Even if you have never seen cross stitch graph paper, if you have taken an art class, you probably learned how to accurately (sort of) duplicate a drawing by dividing it into squares. (Nowadays they teach it in first grade.)
Having these lines as a reference, you can more easily complete the drawing, one square at a time. What's that old joke? How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
The same technique works for making alterations in a cross stitch design.
When she made the chart, the designer used cross stitch graph paper (or a software equivalent) to make pictures and letters on grids consisting of vertical and horizontal lines. Symbols in each square represent the stitch type, such as cross stitch, 3/4 stitch or French knot.
A legend or key tells you which floss color should be placed in the square indicated by each symbol. We refer to these grids as patterns, designs and charts.
Cross Stitch graph paper comes in many grid sizes (10 squares to the inch, 14 squares to the inch, etc.), and cross stitch fabric is available in many thread counts (9 count, 14 count, etc.). So, you can see why, when I first started making simple design changes to existing patterns, I thought I should use a graph paper that would match my fabric count. I was wrong.
I have yet to see a cross stitch pattern designed on anything but a 10-squares-to-the-inch grid, like the one you see here. It makes sense. No matter how large or small the squares, a bold or colored line subdivides your graph, in increments of 10, both horizontally and vertically, indicating 1 inch.
This 10-grid standard makes it easy to glance at a pattern and quickly determine the design size in length and width. The eye can easily "measure" the portion of a 10-square section taken up by a design. The total "count" size will help you calculate your finished design size on fabric with various thread counts.
(See "Convert Stitch Count to Finished Size in Inches" to see what to do with these numbers.)
For example, if the design is 60 wide (six inches on 10 count fabric), you can easily calculate its width in another fabric count. 60 counts on 14-count fabric will be about 4 1/4 inches. Calculate this by dividing the count (60) by the fabric count (14). The answer, 4.2857, is close enough to 4 1/4.
An easier way to do this is to use our handy Stitch Count Table.
Despite the common use of 10-count paper, there may be occasions when you want to work on graph paper that matches your fabric. After all, you know the thread count fabric you'll be working in.
Let's say that you want to stitch a greeting card with a design that must fit in a 3" x 5" window. Your design can't be larger than 3 blocks by 5 blocks. If your fabric is 14-count Aida, you may find it easier to quickly visualize using paper with the same stitch count.
We provide cross stitch graph paper in 9 count, 10 count, 11 count and 14 count. Remember that even though your fabric is 14-count, for example, and you want to design on graph paper in 14-count, you wouldn't want the squares to be to scale.
You should work larger on paper than you would on fabric. 14-count graph paper printed so an inch on the fabric equals exactly an inch on paper would have squares too small to work easily.
As for me, I've always found it easiest to design with 10-square grids.
- It's consistent with others' designs.
- It's easy to count.
- The square size is large enough to work with.
- Since my patterns are all 10-count, I don't have to convert between them.
Once you start altering designs and creating new ones, you will probably settle on a grid size that works best for you. Whether you chose 10-count or something else, I hope you find these cross stitch graph paper grids useful.
Click on one of these links for the count size of cross stitch graph paper that you want to print. A new window will open so you can continue browsing here.
Open a window to print 9-count Graph Paper
Open a window to print 10-count Graph Paper
Open a window to print 11-count Graph Paper
Open a window to print 14-count Graph Paper
If you need personalize your cross stitch project, see our collection of free alphabets and review our tips and techniques in Alphabet 123s.
Be sure to see our free cross stitch charts page. With about 50 patterns and new ones added often, you'll find both simple and very complex designs.
Return from Cross Stitch Graph Paper to Better Cross Stitch Patterns Home Page