In order for me to make cloister stitch neat looking I need gridlines.
I first drew up just the directional lines to keep my laid threads in the same direction throughout. Then I found that in order to not have to turn the piece over every couching stitch I have to add lines for those as well. So basically I drew directly on the background fabric and follow those lines. Speeds up the stitching considerably and helps keep things even very nicely.