The Ultimate Guide To Cross Stitch Fabrics

I remember being kind of confused when I started shopping around for cross stitch fabrics. I thought that any kind would do, and I had no idea that it came in different sizes! This article will go over the different types of fabric there are to choose from and what to look for when you are gathering supplies for your next project.

Characteristics of Fabric To Know

First, before we go over the 3 different types of cross stitch fabric, it’s important to understand a few important characteristics they all have. You may see some of these terms on the labels of the fabrics, and it’s important to understand what each one means.


Fabric is made up of warp and weft (lengthwise and crosswise) threads that are woven together. The way these threads are interlaced is what makes up the “weave” of the fabric.

For cross stitch fabrics, they are all evenly woven. This is very beneficial for cross stitch because the cross stitches you make will be the exact same width and height. Additionally, the holes in the fabric form a visible grid that you can follow to stitch a pattern.


These are the materials that make up the threads of the fabric. There are natural fibers (like cotton, linen, wool) and synthetic fibers (like polyester and rayon).

Most cross stitch fabrics are made up primarily of natural fibers, are relatively sturdy, and don’t have any stretch to them.

Thread Count

Even weave fabrics have the same number of vertical and horizontal threads throughout the fabric.

The thread count is determined by the number of threads per square inch of fabric.

Cross stitch fabrics can come in counts anywhere from 11 and sometimes all the way up to 32.

Generally speaking, the higher the thread count is, the closer the weave and smaller the holes in the fabric will be.

How to Measure The Thread Count Of Fabric

Most fabrics will disclose the thread count, but if you don’t have the package for a particular piece of fabric, you can easily determine the thread count with a ruler. Measure one inch of the fabric (vertically or horizontally) and count how many holes are in it, and that’s your thread count!

Types of Cross Stitch Fabrics

There are three different types of fabrics that are commonly used for counted needlework such as cross stitch. They are Aida, evenweave, and linen.

aida cloth


Cotton Aida is a sturdy fabric that has an even weave to it. It has and open weave with larger visible holes in it, which makes it the easiest fabric for beginners because it has an easy “grid” to follow. It’s super affordable and widely available in most craft stores.

The 14 count Aida cloth is a popular choice for cross stitchers to start with but some of the most common counts are 11, 16, 18, and 22ct.

One thing to keep in mind with Aida is it’s not as easy to make fractional stitches on. If you have a pattern that calls for them, it may be better to use linen or evenweave.

evenweave fabric


Made up of evenly woven threads that are the same width throughout the fabric, evenweave fabric contains natural and sometimes synthetic fibers in it. (Most are cotton / rayon blends)

It is a little bit less stiff than Aida fabric but slightly more stiff than linen. The holes are usually slightly smaller than the holes in lower count Aida fabric.

This fabric comes in a variety of thread counts including 25, 28, 30, and 32ct.

There are a few names they go by, so here they are with their corresponding thread counts:

  • Lugana – 25 count
  • Brittney- 28 count
  • Murano – 32 count
linen fabric


Linen is an evenly woven fabric made of flax. It is the softest of the 3 fabrics and can sometimes contain some natural irregularities in the weave of the fabric since it is 100% natural. This fabric is the highest quality, but it can be bit more pricey.

This elegant fabric comes in higher counts, which means it has a closer weave so it is more suitable for more detailed designs or advanced cross stitch work. It’s a great choice for patterns that require different stitch variations, such as French knots or fractional stitches

Here are a few different types of linen with their corresponding thread counts:

  • Linen Hardanger – 16ct
  • Belfast Linen – 32ct
  • Edinburgh Linen – 36ct

Determining The Fabric Count For Cross Stitch Patterns

Most cross stitch patterns will tell you what count of fabric to use for a particular design or they will list out the finished dimensions based on several different counts.

For fabrics with a lower count (below 28ct), each cross stitch is usually made across one hole (or one thread) of the fabric.

However, when you use cross stitch fabrics that are 28ct or higher, you will want to stitch across/over every 2nd hole in the fabric. Otherwise, your stitches will be tiny!

This means that you should divide the thread count of the fabric in 2. In this case, if you stitch over 2 holes per stitch on 28 count linen, you will only have 14 stitches per inch of fabric, so the finished dimensions would be the same as if you were stitching the pattern on 14 count fabric. This is important to calculate so use the right amount of fabric for a particular cross stitch design. (Forgetting to factor this in is common mistake a lot of people make!)

What Is The Best Fabric For Cross Stitch?

It really depends on the type of project you’re working on, your skill level, the types of stitches you are making, and your personal preference. Here are a few considerations to make when choosing a fabric.

  • More detailed cross stitch projects may call for a closer weave of fabric such as linen.
  • If you are a beginner, it is easiest to learn on Aida fabric.
  • Embroidery stitches that use fractional stitches are easier to make on evenweave and linen.
  • Linen has irregularities in the weave of the fabric, so if you are looking for a fabric that is completely even throughout, go for Aida or evenweave.

Where To Buy Cross Stitch Fabric

Most craft stores carry rolls of Aida, even weave, and linen. Another great place to check is on Etsy! I love Stuart Moore’s textiles hand dyed fabrics. This Aida fabric is beautiful.

Can You Cross Stitch On Clothes?

It is possible to cross stitch on other types of fabrics such as quilting cotton and clothing. However, the fabric’s weave will usually be too tight to use as a guide for stitching. This is where waste canvas comes into play.

Waste Canvas

Waste canvas can be used for fabrics that are plainly woven to serve as a temporary grid for cross stitching. It can be removed after you are finished stitching. Waste canvas comes in counts just like other cross stitch fabrics and it’s available as a polyester canvas that pulls outs when you’re done or as a water-soluble canvas that you can wash away. Check out this guide for how to use it.

the best cross stitch fabrics

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