We have a really stunning update on The Madonna of the Chair in our gallery! Be sure to
This month we want to talk about the question we are asked most often:
How to Select Fabric for your Cross Stitch
You've just finished stitching a cross stitch pattern and now it's time to think about how you want to
frame your work -- right? Wrong! The time to think about framing is
before you start!
Before you buy fabric, think about how you would like your work to look
when it is framed. If the cross stitch fills a solid
rectangle (as most of our designs do) you have a choice about whether any fabric will show
in the frame (or just stitching). You may want to frame your cross stitch with a border of fabric
showing between the stitching and the frame. Or you may have a mat, but still let some fabric show
inside the mat. Or you may mat so that no fabric shows at all, or frame right up to the stitching
without a mat.
want some fabric to show, choose attractive fabric, in a color that compliments the
work. If the color you want to pick up from the picture is dark, though, you should
probably let a mat do that job, and stitch on light or neutral-colored fabric. Take your pattern
to your local cross stitch shop and browse through the fabrics. If you decide that no fabric
will show, remember that aida cloth, although not as attractive as other kinds,
is ideal for whole cross stitch, and it costs less than most other kinds of fabric.
If the background of the piece is not stitched, or the design is circular or oval, the fabric
will show, and the pattern will tell you what color fabric to use. Again, you will want to choose
an attactive fabric.
We recommend stitching on fabric that will give you at least 16 or 18 stitches per inch. For aida,
this means 16 or 18-count fabric. For other kinds of fabric, be sure you know whether you will be
stitching “over one” or “over two”. Linen is usually stitched over two threads (each cross covers two threads of the fabric instead of one) so 28-count linen only gives you 14 stitches per inch.
Once you've selected fabric that is a suitable color and thread count, you're ready to decide how
much fabric you will need. You can use our visual fabric calculator to do this. It lets you try different amounts of border and shows you to scale how they will look, but here are the steps.
Figure out the dimensions of the stitching itself. This will be the number of
stitches in the pattern divided by the stitches per inch of the fabric. If the pattern is 300 stitches wide, and you will stitch over two on 32 count linen (16 stitches per inch), then the stitched width will be 300 divided by 16, or 18.75 inches wide.
If the background of the piece is not stitched, you must add some room
around the stitching. Illustrations include this additional space but it's not
in the chart. (For example, if you didn't add some fabric for a border around
our rose pattern, the mat or frame would touch the rose.)
If you want a mat, add its width and height. Usually mats are a little bigger at the bottom than on the sides and top. Finally, add 3 inches per side to allow the work to be stretched.
Continuing with our example, the stitching was 18.75 inches wide. We add 1.5 inches on each side for a fabric border, say 2 inches for a mat, and 3 inches for framing. All these additions must be multiplied by 2 because they are the amounts we're adding on each side: 18.75 + 1.5 x 2 + 2 x 2 + 3 x 2 = 33.5 inches. The calculation works the same way in the vertical direction.
It's heart-breaking to finish a piece, or be given an heirloom cross stitch, and not be able to frame
it the way you would like because there isn't enough fabric. Don't let this
happen to you!
We haven't discussed choosing the frame itself -- but that decision really can be left to the end.