As a note, this tutorial is locked to the community, which means you have to be a community member logged into LJ to see it. The reason for this is that one of the pieces featured in the pictures is a surprise for my sister's birthday, and I can't chance her seeing it. I will edit this entry to make it a public entry after her birthday, however, so everyone can see it then (in 2 weeks and change, if you need a time frame).
Edit: Added a note about needles that I forgot in the initial posting -- can't be perfect all the time! ;-)
I've used Aida for this example, because it is easier to see in the photographs. A note on using evenweave/linen/fabrics stitched over two threads appears at the end. Please also note that I am using much darker thread than I would normally use, for photographic purposes.
This is the way that I do gridlines, but I am by no means the absolute authority on the subject. If you have a method that you prefer, by all means, use it.
1. Gather your materials.
Needlework fabric, Thread Heaven (optional), sewing thread, needle, scissors. Regarding the thread, do not go out to Wal-Mart and get the cheapo, 10-cents-a-spool thread. It is very poor quality and sheds a *lot* of lint. Spend the money to get good thread. I recommend either Gutermann 100% polyester (pictured here) or Coats & Clarks' mercerized-cotton-covered polyester. Regarding the needle, I like to use the smallest needle possible, to avoid "enlarging" the holes as I grid the fabric. In my experience I've found a size 28 tapestry needle to be good for fabrics up to 16-count, and a size 8 quilting between for higher counts. If you are going to use a pointed needle (quilting between, sharp, etc.) either *carefully* grind the point off (a Dremel with a fine grinding wheel can be used) or be very careful not to pierce one of the fabric threads as you pass the needle through the fabric.
2. Find the center of your fabric by folding it in quarters.
Mark the centerpoint however you like; I tie a scrap of floss diagonally over the center hole. Now is also the time to make sure your fabric is oriented correctly. I like to write the words "Top Right" on a small scrap of paper and safety-pin it to the top right corner of the fabric.
3. Consult your pattern.
Look at your pattern and find the centerpoint. Is the center located at the intersection of two bolded lines or is it offset? If the latter, count the offset, horizontally and vertically, from the bolded lines. At this point you also have to decide if you want your gridlines running horizontally or vertically. I prefer running them vertically, but the choice is up to you. This tutorial will show vertical gridlines.
4. Start the center gridline.
Cut a length of thread for the center gridline. I do this by unwinding thread equal to the length of the fabric in the direction the gridlines will be running, then unwinding about 4 inches more. Thread your needle and leave a 2-inch tail. If you'd like, you can use a different color thread for the rest of your gridlines, to make the center stand out. This technique is shown in this tutorial.
If your pattern's center corresponds to the crossing of two gridlines, this next part is easy: put your needle down in the center hole (you marked it earlier, remember?). If the center is offset from the bolded lines, count this offset first before putting the needle through the fabric. Count 10 stitches away and bring your needle back up.
5. Finish the center gridline.
Count 10 more stitches and bring your needle back down. Continue counting squares and bringing your needle through the fabric. You can either go all the way to the edge or just mark as many sections of 10 as your pattern has. Remove your needle and let your thread hang off the edge of the fabric. Now re-thread the needle with the end of the thread that's still in the center hole and proceed to count and stitch until you reach the opposite edge of the fabric. Gently tug the thread until you have an approximately equal overhang off of each edge.
As you near the edge of the fabric, you need to decide how to run your thread tails. I serge my fabric edges, so I pass the thread through the serging and off the edge. If you tape your edges you may want to pass the thread up and down through two adjacent holes before the taped edge to help it stay in place.
6. Verify the centerline.
Now, very important: double- and triple- check the centerline you just stitched. All of your other gridlines will be based off of this line, so it must be correct.
7. Stitch the rest of the gridlines.
Now you are ready to put in the rest of the gridlines. I like to stitch them from the center out, as I did the centerline. So, from the center point, count 10 stitches perpendicular to the center gridline and put your threaded needle through the fabric. Now count 10 stitches parallel to the center gridline and bring your needle back. Continue until all gridlines are complete.
8. Stitch your pattern.
Now comes the fun part - stitching your pattern! Don't worry about stitching through the gridlines -- I pull them slightly to the side so I don't catch them with my needle. The only place where this is difficult is where the gridlines pass through the fabric. If you do pierce the thread, it's not the end of the world (and is covered in the next point).
You have a choice here: when doing backstitch/beading/embellishment, you can first remove your gridlines or leave them in. I've left them in here but I generally remove them. There is a note about this at the end of the tutorial.
9. Remove the gridlines.
Now it's time to remove your gridlines. I like to take a large tapestry needle (size 24 works well), insert it under a gridline on one of the edges, and tug until the end pulls though. I then move up the line, tugging the end through until I reach the opposite end of the fabric. If you are very careful, you can grasp the thread at one end and pull it through the stitches until it is completely removed; this only really works in areas that haven't been heavily stitched.
Now, if you've stitched through a gridline, don't panic. Just hold the thread perpendicular to the plane of the fabric and carefully snip it. Then tug the thread from the other side and it will pass right through.
Note about fabrics stitched over two threads.
A note when gridding evenweave, linen, or any other fabric that is stitched over two threads: when you are counting the 10 stitches for your gridlines, you must remember to count 20 holes in your fabric (don't laugh, we've all done it!). I find that the easiest way of doing this is to count "and-one, and-two, and-three, etc."
Note about backstitching.
This is for people who want to remove your girdlines before you backstitch, but still need to keep the lines in the fabric (for example, the piece has a border that you are saving for last). Clip the gridlines in their centers, and pull them just until they are off either end of the design. Leave all other gridlines intact.
If you have found this tutorial helpful, or have some suggestions, please let me know.