Cross Stitch Tips: Gridding Cross Stitch Fabric

Avoid Mistakes by Matching the 10x10 Pattern Grid

Image of Gridding Method
Gridding - Corner Method. Graphic © Connie G. Barwick, licensed to, Inc.

You have mastered small projects and now want to try something bigger. You know all the stitches, your floss is in order but where do you start with the project? It is just too big and overwhelming to start. No need to stress, once you learn how to gird, you will be stitching big projects in no time. 

Just what is gridding? Is it complicated? Not at all! Let's learn more about gridding and how it can help you with big projects.


When stitching a large Cross Stitch project, one of the biggest frustrations is caused by making mistakes in placing stitches You can often be all the way through your project and notice that one or more stitches is off. One part of the design will end up being one space off. A row missed here will cause another part of the design to be askew.This can cause major frustration. Do you leave the project as is and home that the rest won't be wonky or do you take it out and start from the beginning. It is mistakes like this that discourage new cross stitchers and make them want to give up. 

To help avoid misplaced stitches, many stitchers baste a grid on the fabric that matches the 10x10 grid used for most Cross Stitch patterns. This keeps the pattern from going askew and keeping your stitching on target. It is such a smart and efficient way to keep on track and not lose your stitches or place.


Tips for successful gridding:

  • Use a light-colored floss that will not leave fuzz or mar the fabric to create the grid. Many stitchers use quilting thread or silk floss. Another option is to use a product such as Easy Count Guideline that is specifically designed for gridding fabric.
  • Make the grid as elaborate or as simple as you need. Mark the corners as shown in the graphic here or add more definition to the 10x10 box. You may even choose to grid your design in 5x5 boxes. If you want to do a smaller square, 5x5 is the way to go but most use 10x10. 
  • Match the grid on your fabric to the grid on the pattern. If the pattern does not have a grid, place it in sheet protector and mark your own grid with a pencil or highlighter. (Take care not to get the marker on your fabric.) This is so simple and such a brilliant way to match up the pattern and make sure your stitches match. No more miss stitches or lines. 
  • Some stitchers use a water soluble pen to mark the grid on fabric. Be very careful if you use this method. The pen may not all wash out. It may also fade over time if you are stitching a larger project.
  • When removing gridding floss, use sharp scissors to snip away any strands of the grid which may have been pierced as you stitched.

Many experienced cross stitcher will use this process to stay on track and allow them concentrate more on having fun and relaxing with stitching rather than being bogged down with making sure they counted correctly.  While you will not do this for every project, for bigger pieces it is a time saver. Smaller projects can use this method too, but it is not really needed. Some beginners will use gridding on all their projects until they feel more comfortable.  It may take a little time at the beginning of the project to do this, but it will save you mind in the long run.

It is not a hard thing to do and once you match it up with the pattern, it will make complete sense and you will wonder why you haven't done this all the time. The best part, your work will be in line and you won't have to rip out stitches or cover a mistake. You will only have a perfect cross stitch project.