Moving on from my history of cross stitch, I’ve started looking into the various parts of cross stitch and breaking down some of the walls people see when starting out. One of these has got to be the fabrics used for cross stitch.
Simply put, there are four types of fabric used:
- Aida (the most widely used)
There are then also specialist fabrics:
- Waste Canvas
- Plastic Canvas
A note on counts:
Before we get into what makes up a fabric, we should mention counts. In short, this is the amount of full cross stitches you can get in a line, for an inch. The most common type is a 14 count, which is an Aida. Some fabrics come only in set sizes.
Aida was invented in 1890 specifically for cross stitch and counted cross stitch. As a result its the most widely used fabric for cross stitch, and is very likely to be the type your using.
Its made up of regular holes on a semi-rigid starch heavy cotton. It allows you to cross stitch in perfect squares by using the holes given.
They come in different size counts, from 10 to 32.
Hardanger is very similar to aida, however is 100% cotton without starch, meaning its very easy to stretch and warp. It comes in 22 count only,, however cross stitch can be done over 2 “sets” giving 11 count. Prior to 1986 this was the most common fabric for cross stitch, and most historic examples of cross stitch are on Hardanger. Since the invention of aida Hardanger has dropped massively in popularity and is very rare currently.
Linen is a very traditional fabric used for embroidery, made up of flax. It can come in a large variance of types, with smaller or larger holes, however its normally found as a 22 to 36 count.
Evenweave however is a combination of multiple fabric types. Officially aida is a type of linen, but with added starch and even spacing. Evenweave however is linen with even spacing, but no starch. The image here shows that whilst Evenweave is normally much higher count, it can vary from 18 to 32.
The first of out specialist fabrics, waste canvas is made to either dissolve in contact with water, or to be able to pull it apart when wet. Its effectively a type of aida, but with larger holes and special starch that washes out. It usually only comes in 14 count.
Despite its very specific purpose, you can still cross stitch objects without waste canvas.
Going the other way for a specialist thread, plastic canvas is made to be stiff, so you can make 3D objects. It comes in a variety of types, as seen in the image, and some plastics are stiffer than others, meaning you can use them for different purposes. They come in 14 count normally, however I have seen 16, 18 and 22.
An example of what can be acheived with plastic canvas is my transforming cross stitch robot.