Yeh, you heard that right; instead of focusing on just one pattern this week, we’re focusing on Robin’s Design as a whole. You may have seen their work on the site before, as part of the best 3D cross stitch or maybe saw her listed as my inspiration for my Harry Potter Golden Snitch cross stitch.
Unlike anyone else I’ve been able to find in the cross stitch pattern community, Robin’s Design produces amazing, and complex 3D objects, like globes, animals, people, characters, dice and more, yet somehow always makes the patterns super esy to follow. If you haven’t already, you NEED to check out her Etsy, as frankly, its amazing. There are over 100 3D patterns!
When it comes to finishing your cross stitch, there aren’t many things that go through your head other than “I need to show this to everyone!”, however many people feel unsure or confused about framing. However, that really doesn’t need to be the case. We’ve got a detailed guide on how to frame cross stitch on the blog already, but there is one big question that keeps coming up; should I add glass or not?
Sadly, this is one of those questions that doesn’t have an absolute answer. Sometimes you should, and sometimes you shouldn’t.
When You Should
In most cases, when you frame cross stitch, you should use glass. There are loads of benefits, such as keeping it clean, stopping strong sunlight and making it look more professional. However all of those things can only be achieved if you frame your cross stith correctly. Let’s look at the parts of a frame to get a better look at this:
When you want to protect it
As you can see from above, there are loads of parts to a standard frame, and each of these has their own purpose. The big two we’ll look at though, are the glass (obviously) and the window mat. This window mat is often the thing people forget, however its purpose is to keep the work away from the glass. In most cases this isn’t too important, but when it comes to cross stitch, where the stitches extend beyond the aida, its super important. Without it, the stitches get squashed against the frame.
When its required for the pattern
Sometimes however, you might need to get rid of the matting. And that’s fine! Take my Star Trek Voyager LCARS cross stitch for example. I wanted to make it look like it was a computer screen on a wall, and as a result putting in matting would ruin the look. But I still used glass. How did I get away with that? I used spacers. There are loads of different types, but they all work the same way; small bits of plastic that push the glass away from the cross stitch.
You don’t like the look of framed work
But what if you don’t like the idea of framed work? Well, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t frame it. Take a look at the example below I found on Reddit. It’s a pacman screenshot cross stitch, fairly average (although well stitched) and when framing it, they added a bold yellow matting. The framing technique here has allowed the whole piece to stand out like a classic arcade cabinet. Now, bright yellow might not work for the cross stitch you’re doing, but by using clever framing, you can not only add to the cross stitch, but elevate it.
When You Should Not
Now, that said, there are times when you should ditch the glass. By doing this, you’ll loose the benefits of having glass, so you need to be more careful (see our tips at the bottom of the page) but sometimes glass just won’t work.
When you don’t like the glass
Yes, you can have a glass preference. 😛
When it comes to glass, some people don’t like the shine it creates, and if your artwork is somewhere glare is a problem, then you might know what I mean. So glass companies came up with solutions. Two specifically. The first is a slightly bumpy textured glass, which in my opinion makes the artwork harder to see. If you had a small count, this wouldn’t work. Equally, there is another type with a green coating on it (like eye glasses) which ruins the look if you’ve stitching with anything other than green.
The only solution? Ditch the glass.
When its required for the pattern
The other instance when you might not include glass is when its required for the pattern. Now, there really aren’t many patterns like this, so I’ve had to use another example of mine. In the below Pokemon 3D cave cross stitch you can see the cross stitch extends out of the frame, by nearly 30cm. There was no way I could frame this with glass, so I had to ditch it.
Tips for framing without glass
As seen above, sometimes there is a valid reason for not framing with glass, and honestly, that’s not a problem. However there are impacts of not framing with glass. With these tips, you should be able to keep those to a minimum!
Make sure its washed and ironed before you frame it; it’ll last longer
Keep it away from direct sunlight; the threads will keep their color longer
Use a special acid-free backing paper for framing to stop dust leeching into the artwork
Whilst there is a wealth of coke related cross stitch pattern goodness on Etsy, most are old adverts or christmas related. However most people search for Coke patterns in spring and summer. My memories of that time normally relate to cracking open a can. So of course, I had to pick a Coca Cola can.
