Cross Stitch Gridding Techniques

Gridding isn’t often talked about in cross stitch, its often seen as an ‘if you want to’ kind of task, however, gridding is actually one of the best things you can do.
Simply put, counted cross stitch requires (you guessed it) counting. The time you take to count can not only be massive, but you can, and often do, miss count requiring mass unpicking. Gridding stops all of that. In fact, one of the products we’ll talk about says it can cut stitching time by one third!
So with that in mind, what exactly is the best way to grid your cross stitch? Well, it’s all a matter of choice. We’ve taken the most popular ways and detailed them out so you can give them a shot.

Easy Count Guideline

cross stitch grid lines in Easy Count Guideline by A satisfied spirit (source:
cross stitch grid lines in Easy Count Guideline by A satisfied spirit (source:

You’ve probably seen gridded cross stitch on the internet, with red lines crossing. The likelihood is that its Easy Count Guideline, which works as a thread, but instead of being made from cotton is a thin wire. The advantage of this is that is doesn’t get caught up in your stitches and when you’re done you can simply pull it out. It is, by far, the most common gridding technique and I personally use it myself. However, its also the most expensive with costs of about $6 for 10m. It’s also technically a ‘secure object’ in the EU, so you must be 18+ to buy it.

Single Threads

Thread grid cross stitch by medlow studio tapestry needlepoint (source:
Thread grid cross stitch by medlow studio tapestry needlepoint (source:

I hear you all saying to yourselves “so why can’t I just use thread instead?” well, you could, I just wouldn’t suggest it. The issue with single threads is that you can stitch through them, meaning when you go to pull out your thread; you can’t. Not only that but as its part of the stitch now, you can’t cut it out easily. This means that your guideline, which is normally a bright color can’t be removed, ruining your stitch.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t use it, in fact, for backstitching projects its a fantastic idea!

Fishing Line

“Fine, but are there cheaper options? I’ve heard people use fishing line?” True, you can use fishing line, and the fishing line is often cheaper than the official stitching alternative. I’ll even let you into a secret; Easy Count Guideline is actually just fishing wire. The difference, however, comes in thickness of the wire. There are a lot of fishing wires that would work OK, but the thinner, the better. Look for wire rated less than 8 pounds.

Easy Count Pre Grided Aida

Zweigart Easy Count Grid (source:
Zweigart Easy Count Grid (source:

Easy Count aida, is made by Zweigart and simply has lines built into the fabric. This line is when washed away once you’re finished. It is more expensive than standard aida, and doesn’t come in as many colors. To make things a little worse, the lines take up the space of a stitch, and not in between the lines like patterns are marked.

Magic Count Pre Grided Aida

Very similar to Easy Count, DMC make their own, called Magic Count, which has the advantage of being a little easier to see, but holds the DMC price tag to boot.

Erasable Pens

Pen grid cross stitch by pull the other thread (source:
Pen grid cross stitch by pull the other thread (source:

Finally, there are erasable pens. Whilst erasable pens were my first stab at gridding, you soon realize there are a few issues. The first is that they don’t wash out as easy as you’d like, meaning you sometimes need to give your cross stitch a hot bath once you’re finished which does impact the threads, especially metallics. Secondly, much like the pre-printed aida, you can’t stitch on the lines, meaning you have to take up a line of stitching, which could possibly throw your count off.
Once you’ve decided on your gridding technique check out this video from Peacock & Fig on how to grid:



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7 thoughts on “Cross Stitch Gridding Techniques

  1. I have never grinded. But now I want to try it. I have been trying for a week. No success. I bought grid thread but can’t figure out what to do in the center. Some people say 6×4 others 8×2. Some don’t leave a space they just baste in.

    1. Use mylar Sulky thread (you can’t push a needle through it so it can be easily removed when the stitching is complete) for the grid lines. Use up 6, down 4 as the stitch. Center the first 6 up on one corner of the 10×10 stitch square so that 3 stitches are in the neighboring square and 3 are in the square you are working on, then down 4 and up 6. Proceed in this fashion to the end of the grid line in the chart. Do all the 10’s grid lines in this direction. Then switch to the gridlines at right angles. Start the same way: up 6 starting 3 threads outside your chart, down 4, up 6. What will happen is that at the corners of 10×10 boxes, there will be a “+” of mylar floating over the top of the cloth. It’s easy to stitch the squares in the corners.

  2. What I wonder with the fishing wire gridding is: won’t there be any “bumps” in the stitches when crossing the line? As the fishing wire will be thicker than my AIDA (or whatever fabric I will use).
    Or do you remove the line as soon you are about to cross for not having to stitch over it?

    1. Whoa; you want thin fishing wire. 0.5mm or less. Anything thicker and you will get bumps. However, once you wash and iron your work the bumps should mostly disappear anyway.
      Easy Count Guideline is about 0.2mm

  3. Thank you for the tips! I have never done gridding before. I am currently working on a huge project and I wish I had known about gridding.

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