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  • Kat Waskett

How to Find the Centre of your Cross Stitch Fabric

You’ll probably hear that the easiest place to start stitching your cross stitch pattern is from the middle, and that is absolutely true, especially if you are a cross stitch beginner.

Starting to stitch from the middle of your design means that you won’t end up with your stitching off centre on your fabric, or even worse that you run out of fabric space to finish stitching on - eek!

So, let's talk about how you can find that start point on your fabric.

You can also find all the same information here as a video if you prefer >>>

Finding the centre of your cross stitch pattern

Cross stitch patterns will indicate the centre of the design in one or both of two ways;

- arrows at the top and the side (or may be on all four sides)

- horizontal and vertical lines, often coloured

Section of a cross stitch cactus pattern showing the centre indicated by arrows at the top and left hand side and coloured lines vertically and horizontally

That's where you are going to start stitching from, so the next step is to find the centre of the fabric.

Now, there are good reasons to start from a different spot such as a corner, especially if you are stitching without an embroidery hoop and you’ll see why in my article Do I need to use a hoop for cross stitch? so take a look at that if you're curious.

Find the fabric centre - folding

The first way to find the fabric centre is to fold it in half, then in half again and pop a needle in the centre, then open it out. I find it tricky to do this without somehow pinning the fabric together in some way, so you can also just open it out and you’ll see the centre point where the fold lines cross.

Step by step process to find centre of fabric by folding in half, in half again and noting where the crease lines intersect

*click on the picture to see a bigger version

The downside to this method is that you might prefer not to make strong crease lines in your fabric before you even start stitching because that’s just making more work for yourself later to remove these!

I usually do a variation on this where I fold the fabric lightly in half, pop in the needle where I think the middle is, then open it out and lightly fold it the other way and adjust the needle to the centre if I’ve got it wrong!

Finding the centre of fabric by lightly folding in half, guessing the centre, leaving needle in situ, folding in half the other way and adjusting needle to centre

*click on the picture to see a bigger version

This doesn’t require me to actually crease the folds in place…and I also enjoy the game of how close can I get with my guessing!

Find the fabric centre - measuring

Another way to do this if you don’t want to fold the fabric is simply to measure using a ruler…a standard ruler will do just fine but requires a wee bit of maths.

So, if your piece of fabric is 20cm square you can measure along one side and mark where 10cm is, then measure across from there to 10cm, and that's the middle

a square of blue fabric with a ruler across the centre and a needle pushed into the fabric at the mid point

If you want to make this even easier without any maths at all, you can buy a centre finding ruler!

Marking the centre of your fabric

However you do it, once you’ve found that middle hole, I like to push a needle into the centre hole and back up the one below, or a few below so that will stay marked until you are ready to make your first stitch.

a square of blue fabric with the centre marked by a needle and a finger pointing to it

I wouldn’t mark this with a pencil unless you know you’re going to be stitching over it!

If you are going to stitch with your fabric in a hoop then mark this centre point before you put it in the hoop.

And of course, unless you have been very miserly with the size of your fabric a few stitches one way or the other will not matter!

Do you include the fabric selvedge?

If your fabric has a tightly woven piece along one edge of your fabric then this is known as the selvedge, and cross stitchers often wonder whether to include this or not when measuring fabric and finding the middle.

I always leave the selvedge on because that’s one edge I don’t need to prepare to stop it fraying, and if you want to know more about that then check out 5 ways to stop your fabric fraying.

However, I would not include the selvedge when measuring my fabric or finding the middle because when you are finishing the piece you might even want to cut this off as it will be bulkier in a hoop for example.

So, I would measure and cut my fabric ignoring the selvedge, so the fabric would be slightly longer than 20cm in one direction, and then I would fold to the start of the selvedge in that direction, so I’m not including it when I find the middle.

A square of white Aida fabric with the selvedge along one side being folde d in half but only up to the start of the selvedge

I hope that will have you finding the middle of your fabric quickly ad easily, and avoid any 'running out of fabric space' disasters!

Until next time... happy stitching!


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