In this post, I am going to share what evenweave is, how to cross stitch on evenweave and whether you should choose aida or evenweave for your cross stitch!
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I started getting really into cross stitch in 2014 and back then I didn’t really know what evenweave was or how it was different to aida.
But ever since starting, all that I heard was how much harder it was to stitch on evenweave than aida. But your design will look better stitched on evenweave.
I’m going to say both of those things are wrong.
Evenweave is slightly more difficult than aida, but not so much more that I think you should be put off it like I was. In fact, for some designs, evenweave might be easier than aida.
And I don’t think a finished design looks much better on evenweave compared to aida either. You can definitely get a lot more detail using evenweave but I think the only big difference is that the holes are less obvious in evenweave. This makes the finished piece look a little neater around the edge where there are no stitches.
But the actual stitches don’t look all that different to me. Of course, this is just my opinion but I wanted to share it in case you were feeling like you’re less of a stitcher because you don’t use evenweave or feeling like you have to use evenweave. You don’t! And for me, aida is just as nice to stitch on.
But let’s get into what it is and how to stitch on evenweave!
What is evenweave?
Evenweave is slightly similar and also totally different to aida.
On the photo below you can see that aida has bunches of 4 threads really close together woven in and out of each other to create an even grid with holes in. Evenweave is just single strands of thread woven in and out to create a grid with holes (you can see this on the second photo).
There’s less space between the holes on evenweave meaning that there are more holes per inch so it comes in higher counts than aida. I’ll dive into that a bit more soon.
Aida is heavier than evenweave too and stiffer which is why you might find it easier to stitch on. It stays put a lot more than evenweave!
I think it’s worth mentioning the difference between evenweave and linen now. Yes, there is a difference even though people use them interchangeably (ahem me before I learned this).
Evenweave is woven so the holes are evenly spaced, hence “even” weave … so obvious that you miss it right? Or was that just me?
Linen, on the other hand, is a natural fabric and the holes on this fabric might not be exactly evenly spaced and it may have some tiny irregularities. Just worth mentioning in case you were wondering. Other than that it is pretty much the same as evenweave and you do stitch on it the same way too.
The count of evenweave
You may be aware that the most common count for aida is 14 meaning that there are 14 holes per inch of the aida. Other popular counts are 16 and 18.
For evenweave, there are many more holes per inch of the fabric. But you can convert from aida to evenweave by just doubling the count.
So if a pattern calls for 14 count aida and you want to stitch it on evenweave then use 28 count evenweave and the design will be the same size. Same goes for 16 count aida and 32 count evenweave etc.
There is a small exception to this which I will get into alter.
Before you start stitching
Before you get stitching on evenweave there are a few things you might want to do/get together.
Seal/secure the edges of your evenweave
When stitching on evenweave I recommend sealing your edges somehow. Evenweave frays a lot more easily than aida because it is only 1 strand that needs to come loose rather than the 4 in aida.
You can do this with a sewing machine, masking tape or do what I do and use Fray Check*. You just dab this along the edges of your fabric and it will stop it fraying. I go into more detail on how to do this in my post the 6 things to do before you start stitching.
Buy a Q-snap
If you have nosed around my blog already you will know that I love using a hoop to hold my fabric while I’m stitching. However, with evenweave, you might be better with a Q-snap.
I have been using a hoop to stitch a project with evenweave and it just doesn’t hold it as well as it holds aida so I think I’m going to get myself a Q-snap! Hoops can also distort the weave a little too. They don’t really do this with aida because it is stiffer but as evenweave is much softer that can happen.
Get your thread ready
The number of threads from your floss that you use are the same as aida. So this will more often than not be 2 strands from the 6 that come stranded embroidery thread. However, for this tutorial, I used a lower count of evenweave (25) and 3 strands of thread so that you could see the holes and where the thread was going more clearly.
How to cross stitch on evenweave
Let’s start with how you stitch on aida. You go from one hole diagonally across to the next hole and back up and diagonally across again. So you have a square with 4 holes, one in each corner, that you stitch through (see photo above).
With evenweave, you still have that square shape but there are 9 holes in the square. 3 across the top and bottom, 3 down the sides and 1 in the middle.
