 20 Count
Aida 20 Count Sample

      Aida Country French is a  cotton Aida even weave fabric that has a very soft, luxurious texture.  It is great for baby quilts, clothing or washable items.  It drapes nicely and comes in a variety of neutral colors.  It does however fray quite easily, so it is best to surge or tape the edges when working with it. 

 Example Aida 14 Count
Aida Country French 14 Count Sample

     Aida Yorkshire 14 count fabric is made of 96% cotton and 4% polyester.  It is a rustic fabric and a unique alternative to regular Aida.

Aida Yorkshire 14 Count Sample
Aida Yorkshire 14 Count Sample

      Linen  fabric has the appearance of a basket weave.  Linen comes in several differnt counts including 18, 22, 26, 28, 30, 32, 35, and 40 count.  Linen offers a more “old fashioned” look to a piece.  Traditional Linen has a very rustic look to it, especially in the more natural colors like "raw linen". Linen fabric has a very "crisp" feel.  Linens are more challenging to use then Aidas because they require more skill to control the tension of the floss for even stitches.  Linens are great for detailed designs and experienced stitchers.  Linens are almost always stitched over two in the higher counts.  Linens come in several different counts, with 32 and 28 counts being the most prevalent.  When stitched over two, 32 count becomes 16 count (32/2), and 28 count becomes 14 count (28/2).   Nora Corbett has also come up with a gorgeous line of fabrics to go with her more recent patterns.  The colors are very unique and soft.  Currently, they come in 16 count Aida and 32 count Linen.

Example Linen 18 Count
Linen 18 Count Sample
Example Linen 22 Count
Linen 22 Count Sample
Example Linen 26 Count
Linen 26 Count Sample
Example Linen 28 Count
Linen 28 Count Sample
Example Linen 30 Count
Linen 30 Count Sample
Example Linen 32 Count
Linen 32 Count Sample
Example Linen 35 Count
Linen 35 Count Sample
Example Linen 40 Count
Linen 40 Count Sample

     Linen-Hardanger  (even weave)  fabric  is made of 100% linen and comes in 16 count.  It is stitched over one thread and is a course fabric.  The holes are prominent.  It is a unique alternative to Aida fabric.

Linen Hardanger 16 Count Sample
Linen Hardanger 16 Count Sample

    Belfast 32 count Linen comes in a large variety of colors and is normally stitched over two threads.  Belfast is 100% linen and is softer than regular Linen.

Belfast Linen 32 Count Sample
Belfast Linen 32 Count Sample

    Cashel 28 count Linen also comes in a large array of colors and is stitched over two in most cases.  It is 100% linen and less stiff than regular Linen fabric.

Cashel Linen 28 Count Sample
Cashel Linen 28 Count Sample

    Betsy Ross 10 count Linen is 100% linen and comes in a small range of nice colors.  Betsy Ross Linen is stitched over one, like an Aida.  The holes in Betsy Ross Linen are prominent.  It is ideal for the ''tired eye" projects as well as any designs of your choice.

Betsy Ross Linen 10 Count Sample
Betsy Ross Linen 10 Count Sample

    Cork 18 count Linen comes in a few neutral colors.  It is stitched over one like an Aida and is made of 100% linen.

Cork Linen 18 Count Sample
Cork Linen 18 Count Sample

     Country French 28 count Linen is very soft and made of 100% linen.  It comes in a few neutral colors and is stitched over two threads.

Country French Linen 28 Count Sample
Country French Linen 28 Count Sample

    Dublin 25 count Linen comes in a few neutral colors and is made of 100% linen.  It can be stitched over one or over two.

Dublin Linen 25 Count Sample
Dublin Linen 25 Count Sample

     Edinburgh 36 count Linen comes in a few neutral colors.  It is made of 100% linen.

Edinburg Linen 36 Count Sample
Edinburg Linen 36 Count Sample

     Silk 28 count Linen is made of 80% Linen and 20% Silk.     

Silk Linen 28 Count Sample
Silk Linen 28 Count Sample


        Even Weaves or Plain Weaves, are  normally made of  cotton and some other material blended with it. Even weave means the warp and weft thread count is the same, thus making  it square. There are several different types of even weave fabric:

     Davos 18 count fabric is made of 100% cotton twist yarn and it is great for all types of stitching.  It's a relatively heavy fabric and is ideal for clothing, pillows and other items and gives a soft supple look.  It comes in a small range of neutral colors.

