Introduction to Cross Stitch Fabrics

Three colours of cross stitching fabric arranged nicely on a brown, wooden table top

Aida, Lugana, Linen and Linda

We get a lot of questions regarding the difference between the main types of fabrics that are specifically designed for cross stitch and other needle arts. 

All fabrics designed for cross stitch are “evenweave”, which means that there are the same number of threads in one direction as the other.  If you stitch a block ten stitches across and ten stitches down, it will be square.  Sometimes cheaper and off-brand fabrics turn out to be not evenweaves, so beware!  We sell only genuine Zweigart fabrics.

The “count” of a fabric refers to the size of the stitches, specifically, the number of threads or holes in an inch. It should be the same number in each direction.  An 18 count Aida, for example, will have 18 holes or threads per inch.  (It is said that with Aida, it is the holes that are counted, and with other fabrics, it is the threads, but to me that is a distinction without a difference, so we won’t worry about that.)

Here are the main differences between the big players in cross stitch fabrics:


This is the go-to fabric for millions of stitchers, the place where most stitchers get started, and probably the biggest seller.  Aida is a 100% cotton fabric, woven so that holes between the threads are easy to get a needle into.  There are multiple “strings” making up the threads going each way, so that it is easy to pierce with a needle to do fractional stitches.  It comes in 8 count, 11, 14, 16, 18 and 22 count, which is also called “hardanger”, used for cut-thread work as well as regular stitching.  It is easy to use, with a good firmness of texture so the threads are not easily pulled out of place.  It comes in many, many colours.

(Click Here to see the Aida)


Lugana is made of 50% cotton and 50% viscose, which is a manmade thread made from cotton fibres.  Each thread of the weave is a single round thread, so it is near impossible to pierce the thread to do partial stitches.  This is why Lugana is often stitched “over two” meaning one hole is skipped for each stitch, and the stitch goes over two threads instead of one. (This affects the size of the finished project, so make sure you calculate your fabric needs correctly, or ask us for help! We’re happy to work that out for you!)  However, stitching over one is perfectly acceptable if your pattern is whole stitches only.  Lugana can be thought of as a kind of “half way” between linen and aida, as it has the even threads and texture of aida, but the smooth finish of linen. Many stitchers find Lugana easier to work on than linen, as the threads are all the same thickness, and are not so easy to pull out of place, but it is a much heavier fabric overall. It comes in 20 count, 25, 28 and 32 count, in a variety of colours.

(Click here to see the Luganas)


Linen is a fine fabric made of 100% flax fibers.  It is woven with single-thread strands, and with some variation in the thickness of the threads.  The weave also includes “slubs”, or chunky bits of thread.  It is often stitched over two threads, as is Lugana.  The finish on unstitched areas is very beautiful.  People who love linen, really love it!  And the reasons they love it are the same reasons that people who don’t like linen, don’t like it.  It is a more delicate fabric, especially the lower counts, and care must be taken to use gentle tension so as not to pull the threads out of alignment.  It comes in 25, 28 and 32 count in lots of colours.  With lower counts, the weave is open enough that you can see through it, so if your pattern leaves open areas (ie is not full coverage), then it will need to be mounted on another fabric for framing.  Linen tends to be more expensive than Lugana.

(Click here to the the Linens)

Quaker linen

This is a different type of linen, and is a flax/cotton blend.  It is a little more substantial than regular linen, with fewer variations in thread thickness and few slubs.  It is available in White and Antique White.


Linda is a 100% cotton fabric, like Aida, woven with single-thread strands, like Lugana, so it’s a kind of cross-over fabric.  It is very soft in the hands, and gives a beautiful finish on unstitched areas. It is a 27 count fabric, so it can be stitched over one or two threads.  It is only available in White, but we have many beautiful Hand-Dyed Linda pieces to choose from.  The DMC brand version of this fabric was called Monaco, but it has been discontinued. Linda is the Zweigart brand. 

(Click here to see the Linda)

There are other fabrics that are less commonly used, but still interesting, such as Monk’s cloth, Fiddler’s cloth, and Waste Canvas. All have their uses, and their fans, but these ones I have written about are the most common.

If you have any questions, or need help choosing or calculating sizes, just ask! We’re here to help you! 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Most orders ship in 3-4 days or less!