Cross Stitch Fabric Count: What Does It Mean?

The definition of cross stitch fabric count

Creative Poppy Patterns

You are new to cross stitch and want to dive in to stitching right away. Before you get started, it is a wise decision to familiarize yourself with the basic tools you will be using. You already know about the dull needle and the floss, but what about the cross stitch fabric. Your pattern is calling for a 14 count fabric. What is cross stitch fabric count? Why do you need to know the difference between 14, 22  and 28 count?

Knowledge of what fabric count means will make the work go faster, easier and the whole cross stitch experience will be more pleasurable. Let's check out what fabric count is and how it can benefit your cross stitch project. 

For the purpose of this article, we will be referring to Aida or Linen fabric when we use fabric count. There are other materials out there, but these are the most common. 

Fabric count of even weave fabrics such as Aida or linen refers to the number of threads or squares per linear inch in the material. Confused yet? Don't worry, it will get simpler. 

Common fabric counts of Aida range from 10 to 22 squares per inch. You will mostly see 12,14,16,18 in projects. The higher the count between inches, the smaller the stitch.This is just the opposite of most counting items. Normally, the larger the number, the bigger the thing, right? Well, in cross stitch fabric counts, the larger the number the smaller it is.

Still confused? Take out a ruler and look at an inch on it, now take out your fabric and count how many stitches you can make within that inch. If your fabric is bigger, say 10 count, then you will be able to stitch 10 cross stitches in that inch. The larger the number, the more stitches you can pack in, but your entire project will be smaller.

Linen fabric counts are based on threads per inch can be as high as 32 threads per inch or more. Again, get out your ruler and linen fabric. Look and see how many stitches you can get in that inch. There are a lot of stitches, but they are very tiny. 

Fabric counts are referred to by naming the number of threads or squares per inch and adding -count. Thus, fabric with 11 squares-per-inch is called 11-count fabric.

To throw you for a loop, you might sometimes  will see a project say threads per inch. This type of labeling is the same thing as count. It means square per inch. 

Now that you understand what fabric count is, you will have the ability to adjust pattern size and work on bigger projects without feeling overwhelmed. It is an easy way to break down big patterns into smaller manageable pieces. 

There are many sites that can help with counting the cross stitch or with more in-depth information about fabric count, such as how to adjust your fabric, either larger or smaller, to alter your final project. 

Yarn Tree has a great thread count calculator on their site. You simply put in the measurements of the project and she will calculate the size for you. This is a wonderful tool if you want to make a smaller pattern larger for household items such as chair covers and large wall hangings.

Remember that when you alter the fabric size, you might lose some of the detail. It is something to think about when choosing a pattern and fabric to alter. 

Cross stitcher Laurel Ann has a really great in depth video about fabric count.You can see fabric count broken down via video. Sometimes this is easier for people to grasp the concept because you can actually see and hear someone explain it.  

Fabric count is essential to a well-made project. You can certainly stitch anyway you wish, but knowing what counts are and how they work into fabric will help you gauge the size of a project. You can adjust your pattern to fit whatever style and size you want. Now that you have the knowledge, have fun with your stitching! Think outside the box and create something unique.