What does fabric count mean in cross stitch?

What does fabric count mean in cross stitch?

If you have spent any time looking at cross stitch patterns and kits, you have no doubt run across the phrase fabric count, as in "stitched on 14 count fabric." But what does 14-count mean when it comes to cross stitch?

In short, count is the number of holes per inch in a piece of fabric. How does count impact your cross stitch? Read on to find out.

What is fabric count?

Cross stitch fabric like Aida and linen are woven with the same number of threads in each direction to create evenly sized squares. Appropriately called evenweave fabrics, they are perfect for cross stitch because they produce evenly-sized stitches.

The number of squares per inch determines the count of the fabric. For example, 14-count Aida has 14 squares per inch, which means stitching on it will give you 14 stitches per inch. Squares per inch and stitches per inch are interchangeable in this example.

Cross stitch fabric count diagram

Similarly, 16-count Aida has 16 squares or stitches per inch and 18-count Aida has 18 squares or stitches per inch. The higher the count, the more stitches per inch.

Why does fabric count matter?

The count of the fabric determines the final size of your piece. For example if you are stitching a motif that is 42 stitches high by 42 stitches wide on 14-count fabric, the finished design will be 3 inches square (42 stitches / 14 stitches per inch = 3 inches). On 16-count fabric the piece will be 2.6 inches square, and on 18-count fabric it will be 2.3 inches square. 

The higher the fabric count, the smaller the finished design will be, and the lower the fabric count, the larger it will be.

Take a look at the picture below. The same apple motif was stitched on three different fabric counts, with very different results. The largest apple was stitched on 6-count fabric (6 stitches per inch), the medium on 11-count fabric (11 stitches per inch), and the smallest on 16-count fabric (16 stitches per inch).

Cross stitch on different fabric counts

Fabric count also determines the size needle you use. With lower count fabrics you should use a bigger needle, and with higher count fabrics a smaller one. Check out our post on which size needle to use for cross stitch for more information.

What about linen?

Linen works the same way as Aida, but the fabric counts are higher, typically anywhere from 22 stitches per inch to 40 stitches per inch. The difference is that linen is typically stitched over 2. That means, for example, 28-count linen will have 14 stitches per inch when stitched over 2.

More on stitching on linen in a future post, but in general you can substitute 28-count linen for 14-count Aida, and vice versa, without changing the size of the final design. Similarly, you can swap out 32-count linen for 16-count Aida.

Aida and linen fabric count cross stitch

How to determine fabric count

If you are anything like me, you have a bin full of random scraps of cross stitch fabric with no labels or anything to indicate the fabric count. Fortunately, it's easy to figure out.

Place a pin horizontally in your fabric. Using a ruler to measure, insert a second pin one inch from the first. Now just count the number of squares between the pins to determine the fabric count.

how to measure fabric count cross stitch

26 comments

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Kristen Crouthamel

Kristen Crouthamel

I am cross stitching a photo of my sister and my dad. To get the most detail would you suggest 16 or 18 count Aida? I think I usually use 14. I did one several years ago and I used 14 and it turned out okay but it was a large project.

Amanda Kenny

Amanda Kenny

@bex You can increase the number of strands of thread in order to increase coverage. So if you want the pattern to stay the same size, try using 3 or 4 strands instead.

bex

bex

just done a pattern on 14 ct with 2 threads and i wasn’t happy with the coverage if i use 16 or 18ct the pattern will be smaller but will the coverage be better?

Martha Stokesberry

Martha Stokesberry

I have a lot of 28 count linen but my patterns for Santas all call for 18 count Davis or linen. Is there a way to use what I have or not? Thanks for the help.

Anne

Anne

If I use 11 count instead of 14 how much bigger will the project be, and will it be as nice as if it was on 14?

Ellen

Ellen

I am so grateful that I came accross your site. I have taken up counted cross stitch again after 30 years. I hope to have more patience and appreciation for the craft this time. I will be sure to contact you again -you are so helpful and non judgemental.

Thanks so much,
ellen

June

June

Hello,

I have a pattern that calls for 28 Linda, what would the Aida cloth equivalent be?

Chris hall

Chris hall

I have a bunch of 6 count aida that’s already pre cut to 6 inch squares, is there anywhere I can find some patternt to practice with?

Bobbi

Bobbi

Hi, I have a pattern that it states is done on 18 Aida but it also states the sizes for 16, 14, 12 and 10. My vision isn’t the best but I desperately want to do this pattern for sentimental reasons.
Does this mean that I could do the pattern in 10 Aida without the actual pattern distorting?

Thanks so much

Maria

Maria

If I use 11 count instead of 14 will it make my project bigger

Kris

Kris

@Amy
If the scale is 290 stitches by 190 stitches, and your fabric is 14 stitches per inch, some math will get us there.
290 stitches ÷ 14 stitches/in = 20.71 in (call it 22)
190 stitches ÷ 14 stitches/in = 13.57 in (call it 14)
So your project is going to be 22 in x 14 in. Personally, I’d add at least 2 inches around each edge for finishing. So we get:
22 inches long + 2 inches top + 2 inches bottom = 26 inches.
14 inches wide + 2 inches left + 2 inches right = 18 inches.
26 in x 18 in is your fabric size. If you need more space around the edge for framing or just personal security, you can adjust as needed.

