Cross Stitch Fabric Sizes

Sewing FabricIf you’ve got a friend who is into needlecraft and want to get them a gift a bit more useful than just another cross stitch kit, you’ll probably have run into the Fabric Problem. Having a friend or loved one say “I’d love a roll of fabric” for their needlecraft is all well and good, but you can’t just go and pick up any old bit of cloth from a market.

Cross stitch fabric starts off as a large roll, the width of which is the principle thing to know in order to work out what the final dimensions will be of the piece you buy. For example, Aida fabric often comes in rolls which are 43 inches wide but can be any length, often a dozen yards or more. If you ordered a full yard of this type of fabric, you’d end up with a piece which measured 36 inches (1 yard) by 43 inches (the roll width). Cutting this in half would give you what in needlecraft parlance is called a fat yard – best not to ask why – you’d have a piece measuring 36 inches by 21.5 inches – so cutting in half usually means halving the widest measurement of the original fabric. Cut again – for a fat quarter – and you get 18 inches by 21.5 inches. Any reputable craft shop will be able to help you work out what you need.

The fun starts when you try to work out your pattern size in stitches, which is how most kits give their dimensions. A lot of embroidery kits will even leave it up to you to decide the type and size of fabric you want to finish your project.

To work out the needed pattern size in inches you first need to know your stitch count – this is how many threads in the fabric weave per inch. You also need to know whether the pattern is “over one” or “over two.” If you use an Aida 14 count fabric, for instance, there are 14 threads per inch (so 14 holes per inch, for cross stitching). If you stitch “over one” – meaning every x you stitch is over one thread on the fabric, you get 14 stitches per inch of fabric. If you instead use a linen fabric with a stitch count of 28 then most people will stitch “over two” instead, meaning each x stitch is over two fabric threads – but still gives you the same 14 stitches per inch. Using these figures you can therefore work out the dimensions of the pattern in inches based on the number of stitches in width and height.

Don’t forget, however, about framing! Lots of needlecraft enthusiasts like to frame their finished projects as these make beautiful wall hangings. A decent needlecraft frame can easily take another 2-3 inches up around each edge of the finished design, so it doesn’t hurt to add another 6 inches or so onto both the width and height of the fabric over the top of the minimum size needed by the pattern.

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