Tips for Stitching on Black or Dark Colored Fabrics

Unique challenges but distinctive results



Projects stitched on black fabric look amazing and really tend to make the colors within a design ‘pop’. However stitching on black or dark colored fabrics can be particularly hard on your eyes and in my experience is much more difficult than using the light colored fabric we’re more familiar with. Here we will discuss some tips for success and how to avoid frustrations when using dark fabric …

black aida fabric

Light Up All The Stitching!

You cannot have enough light when stitching on a darker colored fabric. Natural sunlight works best but if you are indoors in the evening a good clip on light or headlamp will make things much easier, especially one that simulates natural light

I use these cheap LED lights from Costco:

Goose neck clip-on light to attached to a hoop

hoop goose neck clip-on light

hoop light cross stitch


You know what works better than a light?

More lights ! Placing a lamp behind your stitching will highlight the holes as the light shines through and really help when finding them:

cross stitching hoop black aida back-lighting

Place A White Item Behind

Also have a white pillowcase or towel on across your lap under the stitching, it will be easier to see the holes with white underneath as there will some contrast coming through the holes of the black fabric

Use A Magnifier

Magnifiers are extremely helpful when stitching in general but even more so on darker fabrics. You can also buy some that include lamps so your stitching is magnified and lit up.

Note: When using a magnifier always remove or cover it when not in use. I’ve seen a case on a cross-stitching group where someone’s stitching was left where the sun shone on it and it caused a burn in the fabric and also another case where it was left near a couch and caused a burn in the upholstery. It would be terrible if your project was damaged in this way or even worse a fire was started.

Feel Your Stitches

Use your needle to feel for the holes as you stitch, this is something that comes with practice, whatever fabric you’re stitching on.

Take Your Time

There is no rush so take your time. Take more frequent breaks to avoid eye strain and don’t stitch when you are tired. Again this is a good general rule of stitching but I think it is more important when working on a project that is particularly taxing due to the fabric choice.

Begin A Rotation

It may take longer to complete your project but have a simple fall back project so that you can take a break and do something easier for a while, you are less likely to get burnt out and lose your stitching bug this way .

Here is a really amazing example of a work in progress project stitched on 18 count black aida:

HAED Unleashed cross stitch

This is a Heaven and Earth Designs Chart called Unleashed and is currently being stitched by Donna Hoover who kindly gave me permission to feature her work. The chart contains a lot of black stitches around the dragon but in this example Donna is removing the black background stitches as she is using black fabric. So as well as looking awesome, black fabric can be a huge time saver on a large design such as this one.

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