Fabric Counts Explained

Oct 12, 2020

If you are new to cross stitching, you might have just picked up a kit and used the fabric that came with it, chances are it was a 14ct fabric. Maybe you have stuck to 14ct because that is what you are used to. Today, I am going to explain the different fabric counts to get you more comfortable with the idea of using different stitch count sizes. If you are unfamiliar with the different types of fabrics, I suggest you check out my blog "Cross Stitch Fabrics Explained" before you read on here.

Stitch count refers to fibre count, and fibre count is the number of holes per inch in the fabric. The number of holes per inch is the stitch count. For example, a 14ct fabric has 14 holes per inch, so you can fit 14 X stitches per inch. A 22ct fabric has 22 stitches per inch, however these stitches are smaller than the stitches on a 14ct because the higher the count the smaller the stitches.

Many (dare I say most) cross stitch patterns are designed for 14ct fabric, but this doesn't mean you have to stitch on 14ct fabric. Any pattern can be converted to be stitched on a different fabric count than it calls for, it just changes the size of the completed piece.

There are a ton of online fabric calculators out there to help you figure out the size of fabric you will need depending on the stitch count. But just for your reference I will explain the math behind it...

Let's say you have a pattern that is 84 stitches X 84 stitches. To figure out the fabric size needed, you divide the number of stitches by the stitch count. So...

84 ÷ 14 = 6" (final piece will be 6" x 6")

84 ÷ 16 = 5.25" (final piece will be 5.25" x 5.25")

84 ÷ 18 = 4.66" (final piece will be 4.66" x 4.66")

84 ÷ 20 = 4.2" (final piece will be 4.2" x 4.2")

As you can see, the higher the stitch count, the smaller your finished piece will be. 

Do you have a favourite stitch count? Let me know in the comments!