Davos 18 Count Sample
Davos 18 Count Sample

   Fiddlers Cloth is made of 50% cotton, 42% polyester, and 8% silk.  Fiddlers cloth comes in 18 and 14 count and is a lot like Aida fabric.  It is an inexpensive fabric and has a very rustic look to it.

Fiddlers Cloth 14 Count Sample
Fiddlers Cloth 14 Count Sample

Fiddlers Cloth 18 Count Sample
  Fiddlers Cloth 18 Count Sample

     Floba 18 and 25 count fabric is made of 30% linen and 70% rayon.  It is a nice, heavy fabric and drapes well.  Floba comes in natural oatmeal.

Floba 18 Count Sample
       Floba 18 Count Sample    

Floba 25 Count Sample
Floba 25 Count Sample

     Hardanger is  made of 100% cotton and it is 22 count.  Hardanger is also a method of embroidery and Hardanger fabric was designed specifically for it.  Hardanger embroidery was originally worked on 50 count Linen fabric and linen was quite expensive.  Cotton Hardanger fabric is inexpensive and was a good solution for stitchers who enjoy Hardanger.   Hardanger as we know it today originated in the Hardanger region of Norway several hundred years ago.  Eventually, Norwegian immigrants brought it to the Untied States   Hardanger fabric is generally imported from European cities.  It is typically used for Hardanger embroidery, but can be used by cross stitchers looking for delicate detail for projects like ornaments and doilies.  There are several Hardanger patterns and kits available.   You can even make clothing out of Hardanger fabric. It is a lovely way to make a christening dress for a baby,  and makes a wonderful heirloom. For more information about Hardanger, please read our Hardanger tips section. 

Hardanger 22 Count Example
Hardanger 22 Count Sample

     Jazlyn 28 count fabric is made of 52% cotton and 48% rayon.  It is similar to Jobelan fabric, and comes in several soft colors.

Jazlyn 28 Count Sample
Jazlyn 28 Count Sample

     Jobelan is popular because of it's elegant, soft, smooth sheen and large variety of colors, including hand dyed fabrics.  Jobelan comes in 20, 25, 28 and 32 count and is made of 51% Cotton, 49% Rayon/Modal.  Jobelan drapes nicely and is a pleasure to work with.  It is resistant to wrinkles.

Example Jobelan 20 Count
Jobelan 20 Count Sample
Jobelan 25 Count Sample
Jobelan 25 Count Sample
Example Jobelan 28 Count
Jobelan 28 Count Sample
Jobelan 32 Count Sample
Jobelan 32 Count Sample

    Jute fabric comes in 4 and 12 count and is made of 100% Jute.  The fabric has a rough texture and is used to make burlap sacks.  Jute is a shinny vegetable fiber and is long and soft and can be spun into coarse, strong threads to make fabric.

Jute 4 Count Sample
      Jute 4 Count Sample        

Jute 12 Count Sample
Jute 12 Count Sample

    Linda 27 count  fabric is 100% cotton and is inexpensive.  It is used as the even weave fabric in many of the Lanarte kits.

Linda 27 Count Sample
Linda 27 Count Sample

    Lugana is also a heavy fabric that is very versatile and similar to a Jobelan.  Lugana comes in many colors and it is a blend of 52% cotton and 48% Viscose.  Did you know that Lugana used to be called Brittney fabric?  Lugana is a soft, heavy, even weave fabric that is easy to count and great for cross stitch.  It comes in many colors and a few different counts like 25, 28 and 32 counts with the most color choices in 25 count.   Lugana is an elegant fabric for table linens, samplers, pillows, and other decorative accessories.  Lugana is also a great choice for Hardanger projects.

Lugana 25 Count Sample
Lugana 25 Count Sample
Lugana 28 Count Sample
Lugana 28 Count Sample
Lugana 32 Count Sample
Lugana 32 Count Sample

     Lugana Metallic comes in 20 and 28 count, and is made of 51% cotton, 44% rayon and 5% metallic.  There is either a gold of silver metallic thread woven throughout the fabric to give it sparkle.  It is a beautiful fabric and a nice way to change your project.

