Cross stitch gridding is something that is super helpful but often overlooked or skipped. In this post, we’ll walk through 3 different ways you can grid out the fabric for a counted cross stitch project that will make your life a lot easier! It may require a bit more effort or time up front depending on which method you choose, but it’s guaranteed to save you time and frustration throughout your project.
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What is Cross Stitch Gridding?
Gridding is simply marking the fabric to match the gridlines that make up a cross stitch pattern. Each cross stitch pattern is made on a graph, usually marked with gridlines and numbers. While you don’t have to mark the numbers onto the fabric, it’s helpful to mark the same gridlines (usually every 10 stitches) onto the fabric so that it is easier to follow along and keep track of your counted stitches.
There are generally 3 different ways that the fabric can be marked:
Why is Gridding Helpful For Counted Cross Stitch?
There are a few benefits of gridding out the fabric before you get started:
- Makes it easier to locate the center and edges of the design.
- Makes it quicker to match up the fabric and the stitches on the corresponding paper pattern.
- Saves you from making mistakes from miscounting.
- Very helpful for larger projects.
- Makes is easier to count on fabrics with higher thread counts
The first benefit is that it makes it way easier to plan out and locate the center of your fabric and the edges of your design. While you most likely used a cross stitch calculator or did the math in your head to calculate how much fabric you’ll need, it’s smart to leave a little leftover fabric around the edges. Naturally, gridding out the fabric before you get started will allow you to be accurate down to the square, so you know exactly where you are in relation to the corresponding pattern and you’ll ensure that it will be centered properly.
The next reason this method is so helpful is that it can save you time by making it easier to match up the stitches between the paper pattern and the fabric. Additionally, it will be more accurate, saving you even more time that would otherwise be wasted from ripping out mistakes made from miscounting.
Gridding can be used for any size project, but it is especially helpful for larger cross stitch projects that are easier to lose track of or miscount your stitches.
Marking the fabric can also be helpful for fabrics with higher thread counts where the squares are harder to see, like linen.
A Few Tips For Getting Started
- Have your paper pattern available and take note of how many stitches the pattern is comprised of horizontally and vertically.
- Cut a piece of fabric that will properly fit the pattern before you get started. Here is a great calculator to use.
- Choose a contrasting color to mark the fabric that will be easily seen. Keep in mind the colors that are in your cross stitch pattern as well. For example, if there is a lot of green in it, maybe choose a color that will stand out more!
Gridding The Fabric With Water Soluble Marker
Water soluble marker is by far one of the easiest ways for gridding cross stitch fabric. These blue water soluble markers are some of the best ones. They last a long time and don’t fade from handling, but they wash out easily and completely when you’re done.
Be sure to test out any marker you use on a sample of the fabric before you get started to ensure that it will completely disappear. You may also want to test out the thread for color fastness and to make sure it doesn’t bleed onto the fabric.
Can You Use A Pencil To Grid Cross Stitch?
While you can use pencil, it may not erase completely or it can leave smudges on your work. Unless you are working on a project that will cover the entire grid you mark out, it is recommended that you use something that can be removed entirely.
What About Frixion Pens For Gridding?
While these pens can be used for surface embroidery, I would not recommend gridding with them. These pens are heat erasable, but sometimes they leave ghost marks (light, subtle marks) and they don’t always entirely disappear. They can even reappear in extreme cold temperatures!
How To Mark A Grid On Cross Stitch Fabric
Make a dot or cross on every 10th hole based off of the paper pattern.
Then use a ruler and carefully trace out the lines based on the marks you made.
Marking Fabric With Wire Or Thread
If you don’t have a water soluble marker or you’re working with a darker fabric that requires a different contrasting color to mark the fabric, marking the fabric with wire or thread is an option.
In this tutorial, I will walk you through an easy way to mark the fabric.
Note: For the example below, I marked the fabric using thread because that is what I had on hand. Thread is not necessarily the best option for marking the fabric because you could accidentally stitch through it, making it really hard to remove when you are finished. Because of this, it’s recommended to use wire if possible. Mark at your own risk!
It’s easiest to mark out every 10 stitches when you are working with thread or wire. You can do every 5 if you really wanted to, but it will be easier to remove later on if there are less stitches.
In order to avoid overlapping the threads, (this could cause more chance of snagging and tangling thread which would be harder to take out) I made one stitch over 8 squares, then skipped a hole, for a total of 10 squares.
First stitch the diameter of the pattern following this stitch pattern.
Then, go back and fill in the rest of the rows and finally the rest of the columns.
To make it super easy to take out, I used one strand of thread per column or row, and I left them unsecured. I then secured them with some paper tape so that I wouldn’t even have to cut any knots!
Easy Count Aida Cloth
There is an even easier option that doesn’t involve manually marking the fabric: Easy Count Aida cloth. This has small wires that are threaded through the fabric to mark every 10 stitches. The wires come in several different colors and can be removed when you are finished with the project.
The only downside to this product is that it appears to only be available for Aida cloth and not for even weave or linen fabrics.
Finally, if you don’t mind the grid lines being on the fabric, which may be the case if your project covers the entire fabric, there are fabrics available that have preprinted lines. Some of these products state that the lines will wash out, but I would be sure to read the instructions carefully and test it first before using it!
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If you’re interested in learning even more about cross stitch, check out this post all about how to cross stitch neatly.
Amanda is a hand embroidery artist and teacher. With over 15 years of experience in the craft industry and embroidery, she owns and runs Crewel Ghoul, sharing tutorials and patterns to help inspire fellow crafters to get inspired and creative. In addition to running this website, she teaches on Skillshare and Youtube.