Guide to Cross Stitch Fabrics
Aida (pronounced ‘ah-ee-da’ – named after the Italian opera!) is a cotton or cotton-mix fabric woven into blocks marked out by regularly-spaced holes. It is made in different ‘counts’, ie blocks per inch. The commonest counts are 6, 8, 11, 14, 16, and 18-count Aida, and obviously 6 blocks per inch gives bigger blocks and holes than 18-count.
6-count Aida or ‘Binca’ is especially popular with children starting to cross-stitch, whilst 11-count is ideal for adult beginners or for a ‘primitive’ folk effect. We sell Aida in a variety of widths and colours, both plain and with lurex for a shimmery effect – especially good at Christmas. Rustico is a natural country-looking Aida, available in 14- and 18-count, and 100% linen Aida is also now available. Either of these are an excellent choice for stitchers looking for the ‘natural’ look of linen but who prefer the larger grid pattern of Aida.
When people refer to ‘Hardanger’ fabric, they usually mean a type of 22-count Aida used for Hardanger designs. The fabric has two threads woven over each other horizontally and vertically, giving a blocked appearance. However, any woven fabric can be used for Hardanger work, and linen is the traditional fabric of choice. Beginners are often ‘started’ on either a 20-count Bellana evenweave or a lovely 20-count linen that we stock.
Evenweave Fabrics – Cotton, Mixed Fibre and Line
A general term for fabrics that can be used for cross stitch instead of Aida. They have a single thread horizontally and vertically, with the same number of threads per inch vertically and horizontally. They're called 'evenweaves' for this reason - as opposed to 'non-evenweave' fabrics where there are more threads per inch in one direction than the other, giving a 'non-square' fabric. Some of the linen fabrics in very old samplers are non-evenweave, but most linens these days are evenweaves. Evenweaves aremore loosely-woven and less stiff than Aida, and are usually stitched over two threads. Linda, Jazlyn and linen are three popular types of evenweave.
Evenweaves are suitable for finer cross stitch or for embroidery stitches that cannot be worked over blocks, and give a finer background than Aida. They are available in a variety of colours.
Where cross stitch is worked over two threads of an evenweave, the work will be the same size as they would be on Aida of half the count, ie. working over two threads on a 28-count evenweave gives stitches of exactly the same size as working over one block of 14-count Aida.
100% Cotton Evenweaves – these include Zweigart Davosa (18-count), Linda (27-count) and Annabelle (28-count).
Mixed-fibre Evenweave Fabrics - these include Zweigart Bellana (20-count), Lugana (25-count), Brittany (28-count) and Quaker (28-count). They have a percentage of man-made fibre, either to make them more supple or to givea slight sheen.
100% Linen - arguably the loveliest fabric to work on, linen is available from 11 count up to around 40 count for cross-stitch, and much finer counts are available for surface embroidery. As with other evenweaves, the pattern is normally stitched over two threads, although for the very large counts (11, 16 and 20), it’s quite easy to stitch over one thread. As well as cross-sttich, linen looks beautiful as a basis for embroidery and is ideal for pulled thread work and Hardanger. Linen fibres have a 'slub' or thick/thin texture, which gives thelovely natural look and feel. Once you're used to this it's no problem, but if you prefer fibres that are absolutely even, you need to use a cotton or mixed-fibre evenweave.