Cross stitching on linen fabric
Linen is one of the most beautiful needlework fabrics. Some stitchers use it exclusively for all their projects. Here is some information to help you select the right fabric.
The beauty of linen is that it is a fiber that keeps its natural look. The fibers used for weaving have little irregularities that reinforce this natural feel. The most popular color for linen is "Natural raw linen", the color of the fiber before it is processed and dyed.
Natural raw linen, color and washing:
When linen is dyed, colors are usually colorfast and will resist when exposed to light or when beeing washed. By contrast, the color of a piece of natural raw linen will usuallly be lighter after washing.
Tip: If you plan on stitching on raw linen and laundering your stitched piece, especially for monochromes, make sure you have enough contrast between the color of the thread used and the background fabric. You might want to test washing a little piece first to see the impact of washing on the color of the fabric.
It is also important to know that linen usually can shrink a little (up to 5%) when being washed. A good quality needlework linen will however keep a square weave (meaning your crosses stay nice and square even if your fabric shrinks a little).
Tip: If making a pillow case, cushion cover or any item that requires a fixed dimension, take into account a little shrinkage. We do not recommend washing the fabric first because the special finish that is applied to the fabric would wash away (the finish gives the fabric it a little stiffness that helps with the stitching).
How to cross stitch on linen fabric:
Cross stitching over two threads
As opposed to cross stitching on Aida, cross stitching on any evenweave fabric, such as linen, requires counting the threads that compose the weave. The most common technique used for cross stitch is "stitching over 2 threads", meaning the needle will cross over two warp and two weft threads, in a diagonal.
In this picture the 2 warp and 2 weft threads have been highlighted in red. To complete a cross stitch, pass the needle over 2 threads in a diagonal line.
Cross stitching "over one thread":
For even finer stitching (and for stitchers with excellent eyesight!) the technique of "stitching over one thread" is often used. The needle will only pass over one weft and one warp thread. Note however that in this case it is best to complete one cross stitch at a time (not using the back and forth technique / / / then ). "Stitching over one thread" is very popular among some experienced stitchers (and designers too) who enjoy the challenge and the beautiful stitched pieces. The ultimate challenge being to stitch on the finest linen fabrics available.
When stitching "over one thread" the size of the finished piece will be four times smaller than when stitching "over two threads".
What size will my finished piece be?
|Alternative: Linen Aida fabric:
If you love the color of linen but feel more comfortable stitching on Aida, Linen Aida is a good option.
Linen Aida is designed to make cross stitching on linen extra-easy, either 100% linen, or mix of linen, cotton and viscose, it replicates the look and color of natural raw linen. The weave is similar to any Aida fabric, with a perfectly square block of fabric with 4 holes at each corner guiding the cross stitching.
Our designers have tested these fabrics for you. While the Aida weave will show in unstitched areas, the background color of the finished piece wi retain its natural feel. The pieces below, were stitched using DMC Linen Aida.
Photo shows examples of designs stitched on 14ct DMC Linen Aida in color 842
Aida linen is available from both:
- Zweigart (ref 3390-53) in 14ct and (ref 3419-53) in 18ct. Color: natural/raw. 100% linen, precut or by the yard.
- DMC (Charles Craft) 80% cotton, 20% Aida
If you are stitching "over two threads" on 28ct linen fabric, your stitched piece will be the same size as if it had been stitched on 14ct Aida.
On 28 ct, there are exactly 28 threads in one inch.
In one inch, stitching over two threads, you can complete 14 stitches (similar to 14ct Aida).
By contrast, if you are stitching "over one thread," you will complete 28 cross stitches in one inch. The same design will be 4 times smaller (half the lenght and half the width).
The finished piece will be exactly the same size whether you are stitching
on 28ct linen over two threads or 14ct Linen Aida.
To calculate the finished size of your project, depending on the fabric count and technique used (over two threads, over one thread), use our fabric calculator. We also provide the calculator for any of the patterns offerred on our website (in the information section of each pattern). Click on "view size in my choice of fabric" to use it.
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