Cross Stitch

The Different Cross Stitch Fabric Types

There are 3 main cross stitch fabric types. Aida, linen, and even weave. All three fabrics have pros and cons, and many stitchers may wonder which fabric they should chose for a specific project. In this post I’m going over the different cross stitch fabric types, what they are made of, and how to select the best one for your next WIP.

You should always consider the posts I write to be advice only. If you want to try stitching “over one” on Aida (essentially stitching half a square), have fun! Some stitchers have limited budgets, others can afford to splurge on their craft. Feel free to substitute fabrics depending on what’s in your stash or what’s on sale. Basically, stitch what you like.

different types of cross stitch fabric aida
A selection of some of my unstitched Aida. I have 11 count, 14 count, 16 count, and 18 count in this picture.


Aida is often the first fabric stitchers work with. It has a larger weave which makes it easier for beginners or people with vision problems. You can most frequently find aida in 14 and 16 count fabrics, with the count referring to how many stitches will fit in 1 inch. That being said, I have purchased 11 count, 12 count, 13 count, and even 7 count aida.

Most of the small numbered pieces were purchased in Japan where the average age of cross stitchers is probably older than most countries. 7 count aida is twice as large as 14 count, so even stitchers who need strong reading glasses won’t have as many issues working the fabric.

Aida is usually made with 100% cotton and was (probably) invented by Zweitgart in the late 1800’s, though some debate whether they were the first to produce the cloth. Now companies world wide make the fabric.

While white and natural colors are most common, you can find hand-dyed and printed pieces in a wide variety of styles. Some have opalescent fibers woven in for a shimmery effect. I have added some photos from my stash showing some of the different colors and styles I’ve collected over the years.

How Do You Pronounce Aida?

A subject of great debate, you can pronounce aida as either “AY-da” or “Eye-EE-da”. I prefer the latter pronunciation as some speculate the fabric was named after Verdi’s famous opera Aida which was released in 1871, about the same time the first aida fabric debuted too.


Linen cross stitch fabric from my collection. 28 count, 32 count, and 36 count are shown.
Some of the linen in my collection. I have 28 count, 32 count, and 36 count in this picture

The OG for cross stitchers the world over, linen has been used for centuries worldwide. This fabric is woven, so as long as the weave is fairly even, it’s a great choice for a cross stitch fabric type.

Linen is made from the fibers of the flax plant. The end result is a strong, quick drying fabric with a natural criss-cross weave.

Because of the weave, linen fibers are packed much closer together than aida. Thanks to standardization, we now tend to have exactly double as many linen stitches in one inch as aida. This is why you’ll often see patterns with 14/28 count for example. 28 linen stitches fit in one inch, and so do 14 stitches of aida.

Since linen stitches are smaller, cross stitchers usually stitch over 2 on linen. In many older samplers, you’ll see most of the design stitched over 2 while letters are stitched over one. This petit point allows for more detail to be fit in a small area.

Linen does have a tendency to wrinkle, so be sure you have an iron on hand for finishing.

It’s also a very unique fabric with naturally occurring irregular threads called “slubs”. These thicker sections are present on almost all linens and are completely normal. I highlighted some slubs on a piece below so you can see what I mean.

slub threads highlighted in a piece of linen cross stitch fabric
Slub threads show just above or to the left of the red lines in the picture above. They add a unique charm to linen pieces.


2 colors of 28 count even weave cross stitch fabric
2 natural colors of even weave fabric for cross stitch

Lastly, we have even weave fabrics that aren’t strictly linen or aida. Even weave fabrics are made from many different materials. I have some that are 100% cotton, others are a mixture of cotton and linen, and yet more use synthetic fabrics as well.

Even weave fabrics are kind of a sweet spot between aida and linen. You get the uniform size of aida, along with the smaller weaver of linen. Like linen, you are often stitching over 2 strands of the even weave, so your stitches stand out a bit from the fabric.

Unfortunately there tends to be a smaller selection of even weave available from most suppliers, but it’s a great option for stitching on. I find it to be a bit easier than linen but it still gives that traditional look and you can easily add other stitch types to an even weave.

Which Cross Stitch Fabric Type is Best for My Project?

That depends on many factors. Are you a beginner to cross stitch? You’ll probably find aida to be the easiest fabric to work with on your first project or two. I also don’t recommend using a dark colored fabric right away as it can be difficult to stitch on them.

If you want a traditional look, then stitching on linen is a good option. Your stitches will stand out since they will be twice as big as the fabric squares. Linen is also a good choice for projects with a variety of stitches. It can be tricky to work petit point, eyelets, or other specialty stitches on aida. However, linen can be more difficult to stitch evenly compared to aida.

Linen is known not to shrink and is very durable. If you have a piece you want to use in daily life (like a pillow or book cover), it will do the trick. If your finished piece will need to be washed frequently, aida might be better to avoid the wrinkles that come with linen.

Even weave is what I’ve been gravitating to recently. It’s a bit easier to work with than linen but still offers that smooth look. I do find many specialty fabrics tend to be aida or linen only however. Even weaves can come in blends that include synthetic fabrics like rayon which can shrink or don’t wash well, so be sure to check what your even weave is made of when you buy it. If you’re going to frame your finished piece this isn’t as important.

So there’s my breakdown of the different cross stitch fabric types and some photos to help you out. Honestly I recommend starting out with aida and then trying out everything. The fabric you chose for a project can change the finished look a lot, so it’s worth seeing what you like and how you enjoy stitching on them.

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