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.

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!

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.