Thread calculator: How much thread do I need for my cross-stitch project?

Thread calculator: How much thread do I need for my cross-stitch project?

If you're starting a cross-stitch project, you might wonder how many skeins you need to buy. The truth is it's not easy to make this calculation, but at The Fresh Cross Stitch, we offer you a calculator to make an estimation.

There are some general equivalences you can use to know how many skeins you need for your cross-stitch project. That's why we offer our cross stitch thread calculator and provide you with some key data to calculate how many skeins you need for your cross stitch project.

Skein calculator

This is our skein calculator. You can enter how many strands you're going to use, the number of stitches you need to embroider, and also the type of fabric you're going to use.

If you're not sure about the fabric type, we recommend you read our article where I explain the types of cross stitch fabric available.

Using  strands for stitches with a  count Aida.



Number of skeins Recommended purchase

Key data about skeins: How many meters of thread does a skein have?

Here are some other key data we need to consider before making our calculation:

  • Skeins typically have 8 meters in length.
  • Each skein has 6 strands of thread, which translates to 48 meters.

Each skein has:

  • 24 meters for stitching with 2 strands
  • 16 meters for stitching with 3 strands
  • 12 meters for stitching with 4 strands

Other ways to calculate how much thread you need

There are many different equivalences attempting to calculate how many stitches can be embroidered with a skein.

One of the most commonly used sources for equivalences between a skein and stitches is PC Stitch. According to this cross stitch program, you can embroider the following number of stitches using 100% of one skein.

Count Stitches
11 1.800
14 2.500
16 2.900
18 3.300

However, this calculation is made assuming that you make full use of the entire skein, which is not realistic. It's more common to waste some thread at the beginning and end of each strand's use, or when making knots behind the fabric. Therefore, our calculator reduces this figure by between 15% and 30% to make the result more realistic.

Why is it difficult to estimate the performance of skeins?

Most cross-stitch patterns do not include information on how many skeins of thread you need for each color, as it depends on many factors. Estimating the number of skeins you'll need is challenging because it depends on factors such as the type of fabric you use, the fabric count, or your own experience as an embroiderer.

The complexity of the cross stitch pattern

It's not the same to have to make 100 consecutive stitches as it is to make jumps between them. In those jumps, we may waste several inches of thread that we have to take into account.

The fabric you use and the size of the stitches

It's not the same to use a fabric with a count of 12 as one with a count of 24, as these differences make the stitches larger or smaller, thus requiring more or less thread to embroider them.

The number of strands you use

The standard in cross stitch is to use two strands for the crosses and one strand for backstitch. However, your personal preference may be different, or your pattern may indicate a different number of strands.

The tension of the stitches

Everyone has a different way of embroidering. Some embroiderers apply more tension than others, which also affects the amount of thread we use. In general, try to make your stitches have a medium tension as balanced as possible: if you tighten them too much, wrinkles will form; if you loosen them too much, it will give a too loose effect and they could snag.

Your experience in embroidering

This is also a very important factor to consider before buying the skeins. If you're an experienced embroiderer who manages not to tangle the threads behind the fabric, congratulations! However, the reality is that many of us make mistakes when counting stitches, knots form, or threads get tangled behind the fabric. This is also a factor that makes us use more thread.

As you can see, calculating how many skeins you need is not an easy task, but with our cross stitch thread calculator, you can easily find out, and by rounding up to ensure you never run out of thread.

Also, remember that we also have a fabric calculator for cross stitch, so you also know how much fabric you need to buy.

Cross Stitch Calculator | The Fresh Cross Stitch
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