People use the term “stitching over 2” when stitching on evenweave; this means that when you are making your diagonal stitch there are 2 woven threads underneath that stitch. How I like to use this term is that you are stitching every 2 holes, missing one out each time.
First, you need to decide if you are going to stitch whole stitches or do “railroad” – half stitches one way the come back over the other. In my opinion, I found it more difficult to railroad them and prefer to do whole stitches on evenweave. It was easier to see where to go next with a whole cross stitch.
So, you start in one corner like with aida (I start bottom right) then instead of jumping to the hole directly diagonally across you miss it and go into the next diagonal along (another corner of the square, for me top left).
Next, you will come up in another corner and for me, this is bottom left. So remember to miss a hole and come up at that bottom corner. This should be in line with where you started.
Then go back down diagonally into that last corner, for me top right. So you miss that middle hole again and go down to complete your X.
Once your X is done you will notice that all of the middle holes in your little square are empty. That is how you know you have done it right.
And then repeat! Once your first few are done it will get a lot easier to carry the momentum on.
If you would like to stitch in railroad stitches then you might want to start bottom left, go to the top right and repeat until you come to the end of the row. Then come back the other way going from bottom right over to top left remembering to miss those middle holes.
This stitching isn’t as neat as it could be as I used 3 threads to make it more clear for you, but I thought I would show you a photo of a design I’m stitching on 28 count evenweave with the usual 2 strands of thread.
Stitching this way, “over 2”, means that your design on 28 count evenweave, for example, will be the same as if it were stitched on 14 count aida.
I mentioned an exception before and this is it. If you stitch “over 1” on that 28 count evenweave your design will be 4x smaller than if it were stitched on 14 count aida. Same goes for 16 count aida/32 count evenweave etc.
Stitching over 1 is where you don’t miss any of those holes out and you stitch as if it were aida, going from 1 hole directly to the next.
This will give you a much finer and smaller design and is great for adding lots of detail. You may want to just use 1 strand of thread to stitch this way though. It isn’t the most common way to stitch on evenweave but some stitchers do it and I really want to try just to see what it will look like.
Why choose evenweave instead of aida?
So why choose evenweave over aida?
The outside looks neater
I’ve already mentioned the fact that once you have finished your design, the fabric with no stitches on around the edge/outside fo your design can look much better because the holes are less noticeable.
This is the biggie for me actually and there are some projects I wish I had used evenweave for now like my cross stitch lampshade I made earlier this year.
Another reason is that some people just prefer the feel of evenweave. It is much softer than aida and it is that lovely soft fabric that would be great for cushions and blankets.
If your design has fractional stitches
Also, factional stitches! I haven’t spoken much about fractionals but I do have a video about them on my YouTube and there will be more tutorials coming soon.
But these are where you usually only stitch 1/4 or 3/4 of the square and so you need to come down in the middle of the square. Of course with aida there isn’t anywhere to come down so you have to sort of push the needle through the 4 tight threads under or miss the fractional stitch.
On evenweave there is a lovely middle hole all ready to put your needle through, making it much easier to do a fractional stitch on evenweave.
Just for the record, I regularly do fractionals on aida and it isn’t that difficult, just more difficult than it is on evenweave.
I would say the choice comes down to the project you are doing and maybe if you’re just starting out in cross stitch. But if you are a beginner please don’t be put off by evenweave, once you get the hang of it you will love it.
I am adding a module all about evenweave in my How to Cross Stitch Course for Beginners so if you are new and want to dive deeper into cross stitch and evenweave head over and check the course out. Enrolment opens soon (June 2019)!
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Cross stitch pattern of the month
This month’s pattern is from Patterns Cross Stitch on Etsy and is Summer bike with a basket. It is really colourful and has a bit of a boho feel to it which I’m really into at the minute.
It uses just 8 colours and if stitched on 14 count aida it measures 8.4 x 5.1 inches. Head over to check it out!
Extra cross stitch resources
- How to Cross Stitch Guide for Beginners
- 15 Hints and Tips for Cross Stitch
- The 7 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Cross Stitching
- My Facebook community with over 1000 other stitchers
- Subscribe via iTunes to The Cross Stitch Podcast.