Amy Weir

Amy Weir

I bought a pattern on ETSY and I don’t know where to start.. the scale on the papers go from 290 × 190 if my fabric count is 14, what size Aida cloth should I get??

Sharon Sego

Sharon Sego

It calls for 20 count but would like to use 14 count. How much of a difference it would be and the stitch over stitch

Joneide

Joneide

I bought a pattern with the details bellow:
-Design size: 7.67 × 7.33 inches or 19.47 × 18.63 cm on 18 count Aida

I want to cross stitch a pillow cover and I found one at Amazon ready to be used (needs only the picture in cross stitch). But the cover is 11 count Aida.

I’m confusing about the size. Do you think that based in this information you can help me to find out the size of the final project?

Susan Fitgerald

Susan Fitgerald

@Debbie,
If you are stitching over two threads, you would have 12 stitches per inch on the 24-count fabric, and 16 stitches per inch on the 28-count fabric. That means the pattern will render larger on the 24-count fabric and small on the 28-count. Hope this helps!

Debbie

Debbie

Im new at cross stitch.i used 24 count if i use 28 count will picture be larger.

Susan

Susan

Hi Ann – If you want to stitch it on 14-count Aida, the finished size will be 3.9 inches (=55 stitches/14) by 4 inches (=56 stitches/14). Hope this helps!

Ann

Ann

Got a chart but say it’s done on 16HPI aida max stitch count 55×56
Design area (31/2×31/2in) or (9×9cm)

But I want to do it 14 count aida but for life of me I can’t work it out. I’ve epilepsy so find maths very hard to do. Could u please work it out for me. It’s a cross stitch designs to make a birthday for a friend. But at this rate I’ll not get it done. Hope u can help me?
Thank you
Ann

barbara

barbara

I boughta pattern of a house I thpught was 14 count. I asked if I could transfer to aida 14 count he said no it would be too big enormouos. Ot think its 28 ct. I am so disappointed. Sos nothing but hell with cross stitch. One thing I did was a KOY IT WAS STOLEN THAT is how great it was. Stolen by ex ’s grand daughter 14 years ago and I have tried on vaon to find the pattern from westerly rhode island. A GEM..

barbara

barbara

I boughta pattern of a house I thpught was 14 count. I asked if I could transfer to aida 14 count he said no it would be too big enormouos. Ot think its 28 ct. I am so disappointed. Sos nothing but hell with cross stitch. One thing I did was a KOY IT WAS STOLEN THAT is how great it was. Stolen by ex ’s grand daughter 14 years ago and I have tried on vaon to find the pattern from westerly rhode island. A GEM..

Mia

Mia

Thank you very much! I am confused about the directions that go with the picture included under How to Determine Fabric Count. I enlarged the picture so I could see closer up. If I count each space (hole), I have to include where the pins are inserted to come out with 14. If I count only the spaces inbetween (as in instructions) I get 12. Should I count the spaces only inbetween the pins, or should I include the pins? Otherwise, if I count the fabric ‘squares’ between the two pins, I come out with 13. I think I need some help! What am I doing wrong?

ANGELA DAVIS

ANGELA DAVIS

Hi Susan, thanks for this information. Was just gifted a big bag of AIDA and linen but none of it labelled so now I can count and label it correctly,

Susan (S

Susan (S

@Trish – Thanks for your question! Buckle in, we need to do a little math. :-)

If you stitch your pattern over 1 on 20-count Aida, you would have 20 stitches per inch. If your pattern was 60 stitches wide (for example), that would be a finished size of 3 inches (=60 stitches / 20 stitches per inch).

If you switch to 30-count linen and stitch over 2, you would have 15 stitches per inch, so that same pattern would now have a finished size of 4 inches (=60 stitches / 15 stitches per inch).

So, stitching over two on 30-count linen will give you a larger finished size than stitching over one on 20-count Aida. Since you wanted your finished project slightly larger, this may give you what you need. If not, you will have to think of other ways to make the project larger, for example, by adding a border or other design elements. You could also switch to over two on 28-count linen to make it 14 stitches per inch.

Hope this helps!

(Also, for tips on stitching over two, see this blog post: https://stitchedmodern.com/blogs/news/how-to-stitching-over-two-threads)

Trish Sherman

Trish Sherman

Hi Susan, How can I increase the size of the pattern when transferring from 20 ct. Aida to 30 ct linen? If I understand correctly, I should go over 2 squares on the linen, instead of 1 on Aida, but my finished product will be approximately the same size. I would like to make the finished product slightly larger. Thank you for your help.

Susan (Stitched Modern)

Susan (Stitched Modern)

@Lindsey – I’m glad you found it helpful. Happy stitching!

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