Black aida with threads 3

Stitching on black Aida can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be!

The deep, dark fabric brings out vibrant colors and gives your designs a dramatic backdrop.

But it’s got a tricky reputation – some people think it’s too hard to see the holes, and easier to lose your place, or make more mistakes. So you’ll waste time frogging your work and might even get so frustrated that you toss it into a bag for a ‘one day’ stitch.

I promise you, as someone who has often stitched on black Aida and black linen, there are some easy changes you can make to eliminate all the challenges. It is very possible to love stitching anything on these gorgeous fabrics.

Challenges of Stitching on Black Aida or Linen

It can be tough to see the holes where your needle needs to go which can lead to mistakes: if you can’t see the holes clearly, you might misplace stitches or get off pattern.

1. Improve Visibility

These are the first tips you should use. I first used the white cloth trick with my first black aida project and it worked a treat!

Black aida with a serged/overlocked edge stitching on black aida
i stitched my great whales pattern on black aida.
  1. White background: Place a white cloth or a sheet of paper underneath your fabric – probably on  your lap – so you can see the white through the Aida holes. This might be all you need to do. But if you need more, read on.
  2. Light box or pad: Some stitchers swear by a light box. You can get slim ones that fit comfortably on your lap. Personally I found it made me squinting so I use mine for tracing stuff only these days. But you might find it useful.
  3. Use good lighting: A bright, adjustable light source can make a world of difference when stitching on black Aida. A daylight lamp or one with a flexible arm that you can position just right will do the trick. I use a magnifying light and it’s awesome. Some people use magnifying glasses that also light up.
  4. Magnification: A magnifying glass or magnifying lamp can bring those tiny holes into sharper focus, reducing mistakes.

2. Grid to Make Counting Easier

Counting threads on black Aida can feel like counting stars in a night sky. Gridding means you’re counting in 10s only, so it’s much easier to keep your place.

Read our post on Gridding for more info.

3. Reduce Eye Strain

When we get lost in cross stitch, hours can pass in what seems like minutes. Eyes can get tired when you’re focusing closely, and more so when you’re stitching on black, even with a light background. It can cause headaches and tiredness and make you less likely to stitch.

Which is the opposite of what hobbies should do.

So to reduce the risk of eye strain:

  • Take regular breaks: No, that doesn’t mean step away from the cross stitch. Phew. It does mean use 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away.
  • Proper lighting: You’re using good lighting anyway, right? Soft even light is better than harsh, direct light.
  • Stay hydrated: Believe it or not, staying well-hydrated can help reduce overall body fatigue, including eye strain. So bring that huge water bottle with you to your stitching nook!
  • Use A Needle Threader: A good needle threader can help reduce eye strain – one less way to strain the eyes :)
  • High Contrast Needles: Black Pony Needles are brilliant but when stitching on black, a silver or gold needle will be your friend

What Do You Think?

These techniques are simple, doable and very economical. Using one or more can make stitching on black Aida much more enjoyable and less stressful.

Stitching on black Aida is a challenge worth taking on. But don’t let it stop you. The end result of a vibrant, eye-catching masterpiece is well worth the effort.


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Our Free Printable Cross Stitch Ruler

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