DJStitches, who made this pattern, is a bit of a cross stitch can specialist, with all of the images made pixel by pixel. Whilst this isn’t particularly important normally, when choosing the reds for the can, its super important. By hand picking colors you can ensure that the image you see above, is the image you’re going to get stitched, making it a truly wonderful example of that classic Coke.
More of a diet coke fan? He has one of those too.
If you’ve ever inherited a stash of cross stitch supplies you’ll know that you’re both super lucky, and super confused. You see, most people cast off those little thread top labels, meaning you no longer know if the threads you have are generic, or specialist. Being able to identify these threads, or a too-good-to-be-true online sale, is important. You could compare the colors to a color chart, you could look at the quality of the thread, or even the label that’s left on it, but no one has time for that. Especially as there is a 100% guarenteed way to work out what brand your thread is; the barcode.
How to tell
I’m not going to go in depth about barcodes here, but if you’re super interested, this is how barcodes work. The important bit of information for us, is the start. Specifically the first 2 to 6 numbers.
The first two numbers state where the brand’s head quarters are. For DMC is in the US. For Anchor its France, and for CXC (and generic threads) its China. The next four numbers are the brand’s own code. Now, whilst it would be great to remember all of these numbers, its frankly not going to happen. Lucky for us, there aren’t that many brands, and most have different head office locations, so instead, we learn just the first 2 numbers.
DMC – 07
Anchor – 71
CXC & generic – 69
It’s that simple. If you see a barcode starting with 71, you know you have Anchor threads. So now you can go out and
But what about generic and branded Chinese threads?
OK, so this is where it get’s a little more confusing. You see, almost all the embroidery threads that come out of China come from the same factory. Specifically, brand 69-4696. So if its Chinese, we need to do a little more digging. Now, we look at the end 2 numbers. There are two numbers that really matter, 14 and 41. You see each item made by a brand has different number for each type of product. In the brand of importance, 14 stands for the CXC threads. 41 stands for Rosace threads. Now, I you’re going to be asking one of two questions at this point:
Is CXC the same as generic?
What are Rosace threads?
Well, the answer to those is simple. The same factory produces LOADS of different threads. Some are made well, some are made cheap. CXC are the brands top quality product, even though they are CONSIDERABLY cheaper than DMC or Anchor. Rosace is their low tier product line. In fact, when you purchase generic threads, they’re almost always Rosace.
And its that simple. Now go out and identify those threads!
Finding a cross stitch pattern that shows off any season can be hard, but summer is a particularlly hard one. With summers looking different everywhere, and frankly there are only so many sun images you can take.
And that’s why this week, we’re showing off this summer window by MariBoriEmbroidery. Unlike any of the other summer patterns I looked out, it doesn’t involve a sun, its a generic background, and doesn’t have any fancy words. But what it does have, is feeling. The subtle net curtains made up using sashiko, with heavier parts thanks to double patterns, it makes it look like the curtains are flowing in the soft summer wind.
We have a lot of people using our skin tone thread image to replace skin tones in cross stitch patterns. However we also get a lot of requests for hair colors too. So without further ado, we present the best hair colors for replacement in cross stitch patterns.
Just pick your hair type (blonde, brown, black, grey or red) and pikc a color of the main body of hair from the left hand column, and you’ll see the best highlights and shadows.
We’ve also created this second table so you can look up colors slightly different. It’s the same info, just a different format!
An octopus with a space pattern jumping out of a tea cup may not be the first thing you think of when you think about a cross stitch pattern relating to tea, but we’d argue that this pattern is exactly like a cup of tea. When looking at tea patterns we found a whole slew of cups, kettles, tea bags and other tea related items, but that’s exactly what they were; just items. This pattern, sold by LoLaLottaShop but designed by Vik Dollin shows what its like sipping a cup of tea. The complex flavour battling together is like the wild space design, whilst its warm, calming, hugs from many hands feeling is like an octopus giving you a hug. This pattern is a fantastic example of what drinking tea really is.
It helps that its totally unique too; how many other octopus/space/tea hybrid cross stitch patterns are there?
