As a beginner cross stitcher, it can be overwhelming to figure out exactly what fabric and needles you need. There are so many different colors, sizes, and materials that sometimes you just don’t know where to start. This guide will break down cross stitch fabric and needle options so you’ll know exactly what to grab for your next project. Never get stuck wondering “wait… is this right?” again!
Cross Stitch Fabric
Cross stitch fabric, also called cloth, comes in all sorts of colors, shades, shapes, and sizes. There is quite a range of options to choose from and some types are better for certain projects than others.
Aida fabric is a community favorite and most stitchers begin their journey by using Aida. The large open holes and stiff fabric feel make it perfect for beginners. But it’s not just popular with beginners! Aida is the most commonly used fabric out of all of the fabric options. You can find Aida fabric most commonly in 11, 14, 16, and 18 counts. Count refers to the number of holes per inch. It is widely available in large craft stores and online.
Unsure about all of this cross stitch jargon? Check out my cross stitch acronyms and terminology for beginners cheat sheet!
If you are a complete beginner, it’s recommended to start with 14 count Aida. This fabric will have 14 holes per inch and it will be very easy to see the holes that you need to stitch into. I recommend choosing a lighter fabric, such as white, to get started. It can be more difficult to clearly see the holes if you use a darker color like black or navy.
Aida fabric is usually “stitched over one”. This means that each square in the fabric is considered equal to one cross stitch or “X”. For example, if you’re using a 14 count Aida, there will be 14 holes per inch. There will also be 14 cross stitches per inch. This makes stitching a breeze and you can easily see where you’re at in your pattern.
Evenweave fabric has the same size fibers throughout – meaning the fibers are evenly weaved in the fabric. Each fiber being the same size means your finished project will have a nice, uniform look when you’re finished. While similar to Aida, evenweave fabric comes in higher counts than Aida. You can commonly find evenweave fabric in 25, 28 and 32 counts.
A lot of folks will opt for a larger stitch count because it means the holes in the fabric are smaller, and will stand out less in the finished piece. Smaller holes can give your piece a more refined look.
Evenweave fabric is usually “stitched over two”. This means that each cross stitch is stitched over two holes in the fabric. A pattern stitched on 14 count Aida over one and stitched on 28 count evenweave over two will be the same finished size. Evenweave can also be stitched over one depending on the look you’re going for. If you’re dipping your toes into learning how to stitch over two, evenweave fabric is a great fabric to learn on.
Lastly, you can cross stitch on linen. Linen has a very delicate look and is a favorite among seasoned stitchers. Because linen is a natural fabric, it can have some irregularities like different-sized threads and slubs. This can make it a bit more challenging to stitch on if you’re newer to cross stitch.
Linen, like evenweave, is typically stitched over two. You can find linen in a variety of counts. Some of the most popular are 28, 32, 36 and 40.
Cross Stitch Needles
Now that you have some basic fabric knowledge, let’s move onto needles. While you can always use whatever type of needle feels best for you, this guide will give you a great starting point for choosing the right size needle to use with your choice of fabric.
Cross stitchers use tapestry needles. Tapestry needles are needles with blunt tips and large eyes for threading the needle. Because cross stitch fabric has an open weave, the blunt tip will help prevent you from splitting the threads in your cloth and accidentally stitching in the wrong spot. An added bonus: blunt-tipped needles mean no painful finger pricks!
There are a large variety of tapestry needles available. The number correlates to the size of the needle. The larger the number, the smaller the needle.
Here’s a quick guide on the recommended tapestry needle size for your count of fabric:
Now you’re ready to get stitching! Complete newbie? Check out my beginner cross stitch series that includes an in-depth video tutorial and written instructions.