Aida cloth showing gridding cross stitch fabric

Gridding your cross stitch fabric is a trend that’s been around for a couple of decades, at least, and it can be a game changer!

This guide will explore why gridding can be a game changer, how to do it, the pros and cons, and what pre-gridded fabric options are available. All to make it easier to get lost in cross stitch ;).

So What is Gridding?

Gridding your cross stitch fabric involves ‘drawing’ a grid on your cross stitch fabric that matches the grid on your pattern.

This is usually done by creating a 10×10 square grid, because patterns have the same size grid: that’s the heavier lines on the pattern.

This helps because the heavy lines/stitched lines help you by dividing the pattern up into smaller areas. You can see more quickly if you’re a couple of stitches out. So you can quickly frog those stitches without the pain of frogging a big area.

Pros of Gridding Cross Stitch Fabric

Enhanced Accuracy

So, gridding helps you reduce the risk of counting errors. It’s like having a map while hiking in the woods; you know exactly where you are so you can work out where to go next.

Easier Pattern Navigation

For large or complex designs, gridding helps you more easily keep track of your position relative to the design. It breaks down a large pattern into smaller, manageable sections, making it less overwhelming.

Saves Time

Though it IS time-consuming, gridding actually saves you time in the long run.

You spend less time fixing mistakes (frogging) and more time enjoying your stitching.

Cons of Gridding Cross Stitch Fabric

Initial Time Investment

Gridding your fabric can be time-consuming, especially for large projects. You need to be patient and precise in setting up your grid before you can start the actual stitching. I started gridding in desperation about 25 years ago, while stitching a unicorn on linen I’d dyed black. (What was I thinking?)It was almost full-coverage before that was really a thing.

Unicorn in forest
this is the design that first had me experiment with gridding.

I kept getting lost and even had my crosses staggered . Instead of XXX in one area I had


meaning half a stitch overlap. Good grief! It is easy to do on evenweaves like linen, I told myself πŸ™‚

But I loved the design so much that I was determined to finish it, even if it strained my eyes!

So, in those pre-YouTube days, I puzzled out that if I stitched the black lines from the pattern onto the fabric with bright pink thread, I’d more easily see where I was up to.

It worked and it took me about 2 years to finish it! Sadly I can’t add a photo here because I ended up giving that piece away. (I also gave away the finish of Theresa’s dragon on the castle. I miss that one every day!)

Potential for Fabric Damage

If not done carefully, gridding can damage your fabric. Using the wrong type of marker can lead to frustrations later on.

Also you need to be careful that you don’t split the girdding thread or it will be difficult to pull out. Either stitch over it completely, or stitch under it completely.

Can Be Visually Cluttered

Some stitchers find that a gridded fabric looks too busy or cluttered, which can detract from the enjoyment of stitching. If this bothers you, you can pull out the grid threads as you complete an area.

How to Grid Cross Stitch Fabric

Materials Needed

Pen/marker Gridding

  • Water-soluble fabric marker or a fine-tipped pen designed for fabrics
  • Ruler or a straight edge – or the light and magnifier you prefer for cross stitching

Thread Gridding

  • Dark-colored thread or fine fishing line – OR for dark coloured fabric, light coloured thread
  • Needle
  • Scissors/snips

Steps to Grid Cross Stitch

Choose Your Gridding Tool

Decide whether to use a marker or thread for gridding. Markers are quicker, while thread can be removed more easily without leaving marks.

Measure Your Grid

Using your ruler, carefully draw lines with your marker to create 10×10 blocks, mirroring the grid on your pattern.

If sewing, sewing along the channel to create the same count as the pattern.

Check Your Work

Make sure your grid lines are clear and accurate to ensure they will be a helpful guide as you stitch. You’re marking in the ‘ditch’ between the threads – the same as the lines on the pattern.

Exploring Pre-Gridded Fabric Options

Pre-gridded fabrics, which come with a faint grid pattern already woven into them, are a convenient alternative – but a bit more spendy than non-gridded fabric.

These fabrics are perfect for beginners or those who want to skip manual gridding. Less time for the fun stitching, right? πŸ™‚

Brands like Zweigart offer a range of pre-gridded fabric options, available in various counts and sizes.

So To Grid, or Not To Grid?

Did we answer the question?

Gridding your cross stitch fabric is a helpful technique that can make it easier to work your way through a cross stitch pattern, particularly for complex patterns.

It does take a significant number of hours to thread grid, a bit of a risk to pen grid, or more money to buy pre-gridded fabris, the benefits of reduced errors and easier pattern navigation can make it well worth the effort.

We thread grid.


Does gridding affect the final appearance of the stitched piece?

No, if done correctly. Whether you use a washable marker or soluble thread, it should not impact the finished look after cleaning. We don’t use markers, we only thread grid.

Can I grid any type of fabric?

Yes. For lighter fabric, use a thread or fishing line that’s darker than the fabric colour. For dark colours, like my gridded black Aida above, I used white sewing thread. Choose your gridding tool accordingly.

How do I remove the grid lines after I’m done stitching?

For marker gridding, follow the marker’s instructions. For thread gridding, gently pull out the threads. You might need to cut into some threads – try to do it from the back and the edges, and not cut any threads inΒ  your design. Sometimes I need to use a needle to coax some threads out. If you’re careful to not split your gridding threads when you’re stitching, the grid threads should pull out really easily.

Where can I buy pre-gridded fabric?

Most craft stores and online retailers that specialize in cross stitch supplies offer pre-gridded fabric.

By mastering gridding, you can take your cross stitching to the next level.

In our next post, we share our top tips for being successful when gridding cross stitch fabric.

Our Free Printable Cross Stitch Ruler

Our Free Printable Cross Stitch Ruler

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