Washing, Drying & Ironing

Having mastered the art of cross stitch you’re now looking to display it, however there is often an over looked step.
When you’ve been stitching a while you’ll find out exactly why washing is important. But even I would admit I never really gave it credit when I started, and I’ve seen the problems first hand.

Its all about finger juice. Yeh, you heard me. More specifically the thin layer of oil around your fingers to help you grip things. This oil is fairly innocuous, and doesn’t do any damage on its own, however it bonds with the thread. When it bonds the thread takes on the same characteristics and can grip to things. Specifically dirt.
To make things worse, if you leave your thread out in the sun it will brown (quite considerably). Even worse if you’ve ironed without washing!

Unless you have yourself a house trained raccoon, you have to do the washing yourself. And its not obvious as you might think, but don’t worry, its easy. So lets jump in.

racoon washing

Washing

The problem with washing cross stitch is that the threads and aida aren’t treated dyes like your clothes. As a result they bleed heavily. In addition if you use special threads like metalics or glow in the dark threads they have metals or plastics in them which react differently. But there is a tried and tested way you can clean ANY cross stitch. This is even what you need to do if you’ve got dirt on your ironed piece.

There are two things you need. Ones a bowl, big enough to hold your piece (it can be rolled to fit, but don’t fold it). The second can be slightly harder to find; non-colored, non-bleached, non-abrasive dish soap. This is actually easy to find, but its always in an obscure place to see in the super market, so you might have to nose around a little bit.

Once you have everything, fill the bowl with water. COLD water. The colder the better in fact. This is the thing that stops the threads loosing their color.
Add 1 drop of dish soap per 5 liters (a normal washing up bowl is about 10). Then very slowly pass your hand through the bowl to mix it, making sure no bubbles form.
Then place the cross stitch on top and let it sink. Wait 15 minutes.

Drying

That was washing. Simple as letting it sit for 15 minutes. All it does it wash the oils through so they are more dilute so won’t bond to the thread. As a result you don’t need to rub it off the cross stitch.
However all that water has left the threads weak, and the aida very pliable. Drying the correct way is the only way to make sure the finished piece is flat. You often pull the aida out of shape slightly when stitching, and the washing will release all of that stretch, leaving your piece warped. As a result we dry in two stages.

Firstly, its VERY wet, so we need to take the bulk of water off. Get a towel large enough to place the cross stitch on, and roll from one edge to the other. Leave this for 5-15 minutes depending on the size of the piece (the larger pieces need longer, but if you’ve used plastic canvas it needs at least 20 minutes).

Pinning

Once the time is up unroll. This stage could have a whole entry devoted to itself, there are a lot of different ways to do it, and people have come up with some creative ideas. However I’ll tell you two ways. The idea here is to stretch the canvas out again.

Most people call this pinning as, you guessed it, there are pins involved. The first way does involve pins, but if you don’t have any to hand, move to the second option. You want to have a flat surface you can pin. I know that might be unlikely in some houses, so you can also use a flat bit of aida left over (or even a bed sheet). If your backing is fabric, stretch that out first to make sure its flat. Then take your cross stitch and place it on top. Put a pin in a corner. Then in the opposite corner pull it as far as possible, and pin it. Do this all they way around the cross stitch. You should put a pin every inch/2 cm around the edge. Then let it dry some more! It’s likely to take about 2 days to dry fully.

No pins? No problem. Get two pegs and roll your project on its longest side. Do it tightly so there is 1 cm gap in the center. Then pin the edges down so the roll holds. This method uses the aida against itself, meaning it can’t warp. But it also means it takes AGES to dry. I would give it at least a week before you unroll. I would also make sure you put it somewhere dry and breezy instead of damp and humid.

Ironing

So its washed, great. Now it won’t get dirty in the sun. However what happens if you accidentally spill something on it? If its something like fruit juice it will stain. However there is a super easy way to stop this. Ironing. Basically it heats the threads up enough that they secrete their own natural oils, which seal the threads (this is how sheep stay dry if you’ve ever wondered). But if you throw the iron on top of your cross stitch its going to flatten it, so lets go about this the right way.

Get a towel and dampen it slightly. You could do this under the tap, but make sure its not dripping if you pull it taught. Its only meant to be JUST damp. I tend to iron before the washing is fully dry, so I use a towel in the washing. Heat the iron up to the highest level, and remove the steam.
Cross stitch face up on the ironing board, towel on top. Then iron, using a large amount of pressure.

