The Anatomy of a Cross Stitch Project Step 1: Picking a Chart

Cross stitch is a fun and soothing hobby that anyone can pick up easily. It requires very little equipment and the materials are inexpensive. You can create a unique and impressive work of art or use it to simply embellish small items. All you need to know how to do is count!

The following article has been written to help you pick a chart for a new cross stitch project. It assumes that you have a basic understanding of cross stitch vocabulary and are familiar with the standard cross stitch chart layout and terminology. It uses inches because that is the standard of measurement for cross stitch and cross stitch charts worldwide.

It is designed to help you, whether beginner or expert, make an informed decision when you are considering giving a cross stitch as a gift for a particular occasion and therefore the project has to be finished by a particular date.

It can also be used to help you make the basic calculations required to estimate on how long a cross stitch project will take to finish regardless of whether or not you have a deadline.

Picking a suitable chart is dependent four things.

How much time you have is the first consideration. Is the finished product going to be for a particular occasion like a wedding or birthday? How many days do you have until that date?

The second thing to think about is how fast and good a stitcher you are. These two things don’t necessarily go together. Sometimes good is better than just fast because you will not spend as much time unpicking your mistakes!

Thirdly, and this also has to do with skill level, what is the type and count of the fabric you will be stitching on? If you are a beginner it is best not to go for a chart that recommends 32 count even weave. You can substitute a 16 count aida fabric, which will be faster and easier to stitch, if the chart is suitable. Some designs are made for even weave and do not look as good on aida.

Fourth ask yourself honestly how much time you can spend on it day to day. If you think you can accurately stitch two ten by ten squares in a hour and you can spend an hour a day on it and the project needs to be finished in six weeks don’t go for a chart that is more than 80x100 stitches. That is 8x10 chart squares of 10x10 stitches each.

On 32 count even weave that is five inches by six and a quarter inches. Which is not really that big.

When doing the above calculation also be mindful of stitch density. For example if each 10 stitch x10 stitch chart square only averages 20 actual stitches this will not take as long as a chart where every square is a stitch. But where there are less stitches there is more counting and this can mean more potential errors. So it really does even out in the end unless you have a lot of blank space.

It is better to calculate on the assumption that all squares are stitched and then you will have a little extra time for contingencies.

Always leave at least two weeks at the end for framing your project if you are having it framed professionally. I would recommend this for any heirloom piece like a wedding or birth sampler. So if, based on the calculations above, you figure that a particular chart will take you six weeks to stitch you will need to start stitching 8 weeks before the gift needs to be given.

I hope you have found this article helpful and that you will now be able to pick a chart for a new cross stitch project that is suitable for both your skill level and deadline.

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