Lugana Metallic 20 Count Sample
      Lugana Metallic 20 Count Sample        

Lugana Metallic 28 Count Sample
 Lugana Metallic 28 Count Sample

   Quaker cloth 28 count fabric is made of 55% linen and 45% cotton.  It is an inexpensive fabric.

Quaker 28 Count Sample
Quaker 28 Count Sample

    Tula 10 count fabric is made of 60% rayon and 40% cotton.  The holes in Tula fabric are prominent.  It is a soft, unique fabric.  It's comes in some lovely colors.

Tula 10 Count Sample
Tula 10 Count Sample

    Hand Dyed Fabrics have a very unique look.  They come in LinensEven Weaves, Aida and other traditional fabrics.  They are perfect for an interesting or unusual background.    Hand dyed opalescent fabrics are an incredible touch to any project.  Opalescent fabrics have a shinny thread weaved through out the fabric to give it sparkle.  They are excellent used as a twilight back ground with shimmering  stars, or as water in the ocean.  Most of our hand dyed fabrics are supplied by  Picture this Plus.  The fabrics are washable, soft in texture, and colorfast.  Picture This Plus uses Zweigart fabric for their hand dyed fabrics.  Types of fabric take on dye differently.  A linen is very porous, thus it soaks up dye well, where as a Lugana is a smoother fabric and does not soak up dye as easily.  If you are looking for a dark color, it is  best to go with the Linen fabrics in the hand dyed section.  If you are looking for a more subtle effect, fabrics like Lugana, Aida, etc. are a good choice.  The hand dyed fabrics are all very unique.  No two are exactly alike.   Hand dyed fabrics come in a plethora of colors and are a special order.   You will have a one of a kind project to show off to  your friends.  Hand dyed fabrics make your project come alive. 

Example Hand Dyed Fabric
Hand Dyed - Cashel French Lilac

Example Opalescent Hand Dyed Fabric
Hand Dyed - Opalescent Example

       Perforated Paper was used by those that could not afford Linen in the Victorian era.   During the Victorian era, most perforated paper projects consisted of bookmarks or bible verses made into samplers that were hung on the wall.   It is still used today for the same purposes.   It comes in a  variety of solid and marbled colors and is generally 14 count. Perforated paper is often used to make ornaments and bookmarks.

Example Perforated Paper
Perforated Paper - Hand Painted 14 Count

          Afghan fabrics.  Afghan fabric is often referred to as patterned fabric. There are several different types of afghan fabric to choose from.  They come in different counts and different styles.  Some have a large center for a center theme to the afghan.  Others are in patterns of squares.    There are many cross stitch patterns to choose from that are designed for afghans.  There are also some great baby afghans by companies like Charles Craft and Zweigart like theBaby Alphabet Afghan by Charles Craft.

Gloria, 14 count Afghan fabric

      Canvas fabrics are used for cross stitch, needlepoint, Hardanger and more.  There are several kinds of canvas.  Some are stiffer than others.  They come in several counts.  Here are several different types of canvas:

    Canvas Deluxe Mono 18 count fabric is made of 100% cotton.  It comes in some basic colors as well as a few brighter colors. 

Example Canvas Deluxe Mono
Canvas Deluxe Mono, 18 count sample

    Canvas Interlock in 10, 12, 13, 14 and 18 counts, 100% cotton,  is used for needlepoint or cross stitch.  It cannot be used for petit point since it has one thread running up and down that cannot be split apart.  It is not as subject to distortion as waste canvas or Penelope.

Canvas Interlock 10 Count Sample
Canvas Interlock 10 Count Sample
Canvas Interlock 12 Count Sample
Canvas Interlock 12 Count Sample
Canvas Interlock 13 Count Sample
Canvas Interlock 13 Count Sample

Canvas Interlock 14 Count Sample
Canvas Interlock 14 Count Sample    

Canvas Interlock 18 Count Sample
Canvas Interlock 18 Count Sample

    Canvas Penelope 10/20 count fabric, 100% cotton, also called double mesh or duo canvas because it has two threads running vertically and horizontally.  It can be used for petit point or gross point needlepoint.

Canvas Penelope 10/20 count sample
Canvas Penelope 10/20 count sample

    Canvas Petit Point Mono 22 count, 100% cotton fabric.  Perfect for petit point needlepoint projects.