Remember I was talking about getting dirt on your finished piece? Well now any dirt should just wash away!
Not too hard, was it? Just need to frame it now or if you have too many like me; you’ll need to store it somewhere.

Create your own free Pokemon cross stitch pattern online

Aime Cox of aimecx.com originally wrote this super sweet post on how to do free Pokemon cross stitch patterns yourself online. Not only is it a great guide, but it uses Porygon as the example!

I love Pokémon, nowhere near as much as I love Digimon but that might well be another post. My boyfriend Alex also loves Pokémon, probably more than I do and probably more than the non-nerd society thinks a 28-year old man should.

As I’m such a bitchin’ girlfriend, I decided to create a Pokémon cross stitch for Alex to make up for being a bit cruddy at chores, working all the time and worst of all, dual-screening during Masterchef. So, Project Porygon was born.

porygon cross stitch

Project Porygon!

Before I get started, I must mention that there are some alternatives available, Makibird-Stitching on DeviantArt has created some spiffing patterns that you can download for personal use.
You can also pay for templates from various etsy stores, but I’m a much bigger fan on investing about 15 minutes to save myself some dolla dolla bill y’all.

In my previous post I mentioned how searching for ‘sprites’ through Google images can help you find some really simple cross stitch patterns for beginners.

This method can also be used to create your own not-so-simple Pokémon cross stitch patterns.

1. Find a good source of Pokémon sprites

There’s literally a butt-load available. I like this one, this one and this one. Visit one of these links, and find an angle of a Pokémon that appeals to you. I chose the one in the triangle below.

porygon sprites

Generation 4 was a strong one for porygon.

Right click, or drag and drop, to save the sprite to your desktop.

2. Convert the sprite to a JPG

Most of the sprites available are PNGs, the next program we’re going to use can’t cope with transparent backgrounds so it’s important to convert the file in order to have a white background.

If you’re on a Mac, you can open the file in Preview, select ‘Duplicate’ and then change the file format to JPG.

If you’re on a PC, you can do the same in MS Paint by opening the file and selecting ‘Save As’ . Again, you need to choose ‘JPG’ from the drop-down.

You could also use these opportunities to trim any excess white space off the image – this will make your pattern easier in the long run.

saving as png - porygon

3. Upload to My Photo Cross Stitch

This site is so cool considering it’s totally free. Visit this link and select ‘Advanced’ from the primary navigation at the top of the page.

Now, click ‘Select Image’ and upload your shiny new JPG. There’s a field to add the maximum number of thread colours. Be prepared to play around with this as each Pokémon is different. I find 5-8 is enough.

Pick coloured boxes or symbols, or both, I like coloured boxes but each to their own. Then simply select ‘Make Pattern’ et voilà! A beautiful pattern that you can download as a PDF, print or save it to a cloud drive for use on the road.

Porygon cross stitch 2

Porygon cross stitch final piece, still working out what to do with it.

And that’s it. Let me know in the comments how you got on with creating your own pattern!

How do I make a free video game cross stitch pattern?

I went over how to make a cross stitch pattern a few weeks ago, however if you want to make a video game cross stitch, you actually have a slightly different set of options.

There are a few reasons for this, but the main ones are:

  • You can edit your pattern heavily
  • You work on a very small scale
  • You work with a limited color palette

In short, you’re making far more of the pattern than you would normally. In the below example I’m going to go through the whole guide using a space invader being eaten by pacman.

Pacman eating space invader free pattern

Collecting your sprites

If you weren’t aware, the little characters in video games are called sprites. And the first step for any project is to get the sprites needed for your project. There are loads of dedicated sprite websites out there such as The Spriters Resource and Sprite Database, you could always search google images for the relevant characters like I have.
However you do it, make sure you save your images as PNG. This is to make sure the image quality is still super high.

Space Invader and Pacman Sprite

Resize your images

The chances are good that your sprites are the correct size to start, however you’ll want to zoom in on the sprite to check, I would suggest something like paint, but Photoshop works well too.
You’re looking for is one pixel being over more than one pixel when zoomed in. If this is the case, you need to resize the image down to make sure its perfect. As you can see in the image below, we’ve resized the Space Invader. However, both pixel characters look good together, but I want an image where it looks like Pacman is eating the Invader, so I’ve made Pacman bigger.

