How to cross stitch on linen fabric

How to cross stitch on linen fabric

Linen is a gorgeous fabric for cross stitch. It has a beautiful drape and as a natural fiber is available in lovely colors, both raw and dyed. Linen has a higher thread count than Aida, so it gives a more refined look to your finished piece.

Stitching on linen might seem daunting if you are new to cross stitch, but it is no more difficult than stitching on Aida. There are a few key differences, but they are easy to learn. Read this post and you will be up and stitching on linen in no time.

1. What count linen to use

Like Aida, linen comes in various counts. The count determines how big, or small, your finished stitches will be. Typical linen counts range from 22 at the low end (bigger stitches) to 40 or more at the high end (teeny tiny stitches), with the most common being 28-count and 32-count.

Unlike Aida, linen is most commonly stitched over two threads (more on this below), which means 28-count linen has 14 stitches per inch and is equivalent to 14-count Aida. Similarly, stitching over two on 32-count linen will give you 16 stitches per inch, or the equivalent of 16-count Aida.

When substituting linen for Aida, double the count of the Aida to determine the count of linen to use.

the difference between aida and linen cross stitch fabric

2. Handling linen

Linen has a beautiful drape. It is much softer than Aida and feels wonderful in your hands when stitching. If you are stitching on linen for the first time, using a hoop or frame will make it easier to see the weave. The linen should be pulled taut in the hoop, but make sure not to stretch it so tightly that the weave is distorted.

An alternative to hoops, Q-Snap needlework frames work particularly well for linen.

cross stitch linen in qsnap frame embroidery hoop

3. Starting stitches on linen

Linen is a woven fabric with an over/under pattern of warp and weft threads. When starting a cross stitch piece on linen, it's a good idea to start in the middle of your fabric just like you would on Aida, but with linen you need to be aware of the weave.

After you have found the middle of the fabric, look closely at the weave. You want to start your stitch next to a vertical thread that is passing over the horizontal thread just above your starting point.

How to start cross stitch on linen fabric

A way to remember this is to say your stitch should be "leaning against the post." Doing so will make for neater stitches that lie better on the fabric.

4. Stitching over two threads

Once you found your starting point, it's time to start stitching. Linen is most commonly stitched over two threads, meaning each stitch will pass over two warp and two weft threads. You can get the idea from the stitch diagram below, or see this post on how to cross stitch over two threads for more detailed instructions.

How to cross stitch over two threads on linen

5. Caring for linen

Your finished cross stitch piece can be hand washed gently in cold water and light detergent. See these washing instructions for more on preparing cross stitch for finishing.

linen fabric for cross stitch and embroidery

Looking for linen for your next project? Shop the collection here.

linen fabric for cross stitch and embroidery

how to cross stitch on linen fabric

42 comments

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AJ

AJ

Am just about to embark on my first project on linen. I hemmed strips of fabric and have sewn them on the raw edges of the linen on the sewing machine. You could buy any tape or bias binding. Saves the stickiness of masking tape etc. A great website. Thank you.

Carol Owen

Carol Owen

I’ve per chased a cross stitch kit on 27 count linen, I’ve also seen it in 28 and 30 Why are they not all the same count linen for the same disign

Kayla

Kayla

Do you recommend pre-washing and ironing linen fabric prior to stitching?

Linda Stewart

Linda Stewart

I am working on linen and part of design has lettering. What does it mean when the pattern says “stitch lettering over 1 thread.” The design is over two in each directions. Thank you

Heather Jiva

Heather Jiva

I have a pattern that has a design area of 17″×24″ and uses 32 count linen. How much extra do I need to order to have room to frame? Thanks so much for any help.

Margaret

Margaret

Thank you so much Barb for that, very useful
Regards Margaret.

Joyce

Joyce

In response to Carol, since stitching over 2 threads of 28 ct linen would be equivalent to 14 ct Aida, then any ct of linen 30 or above will progressively give you a smaller finished design.

Barb

Barb

This is for Margaret asking about 2/1 etc..here is a link that explains it pretty good I think
https://lynnscrossstitchtutorials.blogspot.com/2013/01/stitching-2-over-2-threads-on-cross.html

Margaret

Margaret

I’ve just got a 27 count linen cross stitch, it doesn’t say how many strands to use, also on the instructions 2/1 1/6 2/6 never seen this before, would appreciate any help, thanks
Margaret.

Margaret

Margaret

I’ve purchased a 27 count linen cross stitch, my first one, I’m a bit confused, the pattern is saying 2/1 2/6 1/6 2/2,
I cant get to grips with it, no idea what it means, would appreciate any help.

