The Very Best Pop Culture Cross Stitch

We’ve shown the best geeky cross stitch before on our site, but with the lines blurring on popular culture and geek, we feel its time to post some killer cross stitches!

Pokemon

Pokemon go was massive last year, and continues to be a stable app on many of our phones thanks to gen 2, but nothing compares to how awesome the original epic cross stitch is. This version by Eponases shows just how much effort is required with 8 months of stitching.
epic pokemon cross stitch

Video Games

There are frankly loads of video game cross stitches out there now, a large volume of which are mine… but the reason cross stitch got such a cult following back in 2010 was partly due to awesome work being shared on the likes of technabob. This amazing example by psi169 is one of my all time favorites.
Mario Power Ups Cross Stitch

Harry Potter

Harry Potter will ALWAYS (see what I did there?) be a part of our hearts, but there is so much going on in the books and movies, how can you stitch all of them? Well this brilliant Potter inspired sampler by Etsy shop FeltLikeStitching is made particularly poignant by adding a little golden flair.
Sampler Harry Potter Cross Stitch large

Tattoos

1 in 3 people have a tattoo. Hard to get away from now-a-days, but its rare to see a truly brilliant one. However, this rose cross stitch tattoo, whilst not my personal favorite, still goes to show there’s talent out there.
shoulder-rose-cross-stitch-needle-tattoo

Star Wars

When you think of a Star Wars cross stitch there is only one that comes to mind. The “Coruscant Tapestry” has become so popular it was even posted in major English newspapers.
Star-Wars-tapestry-cross stitch
If you wanted to check out some other Star Wars cross stitch I have a book out too.
Star Wars Cross Stitch Cover by rhys turton lord libidan

Star Trek

Whilst I did have a hand in the below pattern, thanks to my Star Trek Cross Stitch Book, the fact that the below sampler is so fantastic is the designer has merged multiple patterns into one, making a super stitch.
star trek sampler cross stitch

Sherlock Holmes

This awesome little sherlock cross stitch is only made all the cooler by it being so small. aliciawatkins occasionally sells them on her Etsy, so keep your eye out for a chance to get one.
sherlock cross stitch little brains

Game Of Thrones

Game of Thrones hit the world my storm, and its clear we’ll get spin offs, but whilst the story is all about being the king or queen, everyone knows its all about owning the map. And now you can thanks to RandomlyGenerated’s Etsy store, featuring this brilliant map you can develop as the stories continue on.
game of thrones map cross stitch

This we missed one off, or want to submit your own? Hit us up with an email or link!

How comics help create cross stitch patterns

Making patterns is pretty simple, however making a good one is an art. We’ve gone over a few ways to make sure the pattern you make has elements that put on the finishing touches, however I’m going to delve into one of those in more detail.

The Story.

This is where comic books come in. Comics and manga have a limited space to convey a lot of emotion, suspense, story and above all still look good.
They do this in a few key ways that allow the image to convey more than just a simple figure standing there, and these are things you should always think about when making a pattern, especially of a character.

Positioning:

Saga the lying cat cross stitch
The first thing you see here is the cat. Then you see what he’s saying. Now whilst this is a direct import from a comic book (Saga) its been positioned slightly off to the right of center, meaning you look at the whole image, and not just the cat. This puts further emphasis on what the cat is saying; his catchphrase (and only thing he says).
If you look into this image a little further it also utilizes the rule of thirds to perfection.

Pose:

green_lantern_cross_stitch_by_saber
Boom! Look at those pose. Green Lantern has not only taken up the whole ring, but his position shows he’s in flight, driving off the screen, creating suspense and movement. Imagine a plain green lantern standing there; which is better?

Drama:

pow-cross-stitch
Whilst the above image is very comic book specific it does show that with the simplest of words “pow” you can create something so much more. The fun colors, the star background, the fact that it only just fits into the ring, its slightly uncentered position, all make it seem super important, punchy and in your face. Drama at its finest.

Combining these things:

superman-cross-stitch-pattern
So what does this actually mean for combining these things together? Well the above pattern (available on Etsy) uses all these things at once for a fantastic cross stitch pattern.
The position on the right makes it clear he’s looking down on the city, the pose suggests he’s mid fight (or enraged), and the drama of the piece thanks to the plain simplistic background but bright crisp detailed superman.

When making my own patterns I ALWAYS try to think of comic books, and how they might be displayed. Not only does it help with each of the above points, but its always a constant source of inspiration. A Green Lantern cross stitch in the right pose can quite easily be turned into any superhero, and with a bit of work any character you want.
If you want to know more about how comics and manga can help make cross stitch patterns with a punch, check out the book Manga Cross-Stitch: Make Your Own Graphic Art Needlework. Its all about how to use the comic book style in pattern making.

