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.

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.

Stitck it to the man: Heavy Metal Cross Stitch

Not quite your metallic threads, there are sections of the cross stitch world that like nothing other than heavy metal. I know I’m a massive fan, often politely listening to Maiden whilst sat at my desk in my suit, sticking it to the man. Well, these heavy metal cross stitches do exactly that too!

First up is Kate Blandford’s awesome metal skulls, some of which glow in the dark. You can even pick one up from her Etsy store.
metal-skulls-by-kate-blandford

Kate is actually a massive heavy metal cross stitch fan, as proven by her slayer series:
kate-blandford-slayer-cross-stitch

Moving away from Kate for a moment, I’m not sure this one even needs an explanation…
heavy-fing-metal-by-naught-little-stitch

Finally, another from Kate with this kick ass Beastie Boys free cross stitch pattern.
kate-blandford-fight-for-your-right-cross-stitch-pattern

So you’ve finished a pattern; but is it perfect?

We’ve made loads of guides on how to make cross stitch patterns, how to make video game cross stitch patterns and even how to make free pokemon cross stitch patterns, however we always stay away from what makes a pattern PERFECT.
Now, perfect is clearly in the eye of the beholder, and without a doubt you’ll have your own preferences, but there are a few things that will help you in making sure perfect is achievable for you.

fifth element perfect gif
More perfect that Milla Jovovich?

Story

Story. Story. Story. I can’t say it enough. Its the thing that changes the pattern the most. A standard sprite for example is a nice pattern, but to see the sprite interacting with a background, or posing the sprite in a special way; that’s what makes the difference.
The Pidgey’s below are both sprites from the first games, however the first has a custom background. Now, which looks best?
pidgey cross stitch patterns

Devil In The Detail

Details are important, and are normally the first thing people see when looking at a piece. In the below Portal pixel art patterns you can see small dots by the eyes. Whilst these could all be the same, the fact that each is detailed to that point goes to show how much more different they each are, and when placed next to each other really show up those differences.
portal companion spheres pixel art

Outside Line

In video game cross stitch in particular, the sprite is likely to come with a big black border. Now, whilst this is fine, and can be used as a feature, like most of my own work, the black line can detract from the sprite itself. Instead a very dark version of the color next to it can make a nice contrast to the sprite and make it pop more.
pikachu recolor

Shading

Somewhat connected to the outside lines, shading makes a massive difference to a piece. A heavily looked over area of pattern making is the color picking. Instead of choosing the standard sprite images, which were made to go on a white background, consider darkening them when putting them in a shaded area, or on black/dark aida. Pikachu in the example below is in a dark area, with a dark aida, so has his colors changed to suit.
pikachu darkened recolor

Top Stitch

Every good cross stitcher knows that you need to ensure the top stitch is always the same direction, so that the off stitch doesn’t stand out. Well, what if you WANT something to stand out? Now there are two ways to acheive this. The first is which orientation you want the top stitch; if you have something of interest in one corner then you want to have the top stitch oriented to point towards it (your eye naturally follows the top stitch).
The second way to utilize this is to change the orientation of the item of interest, and thus bring your eyes to it.
What I will say is this works so much better in person that through images, but its definitely something to consider.

Signature

Last of all, theres the signature. You may not sign your works, but if you do, consider its placement.
You see a lot of people adding the signture to the bottom right just outside of the peice, however every other kind of artist does it *inside* the corner. Why not follow suit?
Alternatively there is the Japanese approach of signing on the top corner, bringing attention to the well thought out signature of the artist.
Or what about an inverse colored name seal?

These are just a few ideas to help you make a pattern, a superb pattern.
Big thanks to our Pokemon & Portal friends for a helping hand.

Free Pokemon Baubles Cross Stitch Pattern

With Christmas on the horizon its not too surprising that people have been asking me for my Pokemon baubles. These are actually designed by ristvak over at SpriteStitch but I was the first to stitch them, so I still get asked about them all the time!

xmas pokemon baubles cross stitch pattern

You can download the patterns over on Sprite Stitch.

I’ve seen a few versions of these, including some swell ones with neon bulbs on pikachu, so go nuts and experiment!

Christmas Pokemon Bauble Cross Stitches
Christmas Pokemon Bauble Cross Stitches