Aida Count and Image Sizing

This is one that gets people a little tripped up at first, especially if they’ve never designed their own patterns before.  Picking your aida count is important, because it determines not only how big your finished project will be, but how crisp it can look in the end.  Cross stitch is the original pixel art, and it works exactly the same way.  Lower resolutions will create a grainy or blurry image, while higher resolutions give you sharper lines and smoother colour transitions.

Let’s take a look at these goats.  Each goat has more detail than the next, despite being five inches across when printed.  And here’s why:

The goats seem to be getting bigger and bigger, but when stitched (or printed), would all be 5×5 inches.  When stitched, 28ct fabric has twice as many stitches per row as 14ct fabric, which means the 28ct goat would have four times the amount of stitches than the 14ct goat.

To figure out the size your project will be, it’s a matter of simple mathematics.  Divide the amount of stitches along the edge by the fabric count.


If you know how big you want your final piece to be, but you don’t know how many stitches that is, multiply your fabric count by the final size.


Since most Aida is measured in inches, that’s the system you’re a bit stuck with, unless you really feel like converting imperial to metric.

So now when you create your pattern, you’ll know exactly how big to expect it to be, no matter what size fabric you decide to use.  But don’t forget, a 12 inch square piece on 28ct will have four times as many stitches as a 12 inch square piece on 14ct.  That’s 112,896 stitches vs 22,242.  The 28ct piece will be a lot sharper, but it will also take a lot more time — something to keep in mind while you’re making your pattern.