Pokemon Mega Ring Cross Stitch

Pokemon Mega Ring Cross Stitch
Title: Mega Ring
Date Completed: February 2016
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 12
Canvas: Bracelet
Colours: 9
Game: Pokemon
I got a cross stitch-able bracelet as part of a competition i won, but it had hung around for about a year. However, whilst recently playing through Pokemon Sun I remembered it, and how perfect it would be for a mega ring!

Spirited Away Cross Stitch

Spirited Away Cross Stitch
Title: Spirited Away
Date Completed: February 2016
Design: Richard J. Evans & Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: Orange
Colours: 11
Anime: Spirited Away
MotoRuxin has been doing some sweet stitches recently on really bright background aida, and it got my fingers itching for something similar. I had a quick google online, and after seeing Adam Savage’s My Neighbour Toronto costume, I got on a bit of an anime binge. And lo and behold, a Spirited Away stitch.

How to make a cross stitch pattern perfect

I’ve already written a few blog posts in the past on how to make a cross stitch pattern perfect however it was written from the point of view of improving a pattern you’ve already made. But what about starting from a blank piece of paper?

Story

Every post I’ve written about cross stitch patterns starts the same way. Story.
Comic books have story in spades and can really boost an image, but stealing some of their magic, but just thinking about the composition or the background can make a cross stitch pattern perfect.

The Rule Of Thirds

Journey cross stitch using the rule of thirds
The above image is one of the best composed images I’ve even seen recreated in cross stitch. Its perfect balance of blank space to stitches, and its fantastic sense of scale allows it to own that title on its own. But its fantastic us of the rule of thirds (a well known photography trick) make it even more special.
The rule of thirds stipulates something every simple, but its often not that easy to actually do it. The eye is naturally drawn to the cross over points marked in blue. I know that blue lines make it clear on the above image, but normally it happens too. It doesn’t even matter if the image is rectangular, circular (or even star shaped), your eye naturally goes to these areas. Combining them like the above Journey one just makes the eye pick them up perfectly.

Theme

There’s no getting away from it, but the theme of a cross stitch pattern is the thing that makes or breaks it. Is it an in joke? Or is it something everyone is talking about?
Ironically depending on what your theme might be, the pattern changes drastically. It might be a good idea to check out the biggest trends in cross stitch for 2017 to see what might be a good starting position, but remember one thing; make something memorable.

Color Palettes

Taking a fun Harry Potter image might be a great start to a cross stitch pattern. Its got a story, it fits with positioning, it has a fantastic and nerdy theme, but there are 7 movies. I can’t tell you how many Potter cross stitch patterns I’ve seen that have bright colors like the first film. But if you’re stitching up something from Harry as a child, how about choosing color palettes from the film that reflect that time?
harry potter and the deathly hallows part 1 color palettes
@CINEMAPALETTES is a fantastic place to find movie colors.

Are Cross Stitch Needles Allowed On Planes?

Cross stitch needles ARE allowed on planes. The TSA advise;

You may place your knitting needles and needlepoint tools in carry-on or checked baggage.

However, there is a wider question here, and that’s;

Can You Cross Stitch On A Plane?

There are two things to think about here, the needles and the scissors. Even though an initial thought is no on both counts, you can take both on, so long as you prepare for it.

Needles

We’ve already established that you can take needles onto a plane, however in practice, things aren’t as simple.
Firstly, they MUST be embroidery needles, as they have rounded ends. In addition, you should be able to show this.
Secondly, they MUST be enclosed in a hard shell.
The best approach here is to buy something like John James Pebble, as its clear so the agents can see, they’re enclosed, and they stay they’re embroidery needles. Limit the amount you bring though, you’re not taking an arsenal.

I will add a caveat there, that sometimes needles can be confiscated. If this is the case, all airports carry sewing kits, which can be picked up for $2-3, and contain a needle (oh, the irony). In some cases these are even embroidery needles. Just be careful with the point.

Scissors

This is slightly more complicated. You aren’t allowed to bring sharps, which include almost all scissors. If you can find a pair that are less than 1 inch from the pivot point, and are rounded off on a 1/1 curve, then you can take them, however not only was I not even able to find a pair like this in my research, but they don’t strike me as very useful tools for cross stitch.
There is an alternative though; threadcutters. At the moment you can take two different kinds, the DMC thread cutter pendant (which can be questioned on some airlines), or the Thread Cutterz Ring. I have used both, and I would STRONGLY recommend the ring.

Now you have everything prepared, place both needles and scissors (if you have them) in a clear bag, and treat them like liquids.

On a final note, I would suggest in all cases you should phone the airline before taking them aboard, and NEVER hide them. Also, as a tip, use shorter lengths of thread than usual, you don’t have as much space on a plane.

