I can’t eyeball things.
Seriously, I’m the last person in the world you should ask if you’re hanging a picture on the wall. If I say it looks good, it’s crooked.
So maybe I am the right person to ask, just do the opposite of whatever I say!
okay, what does this have to do with cross stitch?
This tutorial covers how to find the center of your fabric + hoop.
There’s only a teensy bit of eyeballing involved – we will use actual measurements!
I want to stress that this step is really important.
The worst thing ever is when you’ve spent a ton of time stitching, and you realize you ran out of fabric because you didn’t find the center (correctly, or at all)!
You can do two things to make sure that doesn’t happen.
The first is to cut the right amount of fabric.
There are a lot of different formulas for this, and the calculations are way more important if you’re matting + framing your cross stitching after you’re finished. I won’t get into those here, because I always use hoops as frames.
If you’re going to keep it simple and use your hoop to frame it, I generally add 3 inches to the size of my hoop, and cut a fabric square that size. For example, if you’re stitching a design that fits into a 5″ hoop, cut an 8″ square.
Don’t be stingy with your Aida. You can always trim it later if you cut too much, but cutting too little is nearly impossible to fix!
Once you know you have the right amount of fabric, you need to make sure you start stitching in the center.
That’s why you’re here – to find the center of your fabric.
Counted cross stitch patterns typically have a way of indicating the center: arrows, lines, a dot, etc. As long as you match that spot up with the center of your fabric, you’re golden.
when should you use this trick?
This method of finding the center works as long as you’re using a hoop and the design fits entirely within the hoop.
It’s even more awesome if you plan to frame with the hoop. You’ll have no extra creases to worry about, so there’s really no need to even take it out after you’ve finished. #timesaver
However, if you’re working on a big project that will require you to move your hoop around the fabric as you work, this won’t work well for you.
find the center in 3 steps
- Straighten + hoop your fabric
- Measure vertically
- Measure horizontally
This awesome graphic illustrates all the steps + keep scrolling for more details!
step 1: tighten fabric in the hoop
Open your hoop and separate the two pieces. The “outer” ring has the screw, the “inner” ring doesn’t.
Set your inner ring on a table or hard surface – only because it’s easier. Place your fabric over the inner ring.
Okay, remember when I said I couldn’t eyeball anything?
Well, I’m going to be a big hypocrite because I’m asking you to eyeball stuff in this step. It’s not hard, I can actually do this!
Take a look at your Aida (or other evenweave fabric). You see the holes right? When your fabric has the right orientation, they run in vertical and horizontal lines.
Put your outer hoop over your fabric + inner ring, and using the screw as a reference point, straighten it out. If your screw is on top, the horizontal lines of the Aida should be parallel to the screw, and the vertical lines should be perpendicular to the screw.
(Obviously you won’t have trimmed your excess fabric yet, so you’ll have some hanging over the edge of your hoop, unlike this example image).
Once you’re happy, begin tightening down your fabric. Usually you have to turn the screw a little, and then pull on the edges of your fabric to keep it taut, and repeat. Don’t tug on the edges of your Aida so much that you pull it off-center, though!
step 2: measure vertically
Grab your ruler and get ready for some math.
It’s easy – just divide your hoop size by 2. So if you’re using a 5″ hoop, your center point is going to be at 2.5″
If you don’t have a ruler handy, grab a piece of paper and a pen. Mark the top and bottom of your hoop on your paper. Fold it in half (so those two marks meet) – that’s your center point. Woohoo – instant ruler!
Take your ruler and line it up directly under the screw where your hoop is at it’s widest.
Find the hole in the Aida that’s at your center point and mark it with a needle.
I refuse to mark my fabric with pen, pencils, etc. Needles work very well, and there’s no need to spend any extra time washing + scrubbing your projects later!
step 3: measure horizontally
We’re simply repeating step 2 but in the other direction this time.
Move your ruler so that it’s laying horizontally under your marked hole.
Locate the center point, and move your needle left or right within the same row. Don’t move it up or down, though!!
Since the spot under the screw is pretty close to centered, you may find that you were only off by a hole or two.
Woohoo! The needle is now in the hole located in the center of your hoop!
Now you start stitching!
You’ll want to refer back to your pattern’s center mark and choose a nearby color.
I suggested using two needles when you used this tutorial – that’s so you can use one to mark your hole, and thread the other one with the floss.