If you are a part of any type of cross stitching group, whether it be online or just a group of friends, you probably have heard of gridding your fabric. Personally, I am a gridding cross stitcher.
The entire purpose to grid your fabric is to help keep count. Before I had ever heard of gridding fabric, I used to always start my projects from the middle (which always led me to make mistakes!) Now that I grid, I start my cross stitch patterns in the top left corner and stitch from left to right, and down as you would read off a page. The grid acts as a map to the pattern. The idea is to have marks or lines every 10 stitches that correspond with the pattern - like a map!
There are three common ways to grid: by stitching, with a marker/pencil, or by using a pre-gridded fabric like Easy Grid Lugana.
Pre-gridded fabric can be found on most cross-stitching fabrics, and in most stitch counts. The obvious up-side to using the pre-gridded fabric is it is all done for you, just cut to size and stitch! The downside would be is this fabric tends to be slightly higher in price than it's solid colour equivalents.
Stitching your Grid
This is a very popular method that I see many cross-stitchers use. Usually done in a bright colour floss, stitchers stitch 10 x 10 grid lines to match the size of their project. It's important to note that regular cotton DMC thread should not be used for this. You'll want to use a silkier (polyester?) smooth thread as these grid stitches are removed as you go, or when you finish the project. I have even seen some cross-stitchers use fishing line for this!
Marking your Grid
This is the gridding method that I use, as I am just most comfortable with it. I almost always stitch in 14ct Aida, but if you prefer stitching on higher counts like 25 or above, this isn't a great method to use as you would need a really fine marker/pencil or the line drawn will be wider than the space between the stitches.
There are all types of washable fabric markers available you can use, but honestly, I just use a regular pencil. BUT I can do this because I have a steam cleaner. When I am finished stitching my projects I put them in a tub of cold water and dish soap (Dawn usually). Afterwards, I let them air dry, then I use my steam cleaner to get any leftover pencil marks or stains. This method has not failed me yet, but I will warn you I have heard of other cross-stitchers not being able to get pencil grids out. I would suggest you test out your washable fabric marker or pencil on a small piece of fabric before gridding your entire project.
Some cross-stitchers grid their fabric using full lines (or stitches). However, there others (like me) who only stitch "markers" every 10 stitches along the borders of our projects. Here is an example from one of my WIPs (work in progress):
If you are just starting out with cross-stitching, I would suggest marking out the full lines to help keep count.
The downside to gridding your own fabric (whichever method you use - with stitches or with a marker/pencil) is that it can take a long time to do, especially for large projects! Although I just see it as part of the hobby!
Do you grid your fabric? Have a neat gridding tip? Let me know in the comments below. Happy Stitching!