The vast majority of my patterns recommend 32ct linen. That’s a bit like Marmite, I guess: you either love it or you hate it!
Before I go any further, I must say:
You should NEVER stitch a design on fabric you hate, just because that’s what it says on the pattern… The greatest advantage of stitching from a pattern (rather than a kit) is that YOU get to decide what you stitch with! Feel free to use that power when you feel like it!!
OK, so no need to panic: the point of this article isn’t to force you to accept that 32ct linen is THE solution (thank goodness for that!), it’s just to explain WHY I recommend 32ct linen, and to give you a few tips if you prefer to use a different fabric.
1. linen looks (& feels) better
Haha, I know – it’s very much a personal preference! Don’t worry, you don’t have to agree!
None of my designs are full coverage, and most of them show a lot of fabric in between the motifs. So I like the fabric to complement the design. Personally, I find that:
- aida is too coarse to the touch, and that the stitches don’t show as well against it as the weave of the fabric is so obvious to the eye. It’s an unecessary visual distraction.
- evenweave is a vast improvement, but it lacks the lovely sheen of linen.
- with linen, the weaved threads blend in better, the stitched motifs pop more, and the texture of the fabric gives instant sophistication to the design.
Learn more about these different fabrics HERE
2. the stitch coverage is better on 32ct
That means you can’t see the fabric through the stitches as much as you do on a lower count fabric (learn more about fabric count HERE), and that’s particularly important when stitching with contrasting threads.
What to do if you want good coverage on a lower fabric count?
- If you’re working on light fabric: increase the number of strands used for the darker colours – so if the pattern calls for 2 strands, try using 3 strands instead.
- If you’re working on dark fabric: increase the number of strands used for the lighter colours
3. backstitch is easier on linen
I hardly ever use fractional cross-stitch, but I do use a lot of fractional backstitch to achieve the lovely delicate motif outlines in my designs. These are much easier to stitch on linen (or eveweave) than they are on aida.
What to do if you want to stitch fractional backstitch on aida?
- Be picky when you select your aida. Some brands can be very stiff. Avoid them. Invest in a little hoop to hold your fabric (they’re very cheap) and opt for some soft aida. You’ll find it much easier to poke the needle through a block. If you look closely, you’ll see that each block is made of 4 horizontal strands and 4 vertical strands woven together. You need to poke the needle between the 2 middle strands, either on the side of a block or (rarely, but it can happen) right in the middle of a block.
- Use a sharp needle. Cross-stitch needles are blunt, which is great for cross-stitch. But if you’re having trouble getting through a block of your aida fabric, a sharp needle will help tremendously!
4. linen makes assembling easier
As already mentioned, aida is quite coarse. Linen is much thinner and bends better, which makes it much easier to assemble biscornus or any other sort of shape. The pointy tip of scissor cases can be particularly tricky to finish neatly on aida. It’s manageable, but it’s not much fun.
Evenweave is better than aida, but it’s more “springy” than linen, which makes it more fidly too. Linen is definitely the nicer fabric (and by a mile), when it comes to the finishing stage.
So that’s why my patterns mostly recommend 32 count linen.
But of course they can be stitched on different fabric. The most important thing is that you enjoy stitching your project – so make some adjustments, and use the fabric of your choice.