How to make your own cross-stitch patterns

There are many pre-printed cross-stitching patterns on the market. But what if these are not your cup of tea, or you can’t find a pattern that’s quite right for your project, or you found a particular picture that you want to recreate in cross-stitch, or you simply want to create something completely unique? Then you’ll need to design your very own one-of-a-kind pattern.

To make your own cross stitching pattern, you will need the following materials:

  • Drawing pencil
  • Colored pencils
  • Eraser
  • Plain paper
  • Tracing paper
  • Carbon transfer paper
  • Graph paper

Step One: Plan Your Design

If you already know exactly what you want for your design, then you can skip this step! Otherwise, it’s time to look for inspiration. If you’re stuck for ideas, flip through magazines and art books, browse vintage shops for postcards and images, check out fabric patterns, and look online for images. When looking for images, remember that very fine details are often lost in cross-stitch, so you might need to enlarge the picture for it to make a good piece. If you intend to create a design entirely from scratch, then begin sketching out your ideas on blank paper—even scribbles and doodles can be the start of something beautiful!

Step Two: Transfer the Design to Graph Paper

Once you have the design fleshed out, transfer it to the graph paper. Trace the design onto tracing paper, then put a sheet of carbon transfer paper between the tracing paper and the graph paper, and draw over your tracing. This will leave the imprint of the design on the graph paper.

Take note of the size of the graph paper and the size of Aida cloth that you plan to use. For example, if you use graph paper with 8 squares per inch and your cloth is 14 count, then the finished needlework will be smaller than the drawing. If your design has a lot of detail, then you might want to make the original drawing bigger so that the detail won’t get lost in the final product.

Step Three: Block It

If you’ve worked in cross stitch before, then you know that cross-stitching patterns use blocks and half blocks (diagonals) to make the shapes in the pattern. Use light pencil strokes, so that you can easily erase your marks if necessary, to transform the design into a series of blocks and half blocks. Round edges are made using “stairsteps” and half blocks. Experiment at this stage to make sure that your drawing looks natural, not choppy.

Step Four: Add Color

Color in the drawing with colored pencils. This will give you a better idea of how the finished cross stitch piece will look, will serve as a guide when purchasing your floss, and will help you to keep track of your work as you are sewing. You might want to make several photocopies of the pattern before you color it in so that you can experiment with different color schemes.

When you have colored in the entire design, draw any outline and borderlines in the appropriate colors. Now, take that design down to your local craft store, pick up embroidery floss to match your colors, and start stitching!

When you have

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