How to Increase or Decrease Your Cross Stitch Pattern and Cloth Size

Woman with glasses cross stitching embroidering fabric

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How many times have you started a project and didn't have the exact size Aida cloth that was required? Do you go about your stitching haphazardly only to end up with either not enough fabric for the piece or on the other hand, way too much leftover? Either way, your piece can be ruined.

Before starting a project, you can figure out exactly how much fabric you need with a simple mathematical equation. Below is a little guideline to the different cloth sizes, their meaning and what size your finished project should be.


For the following guidelines and examples, Aida cloth will be the fabric of choice. There are other types of fabric out there to try. Aida is the fabric that many patterns are based on and many designers use. If you enjoy international patterns, they may use different types of linen. This is another reason this equation is so important. You can use the formula to go back and forth between small linen and larger Aida cloth. Although there are a wide variety of fabrics, Aida is the go-to standard.

Aida does come in a variety of sizes if you want to try something smaller or bigger.  It also comes in a variety of textures. It is the most common cross stitch fabric and can mostly be found in size 14.

What exactly does 14-count mean? The "count" refers to the number of stitches in an inch. So, 14 count means 14 stitches per inch. The higher the number, the smaller the fabric.  If you have something that is 12 count, you will have 12 stitches per inch and thus fairly large whereas an 18 count would be smaller. A linen fabric would be something around 28 to 30 count. 

Increasing and Decreasing Size Count

Count the number of stitches across and then divide it by the thread count of your fabric. Do the same down and you have the size of your finished project.


Your stitch count across is 200 and you have 18 count Aida cloth so 200/18 is 11.11 (you should round it up to 12)

Your stitch count down is 160, so again 160/18 is 8.88 (round up to 9).

Your finished piece with 18 count fabric would be 12 inches across and 9 inches down.

Note: Don't forget to add a few inches so you can frame your piece when it is done. The formula above is just for the finished project alone and does not allow for seam allowance. You should add about an inch for seam allowance. If you do not do this, you might run into problems framing or converting the project into a pillow or wearable piece.