How to pick fabric for cross stitch - Linen, evenweave, or Aida

How to pick fabric for cross stitch - Linen, evenweave, or Aida

Choosing fabric for a cross stitch project can seem overwhelming. There are several different types of fabric suitable for cross stitch, and each has its own unique texture, feel, fiber content, and range of colors. In this post we will take a look at the pros and cons of main types of fabric - Aida, linen, and evenweave - so you can choose with confidence.

How to choose fabric for cross stitch - Aida, Evenweave, Linen

Aida cross stitch fabric

Aida fabric is one of the most widely used cross stitch fabrics. Made from 100% cotton, Aida is a particularly good choice for beginners because the wide, open weave makes the holes easy to see.

How to choose fabric for cross stitch - Aida, Evenweave, Linen

Aida was created specifically for cross stitch in the late 1800's or early 1900's by the Zweigart company in Germany. Zweigart remains one of the largest manufacturers of Aida today. Other makers include Wichelt (Permin) and Charles Craft. There are also a number of small indie makers who are hand dying Aida (as well as linen).

Aida comes in different fabric counts. A fabric's count is the number of holes per inch, which in turn determines the number of stitches per inch. (For more see What does fabric count mean in cross stitch?) Aida in 14 count is easy to find and is a good choice for stitchers who are just starting out. Other common counts are 11, 16, 18, and 20.

Aida also comes in a 6-count version called Herta that is perfect for teaching children to stitch or for chunky “big stitch” projects.

How to choose fabric for cross stitch - Aida, Evenweave, Linen

Fiddler's Cloth is similar to Aida in its weave, but is made of 50% cotton, 42% polyester, and 8% silk. It comes in 14, 16, and 18 counts and is popular for its rustic oatmeal coloring.

How to choose fabric for cross stitch - Aida, Evenweave, Linen

Aida is typically stitched over one and can be stitched with or without a hoop. It comes in a range of colors, including hand dyed and novelty printed styles. Aida is starched, so it is fairly stiff. Wichelt makes a version of 100% cotton Aida called Country French that has a softer feel. It's a good choice if you don't like the stiffness of regular Aida.

How to choose fabric for cross stitch - Aida, Evenweave, Linen

As for how to pronounce Aida, that's a long-running debate. Most pronounce it AY-da, but some say I-EE-da like the Verdi opera. Either works!

PROS: Readily available and comes in lots of colors and counts. Easy to stitch, so it's perfect for beginners and novice stitchers.

CONS: Because of its large, open weave, Aida has a coarser finish than linen or evenweave (but it's a look that lots of people love). It's not a great choice for more advanced patterns that use fractional stitches like 1/4 or 3/4 stitches.

(Shop our full selection of Aida here)

Evenweave cross stitch fabric

There was a time when evenweave referred to fabric that had the same number of warp and weft stitches per inch. This is desirable for cross stitch because an even weave means even (i.e., square) holes for stitching.

Today, almost all cross stitch fabric has an even weave, and the term evenweave has come to refer to the uniform, or even, fibers that make up the fabric. It means the fibers all have the same width so you don't have to deal with slubs or other inconsistencies.

How to choose fabric for cross stitch - Aida, Evenweave, Linen

Evenweave has a higher thread count than Aida, and is commonly found in 25, 28, and 32 counts. Like linen, evenweave is generally stitched over two, although also like linen it can be stitched over one.

Evenweave fabrics are typically cotton/rayon blends. Zweigart produces a 52% cotton/48% rayon evenweave called Lugana, while Wichelt makes a 51% cotton/49% rayon version called Jobelan.

PROS: With its consistent texture, evenweave is a great fabric to use when learning to stitching over two. Good for advanced patterns with fractional stitches.

CONS: More refined in appearance than Aida, but still less so than linen. Some evenweave fabric can be stiff. Not quite as widely available as linen or Aida.

(Shop our full selection of evenweave here)

Linen cross stitch fabric

Linen is the choice of many experienced cross stitchers for its soft hand and higher thread count. Linen is a natural cloth woven from flax fibers. Typically it is more expensive than cotton fabric like Aida.

How to choose fabric for cross stitch - Aida, Evenweave, Linen

Linen can have natural irregularities like slubs and threads that vary in thickness throughout the weave of the fabric. Those irregularities can make linen more challenging to stitch on, but they also give the fabric character and offer a more traditional-looking finish.

