This is the first in a series of articles on different fabric types, how they can be used, their advantages and advantages, and how they work with hand dyeing.
Aida fabric was first invented by Zweigart in 1890, specifically for the cross stitch market. It is composed of groupings of threads to create very visible holes.
When stitching on Aida, one block on the fabric corresponds to one square on the chart. This makes it easy for beginner stitches (and why it is often used in pre prepared kits).
Aida fabric is now made in many colours by the three main fabric suppliers, Zweigart, Permin and Wichelt. It is also one of the cheapest fabric to buy and one of the most widespread; most big box or department stores will stock Aida fabric.
It is difficult to stitch partial stitches or specialty stitches on Aida, as you need to pierce the bundle of threads to create extra holes. If you do not pierce the bundle right in the middle then the stitch can look off-centre.
It is necessary to use a blunt needle when stitching on Aida so you don’t accidentally catch or pierce any of the outer threads in the bundle; but instead pass smoothly through the hole.
Depending upon the supplier and any hand dyed processes, Aida can feel very stiff. Handling over time will soften this fabric.
Aida ranges from 6 count to 22 count (6 stitches per inch, to 22 stitches per inch). Some of these different counts have specific names, but not all retailers use these names.
6 count = Herta
8 count = Hertarette
11 count = Perl
14 count = Stern
18 count = Fein
20 Count = Extra Fine
All of the three main Aida manufacturers Zweigart, Permin and Wichelt offer a variety of solid colours in the most popular 14 count. Most of the larger fabric companies offer Aida in a variety of printed or overdyed colours.
The most commonly used dyes and pigments latch onto natural fibres such as cotton and linen to a greater degree than man-made fibres. Standard Aida is 100% cotton so it takes dyes very easily. Aida can be dyed to very dark colours..
As such, most hand dyers offer Aida fabrics.
Sewitall – Stormy Sky Aida
These types of Aida are created the same way with the bundles of threads creating easy to see holes, but these Aidas are made from differing materials or are used in a specific way.
Please always check with the hand dyer before requesting a darker colour on any of these fabrics.
Similar to the DMC branded “Magic Count”, this Zweigart Easy Count Aida fabric is 100% Cotton and pre-gridded. The grid lines disappear when washed. This fabric is available in Aida 14 count and 20 count!
Created by Zweigart, this Aida cloth is 7 count and made from 60% Viscose, 40% Cotton.
Lurex or Pearl-flecked or opalescent
This Zweigart fabric of 88% Cotton, 12% Metallic Polyester is an opalescent fabric. That means that the cotton fabric has a metallic thread woven through it. Available in 14 count and 18 count.
Wichelt’s version is 93% Cotton with 7% Opalescent Yarn woven through.
Check with hand dyers which base fabric they use. Some offer an “opalescent finish” or a “sparkle” fabric that is not a woven opalescent. The metallic glints are sprayed on the fabric like a glued glitter after the dyeing process. These finishing options are not as robust as the Zweigart and Wichelt woven metallic options.
Made from 51% Cotton, 34% Rayon & 15% Linen, this Zweigart Aida has a rustic appearance and is ideal for heirloom sampler projects and for designs which need a natural looking background.
The Wichelt version is only available as an Oatmeal colour.
Created by Zweigart, this Aida cloth is only 3.5 count (yes that is 3 and a half stitches to the inch) and made from jute.
This Zweigart 14 count fabric is made of 96% cotton and 4% polyester. The polyester gives the fabric its “heather-country” look making it the ideal fabric for country & rustic designs.
The Wichelt version is only available in the Driftwood colour
Places to Buy
Charles Craft with DMC Worldwide offer solid Aida colours, the Impression line of printed Aida fabrics, the Iridescent line of opalescent Aida fabrics and the Marble line of softly marbled Aida fabrics.
Fabric Flair fabrics are not technically “hand dyed”, they are printed on one side of the fabric by machine, but I have included them here as they as used the same as hand dyed fabrics.
Zweigart sells solid colour and specialty Aida fabrics to Local and Online Needlework stores world wide.
Colour Cascade Fabrics Tammy has many hand dyed fabrics that would add a unique element to your stitching.
Tammy offers a 15% discount for readers of this site. Use code: CSReview. Offer ends 30 June 2015.
Sewitall supplies some Fabric Flair fabrics but also hand dyes their own colour combinations here in Australia
Stitches and Spice is Australia’s only fabric and thread hand dyer.
Enchanting Lair produce beautiful fabrics many of which can be used with their great charts.
Annick Abrial creates beautiful hand dyed threads and fabric.
Eclypse’s Colors has a beautiful range of fabrics.
Chromatic Alchemy is a Facebook only company that has a great range of bright fabrics.
Crafty Kitten has two ranges of hand dyed fabrics, pastels and vivids.
Jodyri Designs produces hand dyed floss and fabrics.
Polstitches is one of the UK’s longest running and best known fabric and thread hand dyers with their fabrics being recommended for charts in many UK Cross Stitch publications.
Sparklies has a large range of hand dyed fabrics that would add a such a sparkle to your project.
Dye Stitch Love is a Facebook only company that has a great range of colours.
Garibaldi’s Needle Works is an ebay only store that produces beautiful mottled fabrics and threads.
Hand Dyed Fabrics by Stephanie has a great range of colours to suit all projects.
HLC Fabrics have various themes of fabrics available for your designs.
Picture This Plus is one the US’s longest running and best known fabric hand dyers. Their annual Christmas in July sale is so huge it takes until November to dye and send out all the orders.
Sassy’s Fabbys has a great range of colours.
Silkweaver is the other long running and well-known fabric hand dyer from the US. Silkweaver was bought out by Zweigart USA a few years ago and there have been reports of slow customer service. I find I have the best results by ordering from the Needleworkers Delight site.
Sunny*Dyes fabrics by Youthful Hands Needle Crafts include some of the best hand painted fabrics I have seen.
Under the Sea Fabrics has some unique two-toned earth and sky or water and sky fabrics rarely seen elsewhere.
Did I miss any good Aida dyers? Please comment below and I will add them to the list.
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