I personally love black aida, it can really make a piece sing, however, I’ve also heard of people scared to use dark and black aida due to the issues involved. Ad while I understand their point of view, dark aida really isn’t to be feared. In fact, with some really simple changes, you can make stitching on black aida a breeze!
Light it up like crazy
The first thing that everyone says when it comes to dark aida is light it up. I would personally suggest stitching somewhere so well lit up that it doesn’t matter if you have dark aida or not, but investing in a really reliable and bright light can work wonders for your work. If you’re interested we looked at if daylight bulbs are really worth it and we even mention the use of dark aidas.
But people often ask me about how they should light their area. I’ve regularly heard about lighting under your work as well as on top, and whilst I understand why, I think that this isn’t the way to go. I would light from the top only.
Cover your lap with white (or use a lightbox)
And here’s why I think you should light from the top only; you should light from the bottom differently. Instead of using a traditional bulb, you should either use a large white sheet to reflect light or, my personal favorite; a tracing pad. You can pick tracing pads up from amazon for a dozen dollars, and they’re super light and thin so you can rest them on your lap, or table without issue. The advantage is that unlike standard light, a tracing pad both lights and gives a white backdrop at the same time, meaning you can see right through those holes.
I used to hate the idea of gridding, and honestly, I’m not too sure why, but for an average project, I still don’t grid. But that isn’t the case for dark fabrics. For dark fabrics I ALWAYS grid. Half the battle with a dark fabric is the effort of counting, and with a simple grid, you can make it so much easier.
Check out our cross stitch gridding techniques if you’re new like I was!
You probably frame your work when you stitch, however with dark aida it becomes super important. You want a nice frame that will stretch out the fabric as tight as possible to ensure the holes in the aida open up so you can see through them. You can pick any of the best cross stitch frames out there, but make sure the fabric is really tight.
With all this extra light, gridding, framing, and whatnot it’s no surprise that looking at dark aida is a strain on the eyes. We would suggest taking regular breaks anyway (we’re big fans of the 20-20-20 rule), but there is something else you can do to help your eyesight; magnification. Put simply, the larger the aida, the clearer it is. As simple as that!
Use your needle to ‘feel’ the fabric
When stitching, I like to watch TV, as I’m sure many of you do too, but by doing this I accidentally developed a skill I didn’t even know was a possibility; feeling the fabric. I personally think this explanation from StitchedModern is the best at describing it, so I’ll leave it to them:
If you slowly and lightly drag the tip of your needle over the fabric, it will dip where there are holes. Do this before you take a stitch and you are more likely to find the hole instead of piercing the fabric fibers. This takes a little practice, but eventually, you get the feel of it.
A simple, but truly effective method for dealing with dark aida…