Most pre-packed cross stitch kits come supplied with the appropriate fabric to complete your project. However sometimes you may wish to transfer the pattern to a different type or thread count, depending on ability or the required finish.
The two most common fabric types used in cross stitch are Aida and Evenweave and both come in a variety of colours and thread counts. Understanding the differences can be difficult and so we have separated the range we stock into Aida and Evenweave and given an explanation to the qualities of both along with some other useful information.
If you scroll down past the products you will find a section on an explanation of thread counts to try and help you in improve your cross stitch knowledge and therefore the quality of your projects overall.
Aida is cotton fabric that has been woven into blocks that creates large and obvious holes for taking the needle through. This means that this type of fabric is particularly good for beginners and geometric cross stitch designs. However Aida does have its disadvantages; it does not lend itself well to the use of fractional stitches and has a tendency to fray.
We also include the following three pieces of trivia information regarding Aida:
1) It apparently has been known as Java Canvas, Toile Colbert and "Fancy Oatmeal".
2) It has been produced by the company Zweigart for over 115 years.
3) There is anecdotal evidence that it was called Aida due to an opera of the same name and the company wanted to capitalise on it's success.
Evenweave is woven from flax singly, rather than in blocks like Aida, therefore each stitch is formed over two threads rather than a singular block. With this in mind we can see that Evenweave count is equal to half the count in Aida. Eg. 28 count Evenweave is the same in stitching size to that of 14 count Aida. Although Evenweave can be stitched over one thread to create very fine detail. Evenweave has the advantages that fractionals are far easier to achieve using the central hole and the fabric itself gives a far smoother finish to the piece. However Evenweave is slightly more expensive and does have natural irregularities in the fabric.
Threads counts can be a little tricky to understand but basically thread count refers to the amount of threads that can be counted in a linear inch of fabric. More simply it is the amount of blocks that can be counted in a linear inch. This means that the higher the count, the more blocks there are to the inch and the smaller the stitches will be.
If it helps, think of each block as a pixel and the smaller the block/pixel the higher the "resolution" of the overall image.
Aida typically has counts of 10-22 whilst linen based fabrics such as Evenweave commonly go up all the way to 32. But don't forget that this is because it is woven singly as so in essence has double the thread count of Aida but the stitches will be of comparable size.
Understanding thread count will allow you to transfer a cross stitch pattern onto different fabric. For example if you have been supplied with 16 count Aida in a pre-packed kit but wish to complete it instead on Evenweave then you would need to choose 32 count as this will give you essentially the same stitching size.
Ultimately though you may feel that the pattern would benefit from using a smaller or larger stitching size, if so don't be afraid to experiment, though knowledge of what works best will come with practice.