Figuring out how much fabric needed for a new cross stitch project

Ever wonder how to figure out how much fabric is needed to do a cross stitch chart?

Well, with the vast array of fabulous fabrics out there, in independent cross stitch shops, and on some of the cooler websites. If you are still buying you fabric at the big box stores like Michaels and JoAnn the same 4-6 types are there in 3 or 4 colors. But as small business flourishes, albeit with some searching as their are fewer shops; there are some amazing colors, and styles of fabrics to do your latest project. But first, do you have enough to finish it and get it framed appropriately?

So here’s how you do it.

First, take a look at the chart, look for the stitch count. Most charts have it, some of the older ones may not list it, then just count the boxes of ten to get both the horizontal and the vertical stitch count.

So this particular chart is 72 stitches wide. Great! What now? Well, what fabric are you going to use? 14 count aida is 14 stitches to the inch. It is an even-weave, which means it has the same number of stitches horizontally or vertically, or on the warp and the weft. So take 72 stitches and divide by 14 stitches to the inch and you have you have 5.142…or about 5 1/4″ (rounded up for ease). You will not cut the fabric to this size as it is just the design size. Most framers love for you to have 3 inches around, so add 6 to that 5 1/4″ and the width to cut is 11 1/4″. Then the next figure vertical count. 88h divided by 14 count + 6″ or 3″ on both sides, 6 1/3″ + 6″ or 12 1/3″. So your fabric is 11 1/4″ by 12 1/3″. At this point you can round up to 12 1/3″ square just so you don’t mistake the one direction for the other and can just start stitching.

Now, this chart that I have used as an example is part of a series, Santa’s Village by Country Cottage Needleworks. If you decide to do all of the charts on one big piece of fabric, like pictured on Linda’s finished piece, I will explain how that is figured next.

12 Santa's Village from Country Cottage Needleworks

This series is 12 charts released throughout the year by Country Cottage. Linda stitched it on a 32 count over-dyed opalescent Belfast linen by Zweigart and the dying by Black Cauldron Dyeworks. This is a little trickier but here’s how you figure you fabric size for the lot. The designs are all the same size and horizontally the chart line right up, or the stitches start on the next chart right next to where they end. 72 stitches wide multiplied by 4 designs, and then divided by the fabric stitch count, not thread count. 72 X 4=288w divided by 16 (Belfast linen is 32 count, or 16 stitches to the inch, stitched over two threads) 18″ wide is the design + 6″ for framing or finishing total width being 24″. The vertical will take a wee bit more tweaking as the stitches between rows have a bit of space, Linda spaced the bottom of one design and the top of the next row with 2 cross stitch squares or 4 linen threads. 88h x 3 rows=264 +4 additional stitches for the spaces between rows, 268h divided by 16=16 3/4″ +6″=22 3/4″. Ideally your fabric should be 24″w by 22 3/4″h.

However, I just measured Linda’s fabric as it is overdyed and sometimes shrinks a wee bit during that process. It is 23″ by 23″. Giving the framer, me, just 2 1/2″ on two sides. No big deal. There is plenty for me to work with when I stretch and mount it.

Each design is different, some need to show a margin of fabric in the framing so as to not close the frame in too close on the design. Others designs, like the Dimensions Gold Collection, which have a solid stitched design where showing a width of fabric is not necessary, and the company only gives a mere 1 1/2″ to 2″ of perimeter (cost cutting and thus breaking well established rules, I shall not go on about this frustrating situation). Additionally, good quality over-dyed linen is not cheap. Sometimes a desire to fit a design within the common fat quarter ( FQ or stitcher’s quarter) commonly cut 18″ wide and then half of the selvedge to selvedge (with regards to Zweigart linen it is often 55″),  18″ by 27 1/2″. Designers like Mirabilia often design within a FQ. It is a good idea to figure you design size both horizontally and vertically, and see if it can fit within that size. If it is a wee bit  less than 3″, talk to your framer about whether or not it can be worked with. Sometimes mistakes happen, either at the cutting table, a fabric piece is flipped from landscape to portrait, or the fabric is one of a kind and looks wondrous with the design, or you just figured wrong. So when in doubt ask for help from your local cross stitch shop, or a knowledgeable framer who works often with needlework.

One more exampleStitched one over one

Ever see the words “stitched 2 over 2″ or “stitched one over one” on a chart. Well, that means 2 ply of embroidery floss over 2 linen threads. Or one ply of embroidery floss over one linen thread. The above example is the fabulous design Celtic Autumn by Lavender and Lace, stitched one over one on 25 count Floba. In order to work out the design size and therefore the cut size, you take the stitch count and divide it by the threads per inch, this makes a design very small, often half the original size. Think of the last time you shopped for a digital camera. What did you look for in quality of camera? Megapixels, right? Well, the more megapixels per inch the better the quality of photo you can take, the resolution is better. The same principal can be applied to your needle work, as the ambitious stitcher has demonstrated in the above photo. The finer the fabric, the more pixels per square inch, the more amazing you finished piece will look. I personally stitch as fine as I can as my eyes allow it, and recommend the same to you. The ever popular Heaven and Earth designs recommend 25 count Lugana for their designs, and I add or finer. Get a piece of 18, 25, 28 or even 32 count linen, and do a small swatch in the corner over one. Get a dark color thread like brown, black or blue, and stitch a 4 stitch by 4 stitch square and see how it look. Is it grainy? Can you go finer? Do you need to use 2 ply instead of one? How is the tension. I have framed a piece where the gal did a Heaven and Earth design over one on 32 count Belfast. My tension is too loose and therefore looks like popcorn on that count, so I either have to snug up my stitchers or change to 28 count Cashel, which I have.

Go ahead and raid your stash, find a piece of scrap fabric and see if you can find a design to work on it, it is easier with practice.

Happy Stitching,



Needle Craft World

Needle Craft World’s new web page is now in the works. Watch for updates

This is the new page for Needle Craft World, a needlework, knit and crochet yarn shop, and custom picture frame shop specializing in framing needlework.

The shop is located at 4151 West Vine Street Kissimmee, FL 34741.

Hours of operation are Monday – Thursday 10am-5pm, Friday 10am-3pm, Saturday 10am-5pm, and the shop is closed on Sunday.



Hello world!

Hello! I am working on a new website. Watch for new content as I learn this process.

Looking forward to an easier shopping experience for customers around the world. Also, to be posting news and information regarding the shop, it’s wares, and anything going on around the shop’s offerings.