I often get asked “What’s the best cross stitch pattern software?” , and it shouldn’t surprise you that there are lots of options. This post details the most used programs on PC, Mac, Online and iPad with feefo review scores. Updated June 2017; PCstitch has now become the best choice PC version.
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PC Stitch is basically a carbon copy of KG Chart, which just so happened to be developed at the same time. PC Stitch is the most used software however due to better marketing. Its advantages lie in better color picking (but I would still cast an eye over them to make sure), and 2000 pre-programmed patterns. It does have its negative though, as PC Stitch uses its own unique pattern files that can’t be opened without using PC Stitch’s separate pattern viewer. However, recently many competitors have unofficially included the ability to open, view and edit PC Stitch files. You can save as PDF using PC Stitch.
WinStitch, and its Mac based brother MacStitch, have a lot going for them. With a massive 30 thread types, and great ease of use, its a fantastic competitor. However, its not been widely picked up due to its fairly young age (3 years), so does not have as much following as KG Chart or PC Stitch. In addition it only gets updated yearly. If you’ve decided against our top two programs however, its definitely worth a shot. You can save as PDF.
KG Chart has a fantastic set of stitches, incredible ease of use, and a lot of regular, and worthwhile updates. It’s been created by a non-stitcher, but their understanding of our needs is great. There’s also forums and an email for support and issues. Its the second most used program out there, and for £24 is a steal. There are however two things to note; firstly the colors can sometimes be a little red-based so require manual picking. The second issue is its a little buggy; it used to be our best pick, but as PCstitch started to improve, KG Chart just couldn’t keep up. I would also add you can’t save as a PDF without downloading another (free) program called CutePDF.
Jane Greenoff’s latest pattern maker. Unlike the previous versions that were overly complicated for new users, the new Istitch has been built with simplicity in mind. In addition there are also video guides (if you purchase the DVD version) to help new designers. As a result its the easiest to get into at first, however finding more advanced features is a little difficult, meaning a serious designer might consider another program. You can either buy the DVD version with guide videos, or the download without videos for the same price. The main issue however is that there are no updates to the program, and based on Istitch2 being a paid update of the previous version, I’d imagine you’d have to buy a new one every time Windows updates…
A very new program by the online cross stitch giant Sew and So. Its literately just been developed, and so its hard to comment on its long term prospects, however that’s also where my concerns lie. Its unlikely that an online retailer has a coder on the permanent staff, meaning its unlikely to get updates, and if they do, it will likely be a costed upgrade. A little much to as considering the high price point to begin. Its not marketed well however, which suggest this may be a Beta test for a further update. Watch this space?
The principle of MyriaCross is fantastic. A French mother wanted to learn coding, so created one of the most jam packed programs out there by a single coder. Its a fantastic program. The only thing that bothers me is that in recent updates its been updated to include other sewing styles, and cross stitch is getting less and less focus. However, it can open edit, and save PCStitch files, which is the only non-official one I know of that can do this.
Easy Cross is a nice middle man. It has a lot of great features, lots of included patterns, and loads of threads. However its a little lacking all over. There are better options out there. Equally there are a lot worse programs out there, and with a nice price point can’t really steer you too wrong.
Of all the software reviewed, this is the closest to Jane Greenoff’s previous pattern makers. However that said, there is a reason she stopped creating them 15 years ago – there are MUCH better options out there for cheaper. Apparently DP Software didn’t get the message with its frankly over inflated cost. It also works on Mac, with an unexplained £9 price difference.
You don’t hear much about STOIK programs, and I’ve never understood why. They do a great job, and are reasonably priced. They are a larger team, so updates are regular, and there is good support. The only reason is doesn’t come higher on my list is its lack of backing from the community. If you have an issue, many would suggest you change to KG Chart or PC Stitch, where there is a wealth of help and guides from the stitching community.
Stitch Painter does a lot, and is a nice alternative, but after 3 months of using it, I still can’t understand why the price is so high. Its complicated to use comparatively, and doesn’t have enough image editing capabilities. However, it does have a full version demo which doesn’t appear to run out…
HobbyWare is very much like STOIK, in fact, its pretty much identical. However, there have not been any updates for 3 years (despite often website updates), which seems a little odd. However, their customer care team is one of the best around, which is something a lot of the competitors don’t have.
StitchCraft is where many post Jane Greenoff stitchers end up. I’m not sure why, however you can definitely see the design reflected through. It is a little limited compared to its competitors, and has a highish price, but its unlimited demo is great if you want to try it out before hand. However if you enjoy the program and are thinking of buying an upgrade, I would suggest HobbyWare which has slightly more options, but the design is exactly the same.