Resized sprites

Image editing

In the example below, I’m happy with the image I have, however this would be the time you may way to change things. This could be changing hair color, adding parts, removing parts or adding a background. The options are yours.
The great thing about video game cross stitch is you can do ANYTHING to the sprites you want.

Pattern creation

So now you have to make a choice, and its based on colors. One way (option 1) we’ll manually pick the colors out, the other way (option 2) this will all be done for us.
Colors are very important for any pattern, if one color is slightly off, it ruins the look, however in video game cross stitch this is even more important, as the color of Pikachu is THAT yellow, so you need to make sure its perfect. There are two questions I ask myself; how many colors are there? and Will an off color ruin it?
If the answer is more than 20 colors and it won’t ruin the pattern to have one off color, then go for option 2. Otherwise, always go option 1.

Option 1

You’re willing to pick out your on colors; great! This is how I do most of my patterns. The even better bit about this however is you can do it all from your image editing program. The first thing you need to do, is check the options. You’ll see that you can add a grid over your image. Well, this is the grid of your fabric, you’ve just made a pattern!

pattern example

But you do still need to pick colors. This is where a pattern chart comes in handy; you can see one here for DMC threads. You now need to select each color and pick a thread. Once you’re done, you can start stitching!

Option 2

The second option is a lot easier. We’re going to use an online pattern maker called MyPhotoStitch.com.
Its super easy to use, just save your image, upload it, and it spits out the pattern, colors and all!

And that’s it! Easy.

Sprite Stitch Best Bits – May ’16

Sprite Stitch Best Bits

May has been an EPIC month on SpriteStitch! So prepare yourself for a crazy packed post!
First up is a 3D mother of dragons from Game of Thrones by rhabem. They’ve even made the mini dragons!
game of thrones by rbaren

On a 3D front I’ve created a super miniature Pokemon city.
pokemon-city-w500

And following on from Pokemon (yeh, they’re all connected!), is stichmonds Pokemon Gym. And if anyone is wondering, yes, I do go to the gym. Even if its the Pokemon one…
pokemon gym by stitchmond

I mentioned last month our challenge of a quote and showed the winning piece, but I really wanted to give a shout out to rbaron’s “…” piece too.
pokemon quote by rbaron
If you’re interested in joining a challenge, this month its ‘royalty’ in aid of the British Queen’s 90th birthday.

Next up is a super tiny count Sonic and Knuckles Doomsday Zone stitch by malfore.
sonic and knuckles by malfore

And stitchmond is back again with some quality medical advice. Watch out kids!
dr mario by stitchmond

Cour2010’s super saiyan is fantastic!
Super Saiyan by cour2010

But let’s not forget stitchmonds star wars samplers.
star wars samplers by stitchmond

And then there’s my Joust 3D arcade cabinet. It was even posted on stitchgasm last week!
joust_w500_by_lordlibidan-d9zcqss

See you next month!

What’s the best cross stitch pattern software?

I get the question “What’s the best cross stitch pattern software?” at least a handful of times at each convention, and there are hundreds of forum posts with titles like “What cross stitch pattern software should I use?“. Well, there is no set answer. It shouldn’t surprise you that there are HUNDREDS of options out there. This article details the top used programs on PC, Mac, Online and iPad based on feefo reviews. It’s now been updated for 2017 with new discount codes.

Jump to PC
Jump to PC (Free)
Jump to Online
Jump to Mac
Jump to iPad


Best PC cross stitch pattern software:

KG Chart ($35) – 9/10

Based on 947 reviews

PC Stitch ($50) – 9/10

Based on 1024 reviews
You should also use the code “PCS11UPG” to save $30 when you buy!

WinStitch ($52) – 8/10

Based on 745 reviews

Sew and So Cross Stitch Designer ($131) – 6/10

Based on 12 reviews

MyriaCross ($50) – 6/10

Based on 374 reviews

Easy Cross ($87) – 6/10

Based on 352 reviews

DP Software Cross Stitch Pro Platinum ($182) – 5/10

Based on 47 reviews

STOIK Stitch Creator ($51) – 5/10

Based on 98 reviews

Stitch Painter ($199) – 5/10

Based on 23 reviews

HobbyWare Pattern Maker for cross-stitch ($60) – 4/10

Based on 42 reviews

StitchCraft ($144) – 3/10

Based on 22 reviews

Stitch Art Easy! (FREE) – 4/10

Based on 14 reviews

Cstitch (FREE) – 3/10

Based on 4 reviews


Best Online cross stitch pattern software:

patterncreator.com ($7.50) – 8/10

Based on 257 reviews

patternsforyou.com (FREE) – 7.5/10

Based on 1042 reviews

myphotostitch.com (FREE) – 7/10

Based on 302 reviews

StitchBoard (FREE) – 6/10

Based on 57 reviews

craftdesignonline (FREE) – 5/10

Based on 46 reviews

Pic2Pat (FREE) – 5/10

Based on 78 reviews


Best MAC cross stitch pattern software:

MacStitch ($52) – 8/10

Based on 526 reviews


Best iPad cross stitch pattern software:

Cross Stitch Saga (FREE ($4 upgrade)) – 9/10

Based on 127 reviews

StitchSketch ($8) – 7/10

Based on 59 reviews

Cross Stitch Camera ($4) – 5/10

Based on 36 reviews

Cross Stitch HD ($5) – 5/10

Based on 23 reviews

Below you’ll find a full table review made by myself with all the features:
Cross Stitch Pattern Maker Comparison Table
I’ve also created a great infographic on which is the best cross stitch pattern software for easy selection.

Super Miniature 3D Ecruteak City Cross Stitch

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Title: Ecruteak City
Date Completed: May 2016
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Video Game: Pokemon

After playing with a miniature arcade cabinet, I wondered just how small I could go.
I’ve been throwing a lot of ideas around following a trip to Japan, and I started by making a torii gate. It just evolved from there. I’ve made the Pokemon Ecruteak City.
Ecruteak City is actually different in the anime, manga, and games, and so this is a combination of a series of images and video to make the most generalised city.
The bell tower (tin tower originally) is the main feature of the city, which has 9 floors with purple roofs, complete with a golden stand on top, to draw the legendary Pokemon Ho-oh. The opposite side sits the ill-fated burnt tower, with only 2/3 floors left, where the legendary Lugia. Both are on raised land masses to add to their height.
You can also find a Pokemon center, gym, PokeMart, zen garden, two red bridges, a pagoda, cherry tree, a blank house tile (which has always featured in both games and anime), and trees surrounding the whole city.
It’s 3.5″ by 3.5″, and 4″ tall.

ecruteak city

Is Cross Stitch Dead?

A horrific thought, I know; but with many cross stitch forums suffering with low engagement, and the size of haberdasheries getting smaller in all the major stores, is it time to face facts?

The stats

I know, a graph straight away! How mean of me. But its the best way of showing the facts (and there’s only one, I promise!). I’ve used google trends to create a report since 2005, showing cross stitch and embroidery.
cross stitch google trends
The first thing to note, is that they’ve both dropped since their initial high (more on that later), but it also shows that cross stitch has JUST dropped. Other than monthly variance, the general trend is down.
But does this actually show you a true story? I don’t think it does. There are three main reasons for this:

  • Initial guide surge
  • Category dip
  • Knowledge

Initial guide surges: Back in the earlier days of the internet, you went to find out how to do something. And whilst there are loads of great guides out there for cross stitch now; there wasn’t back in 2005. Now-a-days with the rise of cross stitch, (almost) everyone knows how to stitch. As a result, less people are searching in google for it.

Category dip: I used to work in category analysis, so I’ll keep this brief. Following the economic dip, craft in general got a major boost, and cross stitch rode the wave. However as recession comes to a close, and the average person has more money, craft is starting to decline. So the question here is actually, is cross stitch dipping faster? And the answers no. A big fat no. Craft in general is dropping out at a massively fast pace, mainly due to the rise of baking.

Knowledge: I know. Not what you expected. However as all cross stitchers know, cross stitch is a form of embroidery. With people pushing the envelope when it comes to new ways of stitching, the lines are being blurred a bit. Embroidery is a better term for it sometimes.

So is that a yes?

I’m sad to say that the popularity of cross stitch is definitely dropping. Whilst this is sad to hear from the die hard community, its definitely far from dead. I work in a company turning over £10 million a year, and our keyword gets maybe half as many views as cross stitch. And we’re growing faster than we can count! So no, its not dead.

Will it make the slightest bit of difference?

No. No it won’t.

Actually, that’s one of the best things about cross stitch. Throughout history its gone through peaks and troughs of interest, and despite that it keeps coming back. Why should now be any different? In fact, most recently I’ve seen cross stitch in museums, been published (and again), and without meaning to brag, my site views are through the roof. So long as amazing pieces are still being produced, we have no issues!

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