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Cross stitch gridding with fishing line

Cross stitch gridding with fishing line

with 10 Comments

If you’ve ever seen a picture of what looks like thread running in a grid on a cross stitch project, it’s likely that the stitcher did their gridding with fishing line or something similar. Using fishing line is great as it won’t leave permanent marks on your fabric, it’s inexpensive, and it’s reusable! This video tutorial will show you how to grid your fabric with fishing line, and the featured pattern in it is also a free cross stitch pattern available to Peacock Lounge members.

To use this gridding method, one type of thread you can use is Easy Count Guideline. It’s is designed specifically for needlework, and it’s a fine red nylon thread (that you can reuse). Not all needlework shops carry it, but many do. If you’re having a hard time finding it or it’s too expensive in the store you found it in, you can use fishing line instead. In the video below I’m using 8 pound test dark blue fishing line (it’s strong enough to catch a fish 8lbs or less, but basically it’s a fine gauge fishing line).

Gridding is great because you can “mimic” the darker gridlines in your pattern (usually every tenth row or column) onto your fabric. By having the same grid on your fabric as on your pattern, you can lessen the chance of making mistakes. You can also actually end up stitching faster (as you can find where your next stitch needs to go more easily). Both gridding using fishing line and by drawing the lines on (as in this gridding video) take time, but this method saves time later from unpicking mistakes. Fishing line or Easy Count Guideline is preferable to sewing thread as it can’t be punctured by your needle, and your floss slips easily around it. You can also just pull out the line when you’re finished, meaning it’s reusable for next time. Some stitchers also love using Sulky Sliver metallic thread to grid their fabric with as well, so there are lots of options. Fabric markers can leave permanent marks on fabric if left on for too long, so if you have a large project it’s preferable to stitch your grid lines than it is to draw grid lines. Fabric markers can also leave lines on your fabric that show up again (after washing them out) if the fabric gets too cold — I’ve heard of stitchers mailing their pieces for exhibitions or competitions only to have the grid lines return because the stitching got cold in the mail system. Stitching your grid lines is also perfect for linen and evenweave fabric, which can be harder to draw lines on as they are very fine fabrics.


To stitch your fishing line into your fabric, use a fine sewing needle to thread your fishing line onto. Don’t use a tapestry needle, or the needle might make the holes in your fabric slightly wider — you could end up with a little grid of holes all over your fabric when you remove the line. It’s not a big deal if that happens as usually washing and ironing your finished cross stitch piece will take care of that, but it’s easier to prevent it in the first place.


In the video you’ll see I come up in the first hole, count over 1-4 holes, and then go back under on the fifth. Then I count 6-9, and come up on the tenth hole. In this manner I’m going over five, under five, over five, etc. You can go over ten and under ten, or over 2 and under eight, whatever you like. Just make sure to be careful when counting during gridding, as you don’t want to throw the rest of your grid off by accident.


Enjoy the video below, and if you’d like the free cross stitch pattern “Let Them Eat Cupcakes” featured in this video, please click here to join the Peacock Lounge and get your free pattern! 🙂


Gridding with fishing line



Links mentioned in the video:

Gridding using pencil or fabric pen
How to centre your pattern on the fabric



Cross stitch gridding with fishing line
Article Name
Cross stitch gridding with fishing line
Have you ever wondered how to do gridding with fishing line for your cross stitch projects? Watch this video tutorial and get one of the free patterns!
Publisher Name
Peacock & Fig
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Artist and Designer

I am an artist, veteran, analyst, and mommy to the sweetest dog ever. I am constantly thinking of ways to use my creativity in everything I touch despite my physical limitations, and I love encouraging others to do the same.

10 Responses

  1. Sharon
    | Reply

    Hi. I have been watching your videos and they are awesome. I am still relatively new to cross stitch. I’ve done MAYBE 5 complete pieces so far, the largest being an 8×10 photo quality for a friend. I have another that I’m about to start which the material piece was 25×40 14ct folded when sold and the project size is 15.6×36.8 in. Most of my project have been without a hoop, but I haven’t worked with so much material. I was wondering if you had any suggestions dealing with fraying that I have noticed happen when I free stitch. I have tried masking tape and it made one sticky, and I haven’t had much luck with the fray check either. Considering the size of material, would it be better to iron out the folds before starting? Luckily my project won’t be a solid piece but a lot of separate ones that will measure 205×516 stitches. Thank you!

    • Dana Batho
      | Reply

      Hi Sharon! I’d try and iron out some of the main creases before you stitch if you can. But if you finish and you have a hard time getting the remaining creases out, one neat tip I just heard was to soak your piece (I always wash my pieces anyway), roll up the piece in a towel and get out the excess moisture, and then roll it up without the towel and stick it in the freezer. When it’s frozen, pull it out, unroll it, and iron it while it’s still frozen. Apparently that’s a foolproof way to get stubborn creases out. 🙂 As for the fraying, I never seal my edges (I find it only frays a few strands then stops), but you could also try painter’s tape. It won’t leave a residue, and should stop your fraying. You can also use a serger or stitch a zigzag stitch along the edge with a sewing machine. Hope that helps! 🙂

  2. Carlene
    | Reply

    Thanks for the video. Any tips on a putting a grid on linen?

    • Dana Batho
      | Reply

      Hi Carlene, thanks very much for your comment! Sorry it took so long for me to respond, I didn’t get the notification you’d posted! You can do exactly the same thing on linen — grid in the lines with fishing line. The rows of holes are much finer, so you’ll just have to be careful to count accurately. I’d recommend gridding with fishing line (or other nylon thread) to be the only way you could really successfully grid linen as it is very fine fabric. So if you’re stitching over 2 for your project on linen, just count 20×20 for each grid of “10”, as you’ll be skipping every second hole. Does that help? Let me know if you have any other questions! 🙂

  3. Ron Lynn
    | Reply

    Nice video Dana, thanks! I’ve been cross stitching for 20 years or more and have never gridded before. I’ve never had any problems. However, I can certainly see the appeal. I’m about to embark upon a project that will probably take me several years to complete. I’d like to grid the pages of the pattern (there are over 150 pages). I can’t imagine gridding all the 10x10s, there would be nearly 7000. It will be done on a black 25ct fabric. A couple of questions:
    1) what should one use to grid on black fabric?
    2) any guidance for gridding pages?

    Again, thanks for the video!

    • Dana Batho
      | Reply

      Hi Ron, thanks for the questions! That sounds like an amazing project you’re about to start on! For black linen I’d actually recommend clear fishing line. If you have decent lighting when you’re stitching, it will reflect the light and look almost white, so that should be easy enough to see. Try a bit out and see if it will work for you before gridding the whole piece. And if you don’t want to grid each 10×10, you could do the even # grids (like 20×20), or even grid the full pages as one “grid” on your fabric. Just be careful about any pattern overlap, that might be tricky when moving to the next page. Does that help? 🙂

      • Ron Lynn

        Thank you. That helps a bunch. Happy Holidays!

      • Dana Batho

        Haha you’re very welcome Ron! Happy holidays to you too! 😀

  4. Elsie Hunter
    | Reply

    I’ve used gridding on my last two projects and I love it! It does take time to grid, but in the end it’s worth it and soooo much easier to stitch. Anyway, thanks for sharing this technique.

    • Dana Batho
      | Reply

      Haha you’re very welcome Elsie, I’m glad you enjoy the benefits of gridding! Happy stitching! 🙂

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