Aida Cloth is a woven fabric used primarily in counted cross-stitch. The fabric is an even weave, which leaves perfect squares for making cross-stitch x's. Because Aida Cloth is loosely woven, the spaces where the stitches need to be made are readily apparent. Aida Cloth can be purchased in small pieces, by yardage, or already inserted into prefinished projects. Most Aida Cloth is 100% cotton or a blend of cotton and linen fibers.
The size of the weave is measured by how many stitches can be made in one inch. This is called the fabric's count. The most common counts in Aida Cloth are 11, 14, 18 and 28. The higher the number, the smaller the stitches will be, because there are more stitches in each inch. Beginners may want to start with 11-count or 14-count Aida Cloth, as it is easy to see where to place the stitches. Stitching on fabric that is 28-count or higher requires good lighting and careful counting.
Most cross stitch patterns will recommend fabric with a particular stitch count in order to achieve a specific finished size project. To determine for yourself the finished size of any given cross-stitch chart, first count the number of graphed squares vertically and horizontally. Divide each number by the count of your fabric. For example, a chart that is 140 squares high by 210 squares wide stitched onto 14-count Aida Cloth would finish to 10" high x 15" wide. The same chart stitched onto 28-count fabric would be 5" wide x 7.5" high. Don't forget to leave plenty of extra fabric all around for borders (at least 3" on each side.) (If the math seems to be a bit much, try this handy cross stitch size calculator.)
Because Aida Cloth is loosely woven, it has a tendency to fray. Since cross-stitch projects are handled a great deal, you will want to finish the edges of your fabric before starting any project. This can be done by wrapping the cut edges with masking tape or sealing with a seam sealant such as Fray Check.
Aida Cloth can be purchased in small pieces for individual projects. Common sizes are 12"x18", 15"x18" and 30" wide yardage. It comes in a wide variety of colors, the most common of which are white, black, ecru, cream, and navy. Some has metallic threads interwoven, which can be nice for holiday and special occasion projects.
Linen for cross-stitching is most commonly sold in 28-threads-per-inch and is sometimes blended with cotton or nylon fabric. It often has a more natural, mottled look than Aida Cloth. Most linen is stitched over two threads, resulting in 14 stitches per inch cross-stitching.
Fiddler's Cloth comes in 14, 16 and 18-count fabrics and has a dappled, homespun, rustic look.
Waste Canvas is used to apply a cross-stitch pattern to fabrics other than even-weaves, such as t-shirts, sweatshirts or any tightly woven fabrics. The waste canvas is basted to the area where the cross-stitching is wanted, then used as a guide for the stitching. Once the cross-stitching is complete, the waste canvas is wetted, and then the canvas strands can be pulled out leaving just the cross-stitched design.
Soluble Canvas is used the same way as waste canvas except that when the cross-stitching is complete the canvas is dissolved away in warm water.
Prefinished projects with inserts are also available. Some of these include kitchen towels, guest towels, baby bibs, bookmarks and bread cloths.
Learn more about choosing the right embroidery hoop at the embroidery hoop buying guide.
Choose the right embroidery floss for your aida cloth at the embroidery floss buying guide.
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