Canvas Petit Point Mono 22 count sample
Canvas Petit Point Mono 22 count sample

    Congress Cloth 24 count, 100% cotton is a combination of a fabric and and canvas.   It is perfect for Hardanger, petit point needlepoint and cross stitch.  It is softer than canvas. It comes in neutral colors and with metallic threads mixed in to some colors as well.

Congress Cloth 24 count sample
Congress Cloth 24 count sample

     Waste Canvas is used to stitch your design on fabrics that are not cross stitch friendly, like denim or T-shit cotton fabric,  table cloths and napkins.  Waste canvas comes in several different counts from 6.5 to 20 count.  Waste canvas is usually marked with a grid in blue that breaks the canvas down into 10 count squares (just like a pattern)  that makes it easy to count and to position your design in the center.  Some people choose to use some fabric on the inside of the material they are stitching on to give added support to their stitches.  This is called interfacing.  Using a 6 stranded floss, you will generally stitch with two strands of floss.  However, this is something that is left up to you to decide.  If you are concerned that the floss colors will run, than you can soak each color of floss in water to remove any excess dye before stitching.   To begin your design, be sure to center the waste canvas on your shirt, blue jeans, etc.  You can baste or pin your waste canvas and interfacing to your project.    Be sure to secure your floss firmly so it doesn't come undone when you wash your garment.  Once you have stitched your design to your garment and you are finished, wet your waste canvas and gently pull it out from under your design so that all that is left is the design you have stitched on the garment.  It is best to wash your garment turned inside out.  Make sure the edges of your interfacing are trimmed close to the design so as not to be caught during the washing process and pulled off. 

Waste Canvas 6.5 Count Sample
Waste Canvas 6.5 Count Sample
Waste Canvas 8.5 Count Sample
Waste Canvas 8.5 Count Sample
Waste Canvas 11 Count Sample
Waste Canvas 11 Count Sample
Waste Canvas 12 Count Sample
Waste Canvas 12 Count Sample
Waste Canvas 13 Count Sample
Waste Canvas 13 Count Sample
Waste Canvas 14 Count Sample
Waste Canvas 14 Count Sample
Waste Canvas 16 Count Sample
Waste Canvas 16 Count Sample
Waste Canvas 18 Count Sample
Waste Canvas 18 Count Sample

     Monks Cloth.  Monks cloth is similar to a Herta or 6 to 8 count Aida.  It is softer and more pliable.  Monks cloth is 100% cotton and it is 7 count.  That means 7 stitches per inch of fabric.  However, you must prepare Monks cloth BEFORE you stitch on it.  First, you serge the edges of the fabric with a zig zag stitch on your sewing machine to keep the edges from fraying.  Then it must be washed in a gentle warm water cycle in you washing machine.   Dry it in the dryer and it is ready to go.  The fabric will shrink quite a bit in this process.   Monks cloth is also preferred for Swedish Weaving.

Monks Cloth 7ct Count Sample
Monks Cloth 7ct Count Sample


4.Organize your Cross Stitch Materials

            Begin by measuring your fabric to the appropriate size.  You must first figure out the stitch count of your design horizontally and vertically.  Most patterns will supply this information in the directions.  For example, if your stitch count on your pattern is 140 (vertical) X 112 (horizontal) you would divide each of these number by the count of the fabric you have chosen.   Let’s assume you have chosen a 14 count Aida cloth (which means there are 14 stitches or squares per inch).  You would divide each stitch count by 14.  Don’t forget to add another 4 to 6 inches to each measurement for framing. 


                   140/14 = 10 inches + 6 inches (for framing) =16 inches                  

                   112/14 =  8 inches + 6 inches (for framing) =14 inches 

(you would cut your material 16 inches vertically and 14 inches horizontally) 

          When using a linen or Jobelan or any fabric with an even stitch count of 25 or above you will generally be stitching over two threads.  For example, if your linen has a count of 32, you will cut that in half for your calculations (32/2).  So, a 32 count fabric would become a 16 count fabric when stitched over two threads. (32/2=16)

         Cuts of fabric.  There are a few different cuts of fabric.  We follow the same guide lines for cutting fabric as quilters do.  These are all cuts of a full yard of fabric.    The smallest size being a fat quarter, the next size up is a fat half and then the full yard.  , If you were to take a yard of fabric and lay it out flat and cut it into 4 equal parts vertically and horizontally, one of the four pieces would be considered a fat quarter.  A fat half is that same fabric cut horizontally right down the middle to make two halves.  Of course, a full yard is the whole piece of fabric.  Most patterns will fit onto a fat quarter of fabric.   Some patterns, like Lavender and Lace Angels require a little more fabric.  A fat half is more appropriate to allow ample room for a matt and framing.