The best modern and contemporary cross stitch books

Frankly, there are hundreds of cross stitch books out there. However which are the best books? That’s a little hard to answer on its own, but I’ve broken up the cross stitch world so you can find out which cross stitch books are best for you. Here we have the top 10 modern and contemporary cross stitch books.

1 – Subversive Cross Stitch

By Julie Jackson

Rude. Lude. But oh so funny. The cross stitch community wouldn’t be what it is today without subversive stitch, and this book only goes to prove that. A quick look at their website will probably give you more stitches to try, but it makes you understand the sub-culture so much better.

2 – Cross-stitch Super Collection

By Makoto

A fantastic book particularly for beginners, with hundreds of mini stitches to try, it won’t take long to see a pattern, start a stitch and finish. I have more than a slight feeling that this book got people into cross stitch.

3 – Game & Stitch

By Makoto

This is a little hard to find now, and its all in Japanese… However the design of the book just oozes awesome. Makoto has also come about the stitches in a way unlike others I’ve seen, with outline only space ships from space invaders (worth it just for those). Its major drawback however is its lack of content. There are maybe only 30 stitches, and each are less than an inch.
And the language barrier doesn’t help to be honest…

4 – Star Wars

By Rhys Turton & John Lohman
Star Wars Cross Stitch Cover by rhys turton lord libidanStar Wars Cross Stitch inside by rhys turton lord libidan
Written by my very own hand the Star Wars cross stitch kit features loads of patterns for beginners and more advanced stitchers alike, but also offers parts so you can construct your own patterns! And it massively helps that its Star Wars…

5 – Stitch People

By Lizzy Dabczynski-Bean

I’ve never been one to stitch people, however one quick glance at this book and you can see just how easy it is. There are outfits, hairstyles, faces, and accessories in abundance so you can mix and match your subject with ease. To make it even better the style makes it easy for you to customise with your own work in a flash. The book is clear, and every page is a beauty to read.

6 – Supersize Stitches

By Jacqui Pearce

BIG STITCHES! The great thing about Jacqui’s book isn’t that the stitches are big, but are instead well thought through. Some use large aida, some use the negative space well, and others are plan and simple well designed.

7 – Storyland Cross Stitch

By What Delilah Did

What Delilah Did is a powerhouse in cross stitch. And no wonder her books are too. I like this one best for two reasons; firstly its cute, every stitch makes you want to say “awwwwww”. And secondly; its also a kit. Unlike other kits that come in a big box, each pattern has a page where the supplies are attached so you can pull off and do one at a time.

8 – Manga Cross-Stitch

By Helen McCarthy & Steve Kyte

2007 wasn’t a big year for cross stitch, it was before the rise of the contemporary scene as seen in our cross stitch history post, however I think a major part to its rise may have been this book. It comes with a questionable cross stitch pattern maker, and a set of instructions for panel ideas. What it doesn’t do is tell you what to stitch, but instead tells you styles you can emulate, and takes you on a journey to make your own patterns. A great book for beginners, and frankly, a great resource for comic book style stitches.

9 – Mega Mini Cross Stitch


By Makoto
The newest book from the author of “Cross-stitch Super Collection”, he attempts to pack more detail into ever smaller stitches. I picked up a copy the first day it was out, and the space stitches are frankly amazing.

10 – Twisted Stitches

By Phil Davison

My major concern with this book is the lack of finesse. Each stitch has unclean lines, and dead stitches. However that’s its charm. The stitches are horrific, and weird at the best of times, and it pulls no punches in being an adult book, however its one of the best selling cross stitch books out there.

Bonus – Push Stitchery

By Jamie Chalmers

OK, this isn’t specifically a cross stitch book, and its content of cross stitch is fairly low, however our mate at MrXStitch.com has been able to compile some of the best stitchers in the world. This is my go to place when I want a bit of out of the box stitching.

5 Best Fallout Cross Stitches

I recently finished the last piece of Fallout 4 DLC, and with a pending 3-5 year wait until the next one I thought I would round up the last of Fallout until then with 5 Fallout cross stitches to tide you over until Fallout 5.

Can you see that? I mean…wow. Just… wow. This amazing (and epic) piece was inspired by the Nuka Quantum of Fallout 3, using a fan made poster to create a great cross stitch.
fallout-nuka-cola-quantum-cross-stitch

All those years squired away in a soul-less, possibly dangerous vault. What else would there be to do than cross stitch classic samplers? This fantastic example combines a few simple stitches as well, making not only a fantastic cross stitch, but a fantastic bit of Fallout fan art.
fallout vault-sampler-cross-stitch

Made for the annual spritestitch charity quilt, user SonnySplendor created this amazing cross stitch inspired by Fallout New Vegas. It was so impressive that I also featured it as the title cross stitch for the SpriteStitch Round Up on Mr X Stitch that month.
fallout-new-vegas-cross-stitch

This fantastic cross stitch is so good I’ve even used it before in my post Clever tricks to make cross stitch patterns pop. Its clever neon glow in the dark thread really brings the HUD of the pipboy, to showcase a VERY cleverly put together project.
glow in the dark fallout 3 cross stitch

And of course, where would I be without a killer Fallout piece by myself?

