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  • Kat Waskett

9 Tips for Cross Stitching on Dark Fabric

There is no getting around it...cross stitching on black fabric, or other dark coloured fabrics, can be a little tricky! So much so, that some people prefer to avoid it altogether, but with a few tips and a little patience I know that you absolutely CAN do it.

You can also find all the information in this article as a video if you prefer to watch rather than read

Some designs just really 'pop' on dark fabric so it's totally worth trying. Just take a look at how these cute mini presents just jump out from the black fabric;

Small colourful presents being cross stitched on black Aida fabric with threaded needle, embroidery threads and scissors laying on top

So, let's dive into my tips so you can get stitching with confidence...

#1 - Good lighting

If you do nothing else then do this because it's the thing that I find makes the most difference for any stitching but especially when using dark fabric.

You can save any dark fabric stitching for when there is very good daylight or you can use an overhead daylight LED lamp. Or both! You really can never have too much light.

#2 - Put something white behind your stitching

Putting something white underneath your stitching will make it easier to see the holes in the fabric.

Some stitchers like to use a light box underneath but you can do just as well with a white pillowcase on your lap. Or, try simply holding your stitching over your printed pattern if you are using one!

#3 – Use a hoop

Even if you don't usually use a hoop or frame to cross stitch, it can be worth trying with dark fabric as the extra tension in the fabric can make the holes easier to see. [Not even dark fabric can persuade me to use a hoop though - lol!]

#4 – Choose your fabric carefully

When using dark fabrics for cross stitch, Aida is easier to use than linen, and you could also pick a lower count fabric as the holes are usually slightly bigger.

One downside to lower count dark fabrics is that you may get less good thread coverage i.e. you will see more of the dark fabric through the stitches, so you may need to try it out to see if you are happy with the coverage, or you could always use more strands e.g. 3 strands on 14 count Aida.

#5 – 'Feel' your way

As you stitch, you can use your needle to 'feel' the holes, and this is definitely something I do. In fact I I pretty much do this all the time but it's especially helpful on dark fabrics.

It's hard to explain this one so check out the video if you want to see it in action, but you basically run the needle along the fabric until you can feel it just dip slightly as it hits the hole, and then you know it's in the right place to push it through.

A ball tip needle could be really handy to help with this, and if you want to know more about these (and other needles) then check out my article What are the Best Needles for Cross Stitch?.

#6 – Mix it up

I recommend only stitching for short sessions on dark fabric because it can be harder on the eyes, and I like to alternate with other projects to give my eyes a little rest. It's a great excuse for having more than one project on the go, so you can mix it up when you need to, if you are getting frustrated with it, or if you find yourself going cross eyed!

#7 – Use a magnifier

These can make it easier to see the fabric and the holes. Some lamps come with these on, or you can buy reading glasses that magnify, or headlamps with magnifying lenses.

#8 – Keep it simple

Choose a small, simple pattern, ideally without fractional stitches, especially if it’s your first time stitching on dark fabric!

Picking a design with bright colours that contrast well with the dark fabric will be easier to stitch, as well as looking fabulous!

#9 – Take it slow

For my final tip I want you to make peace with the fact that you likely need to allow more time to stitch on dark fabric and just enjoy the process.

Just take it slow and even if you stitch in just 10 or 15 minute chunks you will finish it! There's no rush!

I hope this has given you the confidence to try stitching on dark fabric if you haven’t already, or just some helpful hints to make it easier.

But after all of this, if you still don't enjoy stitching on dark fabric...then don't! You absolutely don't have to do anything in cross stitch if it takes all the fun out of it!

Use whatever you most enjoy, and yes, just stick to white if that's what you prefer.

Oh, and if you would love to use more coloured fabrics to stitch on but have a hard time picking what to use then take a look at Cross Stitching on Coloured Fabric.

Until next time, happy stitching!


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