The only free fully fledged program on the list. Well, its free, and with that comes limited use. However, if you’re looking to spend as little as possible, Stitch Art Easy! will definitely do the job. Its got everything you might need, and really helps you get your head around making patterns. If you want a little more, you have the opportunity to purchase one of the other programs, so its a great starter program. If you do upgrade, WinStitch or MacStitch is most similar in design.
All of the other reviews on this page are developed programs, officially released into the world. Cstitch however is slightly different. Its opensource. This means that no one owns the program. If you want something added to it, code it and add it yourself. This could be a little annoying, but if you got a coder friend, you might be onto a winner here.
As the only paid online creator I’ve reviewed, its no wonder patterncreator.com comes last on price, however, I would stress that its definitely the best of the online options. I would much prefer to buy a more complete version to download. It has everything you need, but limited to a maximum of 250×250 stitching area.
All online pattern makers have one big problem: limitations. However, of all the online pattern makers I’ve used, patternsforyou.com has the least. With a large 300×300 stitching area, quite good image editing and color selection, its the best one.
With a limited 150×120 stitch area its a little annoying, but the real beauty of myphotstitch.com is the ease of use. Select your image, and it does it all for you. The only options you get are changing the size (it defaults to maximum), but its the easiest of all pattern makers around. However, that said, I would suggest using the advanced version (also free), which gives a few more options.
As a craft pattern app maker, you would expect craftdesignonline to be quite good, and it is, however its clearly make for the younger market, with very limited image editing and a 100×100 stitch area. It does have a cool feature of sharing your patterns though!
If you go a poll of online pattern makers, Pic2Pat comes up fairly high. There are many arguments in its favor, such as 4 thread types, ease of use, etc. However the set sizes of the output are a little annoying.
This is the Mac version of WinStitch, our third place PC option, and whilst they are very similar, there are a few differences. That said, the creators are keen to make sure they are both kept up to date at the same regularity and the Mac version has been catching up with the PC versions recently. Its a simple to use program, it has loads of options and works super smoothly. As its a Mac program you can save as PDF natively.
OK, I tricked you. Stitchfiddle is actually an online program, however with a tonne of great features it easily competes with paid software. With some of the prices of Mac software being through the roof (see below) being free really helps StitchFiddle’s case. An easy interface, DMC & Anchor threads and a very large (2000×2000) stitching area.
This is very similar to the old Jane Greenoff pattern making software, however its updated yearly, has a limited selection, is complicated, and is VERY expensive considering its closest (and arguably a lot better) alternative is a quarter of the cost.
Another complicated to use Mac cross stitch program, Stitch Painter has lots of options, however has a limited ability to edit images, and a very high cost. On the positive side, there is a full demo which never appears to run out.
Made on a cross stitch forum this drag and drop pattern maker was abandoned mid-way through develpment, however if you already have a pixel image you want to convert its the easiest to use software across any device. It also has the best color selection of any program I’ve tested. It eventually became a free online version also reviewed here called PixelCraft.
I’ve revisited this review for 2017 after a load of new features came out. It was the best before, however now its even better. Simply put, if you have an ipad or iphone, get it. Cross Stitch Saga is a true competitor to the desktop paid versions, and as its free, even better. The new upgrade to pro gives you more stitch options, and a larger aida area to play with. Unless you’re explicitly going to need those features, don’t bother getting the upgrade, but for its low price its a steal if you want it. It has the functionality of an easy to use, basic pattern maker, but its all on ipad AND iphone (and its not hard to use either).
StitchSketch is created by the maker of KG Chart, and improves on many features KG Chart does not have. Its a fantastic program, which works almost as well as any desktop program. The only down side however is the cost (but what’s £5 compared to the highest priced review of £137?).
Cross Stitch Camera works, you guessed it, with your camera. It takes a photo (which can be from your phone’s memory) and makes a pattern based on the largest dimension you set. It does not have amount of colors to pick, it doesn’t allow for post editing, and it doesn’t produce a pdf, however, its color selections are very good. Its a bit of a quirky app, and a little lacking in features.
A new app, with a lot of potential, however due to a massive amount of bugs its yet to be actually usable ongoing. Once it has some bug fixes though, the app looks like a winner, able to open a lot of paid PC files for editing, image upload, a great color selection tool, and a highlighter so you know which bits of a pattern you’ve stitched.
A fantastic app, with fantastic reviews from anyone that uses it. Its easily comparable to the likes of paid PC software, however makes use of touch screen andorid devices to give a really good usability. The only real negatives are that it doesn’t come with instructions or a tutorial, and isn’t updated as often as other apps (yet still once a quarter). They also constantly add to the apps core features, so it will continue to develop and get better over the near future.
For only a dollar its hard to say anything bad about this app, however using this app for the last 3 months, I know its pattern making ability is great. However, without the ability to print or transfer the patterns to PC its not a fantastic part of your pattern making arsenal. You can share it via intergrated social media, however you also have to have the app to access the file, and you can’t lock it down.