Fallout Vault Boy Cross Stitch
Fallout Vault Boy Cross Stitch

ITS RUINED! How to fix common cross stitch mistakes

There are two reasons you might be reading this; either you’re currently sitting over a ruined stitch, or you’ve made a few too many mistakes in the past. The good news is at some point everyone has made the same mistake, so don’t fret!

This is fine
This is fine – honestly, the house is NOT on fire.

First things first

Take a breather. If you’ve just noticed your mistake, don’t fear there is ALWAYS a way out. So lets get into the list:

Knots on the back

I should state now, you need a smaller bit of thread. As standard you should look for about a lower arms length.
If you have a small knot pull on the knot and pull towards to hoop. Then pull all the following threads tight like a shoe lace.
If the knot is big (or there’s no hoop) then this won’t do. Instead start chopping. Make sure to only cut threads involved in the knot and leave as much “free” thread as possible. Once the knot is gone and you have a series of loose strands, start stitching the surrounding area, and stitch over the loose threads. By the time you’ve finished the surrounding areas the threads will be all stitched up. Alternatively you can push the loose threads under the backs of the stitches like you would end a thread.

You’ve spilt something on it

Yeh, normally tea, right? Well this is super simple, just wash it. However as you haven’t yet finished, make sure you don’t iron it.

Missed stitch

This happens a lot. I don’t know of anyone that hasn’t managed to do it. You should really look into future ways to avoid this, like thread breaking, and fabric pens, however you have two possible solutions.

White Out

Let’s say we have a missing stitch marked on our Pikachu preforming iron tail, with a blue blob.
Pikachu pattern missing stitch 1
You could then think about removing the lines from that point on towards the end of the piece, marked with dark blue lines.
Pikachu pattern missing stitch 2
This means you have to be prepared to edit your pattern in a big way, but sometimes is the only way to get it to work. The Pikachu still looks fine:
Pikachu pattern missing stitch 3

Fill it

Depending on the stitch in question, it might not matter a whole lot, much like the Pikachu pattern, you could easily fill it with yellow and no one would ever know.

Unpick it

Well sometimes that’s the easiest way…

Wrong stitch placement

The white out technique about might be a good idea here, however for the most part you probably want to unpick what you have. But let’s say its a massive area, its obvious and you can’t do a white out. Cut it out.
Now this seems harsh, but if you cut out the offending area, and stitch a new small piece of aida on top it’ll be totally hidden by the time you finish. Easy!

Know of any other stitching disasters? Throw me an line and I’ll help!

Clever tricks to make cross stitch patterns pop

We’ve posted a few times now about How to make a cross stitch pattern perfect, How comics help create cross stitch patterns and How to finish a cross stitch pattern, but that’s not where cross stitch patterns end. There’s a final, and easy to master, last step you might want to consider. What little thing will push it just a bit beyond?

glow in the dark fallout 3 cross stitch

Make it shine with Metallics

I’ve stated here metallics, however glow-in-the-dark works too, just look at the awesome Fallout 3 cross stitch above which utilized glow in the dark so that the screen glows, just like the game. Would it have worked in just green? Yes. But now it works that little bit more. Its something a little better.
This can be done to pretty much any cross stitch as no change in actual pattern is needed, just the thread. Try a blending filament on something that’s meant to be wet to give it that extra bit of shine.

Hidden Elements

You can hide things in cross stitch all over the place. One that I love to do is hide text in the backgrounds using font specific to the theme. You can also hide things using the above method, with glow in the darks, hiding a message, or even a totally different pattern within a block of white.
The advantage of this is that the main pattern is once again, completely unaltered, however as soon as dusk falls, your piece takes on a totally different feel.

Can you read it?

This actually covers a few things, however is one of the biggest issues you might have with a pattern; language.

Do you actually need that text?

Samplers are a staple of cross stitch, and whilst that will never change, it does close off that piece to non-native speakers. Now, there are some situations where the text is completely necessary, so don’t avoid it, but think of how you might want to adapt the piece so more people can enjoy it. For example many Pokemon are named differently all over the world, but the English translations are best known.

Distance

Chances are you’ve either made the pattern or you brought the pattern because you could read it. But can others? The best way to do this is to put up the pattern and take a 10 meter walk. Turn around, and ask yourself “can I read that WELL?” The most important thing here is ‘well’, as if a passerby can’t, they won’t bother trying.

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