          Be sure to double check your math before cutting.  Once you’ve cut it, it’s too late.  There is no taping it back together.   It is also smart to make sure you have the correct fabric and the correct count of fabric.  A cross stitch gauge  is a great way to check what count your fabric is.  Measure one inch of fabric and count the number of stitches you can stitch in that area.  That will tell you what count fabric you are working with.  If you count 14 stitches in an inch, than the fabric you are working on is a 14 count fabric. 

          Next, use masking tape to tape the edges of your material to prevent fraying.  You can also serge the edges of your fabric with a sewing machine.  There are also products on the market that can be applied to the edges of your fabric to stop fraying like Fray Stop. Follow the directions on the bottle.

          Then, organize all of your floss colors in one floss container in numerical order for easy access.  Keep any other material you will need to complete your project in the container as well, like beads and specialty threads, extra needles, etc.  Be sure to check how many skeins of each color you will need so you don’t run out.  This information should be provided in the directions or in the color chart.  I like to keep my floss on  reusableplastic  bobbins with a number tag.  Some people like to use small bags to hold their floss called Floss Away.

      There are many great craft bags designed for easy of storage of your cross stitch supplies.  There are some old fashioned ones like this free standing Knit and Crochet bag that I love.  Always a favorite accessory as this stand remains handy by your chair or can pick-up  and go when you do. Assorted prints will vary. 14¼” high, 14¼” across, and 8¾” wide when open. Folds to 16” long and 2” deep. Natural tone wood handles and legs. Lined with one vinyl pocket. Just like Grandma used to have.  Another of my favorites is this Arm Chair Needlework Organizer.  Blue fabric Description: Rests on arm chair or sofa. Deep pockets to store supplies. Removable pin cushion. Button to hold loose thread. Snap loop to hold scissors Size: 12.25" w x 20" h

Arm Chair Needlework Organizer

       Several manufacturer suggest washing your fabric and floss before stitching to avoid having any of the colors run.  I am not overly fond of this idea.  There is a product that can be used for this process should you choose to do so.  It is called Fabri-Care.  Read and follow the directions on the bottle carefully. 


5.Ready to Cross Stitch

          Now you are ready to start stitching!  Make sure you have clean hands that are free of lotion or oil.  Look for the center of your fabric by folding it in half sideways and then again lengthwise.  Mark the center with a small pencil mark.  Look for the center of your cross stitch pattern (generally marked by arrows) and count up from the center of the pattern to the top of the design for an efficient starting point and another way to check that you have cut your fabric to the correct size before you stitch for weeks and find out you miscalculated.  Each grid on the pattern is 10 stitches for easy counting. 

        I prefer to start my cross stitch projects at the top of the fabric and work my way down.  Some people like to start their cross stitch in the middle, which can be easily located on the pattern because it is marked.  Did you know that you can even start your cross stitch by turning your pattern upside down (180 degrees) and stitching your pattern from the bottom.  Try it.  Make a cross stitch on your fabric and then turn it upside down and look at it.  It looks exactly the same as it does right side up.

          Most patterns call for 2 strands of floss for most cross stitches.  For a softer effect, one strand is used.  One strand floss is normally used for outlining with back stitches or fabric with a very high stitch count like 22 count Lugana or Hardanger.  When using a 22 count, it is generally stitched with one strand of floss.

          For shading on a piece, blends or tweeding is often used.  This is the use of two or more colors of thread at a time.  You can also use one strand of floss and one strand of a metallic blending filament for a shine to your work.  You must stitch carefully when using blending filaments because they can break easily.

          Use even tension when making stitches.  Do not pull the thread too tight so as to distort the fabric and make the stitches uneven.  Work from left to right and right to left when making rows of cross stitches.

          Hold the hoop with your left hand and stitch with your right.  I usually put the hoop on my fabric with the screw off to the left side towards the top.  That way I don't catch my floss on the screw when I am sewing and it doesn't get in the way.   Some people prefer to stitch without a hoop.  Especially stitchers who use Linen rather than Aida.  Linen can get distorted in a hoop where as Aida is a stronger fabric that doesn't distort easily.