Evelyn

Evelyn

Good morning,
When stitching on 28 ct linen, with a double thread count….should I use two strands of floss or one. I am afraid with only one, the linen will show through the pattern.
Evelyn:)

Jaime fisher

Jaime fisher

I received a beautiful pattern with linen fabric as a gift, this Christmas. Instead of a q-snap needlework frame, could I use a scroll frame to do this project? This will be my first at working with this material. TIA

Ahlam

Ahlam

Hi
Can you help find some tutorials that teach how to make cross stitch table cloths from A to z.

Rebecca Mandabach

Rebecca Mandabach

I have a 32 count chart that 23.63 inches x 15.75 inches finshed size. I would prefer to work this on a 14 count aida. What would be the finished size?

Debbie B.

Debbie B.

This is in response to Katrina Graham. Both calculations are correct for the stitch count on the chart. If you stitch the design over 1 linen thread, the finished size will be 25"w x 18 1/2" h. If you stitch over 2 linen threads, your finished design will be 50" w x 37 1/8" h Because you are skipping every other hole, your design will be twice as big. See step 4 above.

Katrina Graham

Katrina Graham

I have been crossstitching for 20 years on aida fabric. I have a project that calls for 25 ct linen, I love tackling new challenges so based on the pattern I bought linen fabric.
My issue is now that I’m ready to start the project I double-checked the size on a fabric caculator it my purchased fabric is too small. Can any set this panicked stitcher straight?
The project is stitched on Linen 25 count with 625w x 464h sts, it gives a size of 25"w x 18 1/2" h.
On a fabric caculator I got a size of 50" w x 37 1/8" h. Where did I go wrong? Is the pattern right? It really doesn’t specify if it’s over 1 thread or 2 is that the difference then.
Any advice would be great!

Theda

Theda

This is in response to the person who wanted to embroider over signatures on a linen wedding tablecloth. My only related experience is with a pair of my daughter’s jeans on which I wrote lines of Emily Dickinson poetry near the outside seams. I used a running or outline stitch (this stitch is just a straight stitch about 1/8" or a bit longer; next stitch, just like the first, starts snug next to and about halfway down the length of the previous stitch). I don’t know whether I used a thin permanent pen or a Sharpie, but I do recall that the ink faded out after a few washings. She loved them and wore them out, stealing fabric out of my quilt stash to shore up the failing backside of those jeans.

Susan Fitgerald

Susan Fitgerald

@Joanne – Without seeing the pattern, I’m not sure what “linen 10” means. It could be that they are suggesting 10 stitches per inch which would mean using 20 count linen, but I’m not certain. But, the nice thing about cross stitch is you don’t have to use the same fabric that is in the pattern. As long as you know how many stitches tall and wide the pattern is, you can calculate the finished size for the type of fabric you choose. See our post on fabric count for more details: https://stitchedmodern.com/blogs/news/what-does-cross-stitch-fabric-count-mean

Joanne

Joanne

Hi I enjoyed your article, I now need some further understanding. I am looking at a pattern I want to do and it says use linen 10 can you please me to understand what that means. I understand about 28 linen means 14 Aida. But I haven’t got a clue how to work out linen 10 I don’t mind working with linen but have no idea how to figure out linen 10🤷🏽‍♀️🤷🏽‍♀️🤷🏽‍♀️ Hope you can help, it comes from an old book.
Does it mean 10 stitches in an inch.

Susan Fitgerald

Susan Fitgerald

@Dany – I know the feeling when stitches don’t meet up, and it can be so frustrating! If you’re not already doing so, I would recommend using Q-snaps (https://stitchedmodern.com/collections/tools-notions/products/q-snap-needlework-frame) when you stitch. They will help keep the fabric taut and make it easier to see the warp and weft threads when you are counting. Also make sure the lighting where you stitch is really good. You might also try clustering your stitching. So instead of jumping around the pattern, start your next thread next to (or close to) where you left off, even if it means you have to switch colors frequently. The stitching you have already done can serve as a guide to help you stay on track with your counting. Hope some of this helps and best of luck!

Dany

Dany

Hi this was a great article, thank you. I’m working on 28 ct evenweave for the first time and I’m finding that, when trying to stitch a row that meets up with another row (as in the corner of a square, my stitches sometimes end up being one or two threads off. I don’t know why this is happening or how to fix it. Any ideas?

Carol Masiello

Carol Masiello

I want to do a project on linen, but directions are on Aida 14ct, 140h 109w.
Could you tell me what count of linen I would use to make it smaller?

Kathie

Kathie

I have cross stitched for over 40 years but primarily on Aida cloth. Thank you for such clear instructions for stitching on linen.

Lynette

Lynette

Didn t know about starting my first stitch on linen had to be over a particular part of the weave. Thank you and I love stitching on linen.

Carol

Carol

Mary Ann : I have almost finished the Amish farm tryptich. The original instructions call for Lugana (25 ct.). I use 3 strands for the full crosses and follow the instructions for the half crosses and straight stitches. Hope this helps!

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