How to Calculate Embroidery Floss Needed

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Things You'll Need

  • Design area in inches from cross stitch pattern

  • Cross stitch cloth in recommended squares per inch

  • One skein of embroidery floss

  • Embroidery needle

  • Calculator

Image Credit: Hemera Technologies/ Images

Cross stitchers find patterns they want to cross stitch and they need to be able to figure out how much embroidery floss they will need. Cross stitch patterns will give stitchers a finished design size in a measurement such as 10 inches x 10 inches. The patterns also specify what type of fabric should be used for the design to come out looking as close as possible to the picture in the book. Patterns also tell stitchers whether to buy DMC or Anchor embroidery floss and what colors to buy. The stitcher has to figure out how much embroidery floss she needs.


Step 1

Cut lengths of embroidery floss into 18 inch lengths, then separate each length into two strands each. You now have three 18 inch lengths of floss with two strands in each length.

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Step 2

Cross stitch a one-inch square area on your cross stitch fabric and keep track of how many strands of floss you have used.

Step 3

Most floss skeins are manufactured to eight meters, or 8.7 yards, long. Multiply the number of yards by 36--total inches in one yard-- and you will have the total number of inches of floss you have in your skein: 313.2 inches.

Step 4

A 10-inch by 16-inch design comes out to 160 square inches. Multiply the total number of inches of embroidery floss--from an earlier step--by the number of square inches in the design. This is the total number of inches of floss you need to have available.


Step 5

Calculate the total number of stitches in your stitched square. If you used Aida 14 fabric for your project, this will be 156 stitches.

Divide the total inches of floss you need by the total number of inches available in each skein--this figure is available from an earlier step.


Step 6

Read your cross stitch pattern instructions and see how many of strands of floss you are supposed to use on the design. If you are told to use all six strands at once, your floss usage will remain the same as in the above step; if you are told to use only three strands, multiply the number of inches in your skein by two--313.2 times two--to find out how many inches of floss you will have available to use in your stitching.


Different stitches use different tensions in their cross stitching. You may stitch slightly tighter or more loosely than another stitcher.

Some--not all--cross stitch patterns will tell you how many skeins of floss you will need per color.


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