All woven fabric created on a loom technically has a right side and a wrong side. With printed fabric like quilting cotton, it's generally pretty easy to tell the difference between the right side and the wrong side because any pattern is printed only on the front.
Not so with Aida and linen used for cross stitch. It generally looks the same on both sides. So how do you know what's the front and what's the back and does it even matter?
The short answer
The short answer is, no. When it comes to Aida and linen, in most cases the front and back are essentially the same. That's because the fiber used to make Aida and linen (cotton and linen, respectively) is dyed before being woven so the color runs throughout the fabric.
So, in most cases you don't have to worry about front and back. Of course, there are a few things to be aware of about your fabric before you start stitching, so read on.
A few caveats
One note when working with linen. Because linen has natural irregularities like slubs, it's a good idea to inspect your fabric before you start stitching and decide which side you like better.
Likewise, fabric that has been hand dyed after being woven may have color variations on each side, so take a look and see which side you prefer before starting.
Finally, some cross stitch fabric, like this cobweb Aida, is printed after being woven and has a clear right and wrong side.
But I really want to know which side is the right side!
While it doesn't matter in terms of your stitching, if you really want to know which side is the right side and which is the wrong side of a piece of Aida or linen, the selvedge holds the answer.
The selvedge is the tightly woven edge that runs along the length of the fabric. If you look closely, you will see small pinholes in the selvedge. Run your finger along them, and you may be able to feel that the holes are smooth on one side and pokey on the other. The smooth side is the front of the fabric.
This little trick works for all kinds of fabric, not just cross stitch fabric, so now you know! Looking for fabric for your next project? Check out our full selection of Aida, linen, and more in the shop!