How To Cross Stitch – Part Three: Fabric Size and Chart Reading
In this post, I will be going over how to calculate the size of fabric you need for a cross stitch project, and I will be explaining how to read a cross stitch chart.
If you need to know more about the types of cross stitch fabric, check out How To Cross Stitch - Part One: Fabric and Threading a Needle, or if you need to know more about making the x's for a cross stitch pattern, check out How to Cross Stitch - Part Two: Creating x's.
Calculating fabric size
To calculate how much fabric you need for a cross stitch project, you first need to know how many stitches are in the pattern, both vertically and horizontally. Hopefully the pattern you have says that somewhere, otherwise you will need to count the stitches on the pattern (use the thicker lines on the pattern, usually every ten stitches, to help you if the pattern has them).
After you know the stitch count, use the following equation:
stitch count / fabric count (number of x's you can stitch in one inch) = length in inches
Use this equation to figure out the height and width of you pattern. Then add six inches to both measurements because you want three inches of fabric on each side of your stitched pattern that has no stitching. This blank area is for framing or finishing purposes. If you know you don't need that much room on the sides of the pattern to finish it, then you can reduce the size of fabric you need, but if you are going to take the piece to a professional finisher or framer, give them room to work with and leave them three inches on each side of the pattern.
When you start your cross stitch, start the middle of the pattern in the middle of the piece of fabric, or start a corner of the pattern three inches vertically and horizontally from a corner. Both these will make sure your pattern is centered on the fabric and leaves room on all edges for finishing.
If you use the above equation for linen, take into account whether you are stitching over two threads of linen or one thread of linen. If you are stitching over two threads, divided the count of your fabric by two (because you are fitting half the number of stitches in an inch than if you stitched over one thread). For example, if you are stitching over two threads on 32 count linen, enter 16 into the equation for fabric count (32/2 = 16).
If you have a pattern that is 150 stitches wide by 80 inches tall that you will be stitching on 18 count aida:
The pattern width: 150 (stitch count)/18 (fabric count) = 8.33 inches wide
The pattern height: 80 (stitch count)/18 (fabric count) = 4.44 inches tall
If you have a pattern that is 200 stitches wide by 180 inches tall that you will be stitching on 28 count linen over two threads:
The pattern width: 200 (stitch count)/14 (fabric count divided by two since we are stitching over two threads) = 14.29 inches wide
The pattern height: 180 (stitch count)/14 (fabric count divided by two since we are stitching over two threads) = 12.86 inches tall
Reading a cross stitch chart
We are going to cover the basics of reading a cross stitch chart. A chart, unless it is intended that you pick the colors, will have a color chart. The color chart lets you know what symbol (or color block on some charts) a certain color is associated with in a pattern. In the example image below, the color chart is telling us that each blue triangle with a right angle at the top right corner represents a stitch of DMC 798 in the pattern.
The image below is a small sample of a cross stitch chart. Each symbol represents a stitched x on your fabric. Each different symbol represents a different color. The thick, colored lines (green in this case) represent back stitching.
When you back stitch, it is recommended to use one thread of embroidery floss, or one less thread than the number of threads used to stitch the x's. Some charts will tell you, otherwise it is up to you to decide how many threads you want to use for back stitching. Back stitching is basically copying the lines you see on the chart onto your stitching by coming up and going down in holes in the fabric. Do that by paying attention to the spots on the chart where the back stitch lines intersect with corners of the boxes that represent x's. It is recommended to do back stitching once all cross stitch x's are completed.
The photo of stitches (below) shows what the section of the cross stitch chart (above) looks like when it is stitched.
You now should be all set to start your first basic cross stitch (we didn't go over any specialty stitches - which aren't super common). If you are completely new to cross stitch, be sure to check out my How To Cross Stitch - Part One: Fabric and Threading a Needle post and my How to Cross Stitch - Part Two: Creating x's post.
As always, thanks for reading!
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