Aida fabric, also called cross stitch fabric (or mattee cloth in India), comes in different colors and sizes. It is used predominately as a base for cross stitch embroidery.
It is a loosely woven even weave fabric that resembles a mesh. It is woven in such a way that it forms perfect squares. There are gaps or holes in the corners of these squares. The stitches are usually placed in these gaps.
Meaning of Aida fabric number
Aida fabric is usually denoted by numbers like 10, 11, 14, 20 etc.
Larger the number, smaller the squares.
A number 10 means that there are 10 squares in one linear inch.
A number 20 means that there are 20 squares in one linear inch.
So in a number 20 fabric, the length of the sides of the squares will be half the length of the sides of squares in number 10 fabric.
Smaller the number, larger the squares. Larger the number, smaller the squares.
Someone new to embroidery might find larger squares easier to work with.
If the embroidery has to be done on darker fabric especially black, it is better to choose a piece with smaller Aida number (meaning larger square)
How to calculate the size of the finished Cross Stitch pattern?
The pattern and the Aida fabric number will decide the size of the finished product.
For example, if we use the same pattern but aida cloth with different numbers.
If a square design requires 100 stitches * 100 stitches, the final design will be
In size 10 cloth: 10 inches * 10 inches
In size 20 cloth: 5 inches * 5 inches.
So if you choose a size 20 cloth, your pattern will be very small.
If a rectangle pattern requires 100 stitches * 60 stitches, the final design will be
In size 10 cloth: 10 inches * 6 inches
In size 20 cloth: 5 inches * 3 inches.
In the cross stitch birth sampler that I made for my daughter (shown below), note how the squares are much smaller than the samples shown above.
This pattern turned out to be smaller than I expected and that was when I decided to pay more attention to the aida fabric number. I also did not have enough space around the border. So I had to add a simple border rather than the elaborate floral border that I had planned at first.
Cross stitch kits come with fabric, pattern, instructions and the required embroidery floss/ thread. But many times the fabric size will be too small. Sometimes it will become difficult to frame the project. If you really like a pattern, get your own aida fabric with a lower number (bigger squares) so the pattern will be bigger.
Also note that if you are going to make the pattern bigger, you will also need more thread. So you will have to buy extra embroidery floss for the bigger project.
In the instruction paper that comes with the kit, you will be able to find the floss color chart. It will usually have the color of that floss in brands like Anchor and DMC. You can ask for that particular colored floss in craft stores.
- Aida fabric is usually evenly weaved meaning it has squares (4 equal sides). However there are some shops that sell Aida with a rectangle weave pattern. A cousin noticed this only after she had almost finished the project. The picture came out distorted and she had to redo the whole thing again.
- Aida fabric’s edges fray. So hem it or use painter’s tape to seal the edges before starting the project.
- Leaving a large border around the embroidery area is a good idea. It will give you the freedom to choose the size of the mat when framing your work.