How to choose fabric for cross stitch - Aida, Evenweave, Linen

The weave of various types of linen also varies. Some is woven with thicker fibers so it feels more dense. Others are more loosely woven with larger gaps between the fibers.

Linen is typically stitched over two and is available in a wide range of thread counts, with the most common being 28 and 32 count. Thread counts can go as high as 40 and even 50! There is also a large color range to choose from, including hand dyed and novelty prints. Linen can be stitched with or without a hoop.

How to choose fabric for cross stitch - Aida, Evenweave, Linen

Zweigart and Wichelt are the two largest linen manufacturers. Cashel linen is Zweigart's name for its 28-count 100% linen fabric, while Belfast linen refers to its 32-count version. Zweigart's linen generally has a softer drape than the linen produced by Wichelt.

PROS: Widely available in a range of counts and colors. Feels good in the hand. Has a durable and elegant finish. Good for advanced patterns with fractional stitches.

CONS: Inconsistencies in the fabric can make linen harder to stitch on.

(Shop our full selection of evenweave here)

Yardage, banding, and prefinished options

Aida, evenweave, and linen are typically sold in fractions of a yard, most commonly as fat eighths, fat quarters, and fat yards. You can also find Aida and linen fashioned into pre-finished items like tablecloths, towels, bibs, baby booties, and more. These items generally come with a panel of either Aida or linen inset into a larger finished piece.

How to choose fabric for cross stitch - Aida, Evenweave, Linen

Another option is stitching band, with is a narrow strip of Aida or linen with finished edges. Available in different widths and colors, stitching band can be used for bookmarks, pillow or apron trim, and a number of other household projects.

How to choose fabric for cross stitch - Aida, Evenweave, Linen

Looking for fabric for your next project? Be sure to check out our full selection of Aida, evenweave, and linen.

How to choose fabric for cross stitch - Aida, Evenweave, Linen

11 comments

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Susan Fitgerald

Susan Fitgerald

Hi Bette! Cross stitch is almost always done on even weave fabric so the stitches are evenly square in shape. I wouldn’t try stitching anything pictoral on the fabric you have, but you could try playing around with a fun geometric or abstract pattern. It might produce an interesting (and unexpected) result!

Bette Augustine

Bette Augustine

Found a fabric in my stash and realized it was an uneven count – 28 by 20. My motif will be either elongated or wider when stitched. Should I forget the fabric and move on to something else? I’ve never seen this before in cross stitch fabric. Love your on-line work which benefits us all. Thanks! Bette

Shirley

Shirley

Thank you so much for this concise explanation of the different cross stitch fabrics! I have always stitched on aida and only just recently ventured into evenweave; I immediately liked the softness of the fabric in my hand. Wanting to purchase more of these softer fabrics, my head was spinning with all the different types and brands .. your simple-to-understand descriptions have cleared the cobwebs. Thank you!!

lydie

lydie

I have one small comment:
I liked the 25, 28 and 32 counts in the explanation
also considering how many threads per cm. if that is possible.
It is very useful. and I will save the mai
Best regards
lydie

Lori

Lori

I’ve stitched for about 4 decades bury what curious what the article would have to say. Brilliant! Very well written and easy to understand. I liked how you explained the differences in linen between Zweigart & Wichelt. Very interesting. The article is exactly how I started out, 14 ct for many years and then onward until I’ve reached the 36 and someyimes 40. Very much enjoyed it. Thank you

Denise Corley

Denise Corley

This was a great article….thanks so much. I am so glad I found you as I love the way you display your fabrics. Sometimes it is so difficult to buy fabric online as its hard to be assured of the color or feel. Thanks again.

Shirlene

Shirlene

Such good information. This blog is the only place I have found detailed information about the different types of fabrics for cross-stitch. As a beginner this has helped me stay with my project and not abandon it.

Denise Baitx

Denise Baitx

Do you have any patterns for Herta cloth projects?

Alice Sheridan

Alice Sheridan

Pronunciation … When two vowels go walking, the first one does all the talking, and pronounces its name. Hence … A da.

Peg

Peg

Thank you. The information is useful.

Allison Goodyear

Allison Goodyear

Thanks. This blog is helpful for a beginner like me.

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