Finally, it should be noted that we included this pattern on a list of how to find great cross stitch patterns online. It was such a good pattern, that we featured it. If that’s not a show of admiration, I don’t know what is.
With websites like Etsy, eBay and a whole host of other sites selling cross stitch patterns, you could be fooled into thinking all of these cross stitch patterns are going to great to stitch. But the frank, and sometimes disappointing truth is that some, even most, are bad patterns.
Whilst that might not seem too bad considering the cost of some of these cross stitch patterns are less than $5, however do you really want to spend 100 hours stitching to find only at the end that the pattern didn’t live up to the hype?
Well I’m here to help you pick the best quality cross stitch patterns, everytime. With these 5 simple rules, you can make sure the cross stitch pattern will come out like its supposed to.
Is there a stitched example?
The first thing to think about when selecting a cross stitch pattern is how it looks. Not the design, but how it looks stitched.
A lot of sellers, particularly on Etsy, sell patterns without ever stitching them. This is worrying for two reasons; firstly you don’t know how the image actually looks with threads; just computer generated Xs. Secondly, with no one actually stitching it, you don’t know if its full of confetti or not. As a result, I would NEVER buy a pattern without seeing a real stitched example.
But that doesn’t mean any post without a stitched example should be avoided. Let me explain using two examples of good patterns from Etsy.
The above pattern is a great example of someone who shows a stitched example, they have 8 pictures of 6 stitched examples on their store front. You can see, this is a great pattern. Our second example below however only has the inital computer make pattern image:
However, with some searching in the comments on the shop, you can see 4 different stitched examples by customers. This pattern, is a good one. They just haven’t stitched it themselves. So sometimes, you have to go searching!
Look for stitch and color counts
When it comes to cross stitch patterns, sometimes, you need it to be high detail. And that’s great, but when you put an image through a cross stitch pattern generator without knowing what you’re doing, it comes out massive, with a lot of colors, and whole load of confetti.
Once again, we’ll look at the Octopus Tea cross stitch pattern by LoLaLottaShop on Etsy. In the octopus you have a wave of colors and detail. But they’ve specifially gone through the image to both reduce the size, amount of colors and still keep the design to a high standard. However looking at the below example I’ve recreated another way; making it big, and adding as many colors as I could. In the below example is over 300 stitches wide, and has over 50 colors. Yet the quality, is clearly not as good.
A big pattern will look like it has a lot of detail, however the sacrafice is a lot of threads (which can cost a fortune) and making it truly hell to stitch.
Is it copyrighted?
Yes. Copyright; everyone’s least favorite topic. Sadly, in cross stitch copyright is a serious problem. A simple tip often used is to ask yourself “is it a recognisable character/image?” and normally, you can side step most major copyright holders. However, that doesn’t mean the pattern you’re about to buy isn’t copyrighted.
Imagine a pattern that envokes feelings of Disney; its fan art of some kind. Looks like a painting. It’s nicely done. This might not be copyrighted by Disney, as its fan art. But the maker of the cross stitch pattern is almost definately not the artwork’s original creator. That original creator, has copyright on his image. ALWAYS look to see any copyright messaging on cross stitch patterns before you buy. Using our Octopus Tea Cross Stitch Pattern again, we can see a little message in the notes:
“Octopus” counted cross stitch pattern. Designed by Vik Dollin.
We can see that this pattern has been made by someone else and the permission was given to make a cross stitch pattern. You should always be able to see a message like this, even if it is created by the pattern designer.
Is the price super low? Its probably stolen.
Another possible issue plaguing sites like Etsy are stolen patterns. Some people purchase a pattern from a reputable place, such as floss and mischief, who recently won awards for her cross stitch patterns two years running, and then they’ll sell them on at a really really low price.
As a result, you should look at price. Most cross stitch patterns (not kits) sell between $5 and $20, based on size and complexity. However a quick search of Etsy and I can see some patterns sold for as low as 20 cents. No designer worth their salt can produce quality patterns for anything less than $5 a time.
If you see any lower than that, they’re either stolen from someone or seriously poor quality.
When researching for this post we actually found my Pokemon Great Wave Cross Stitch sold, using my images. The issue is that I’ve never released this pattern. Instead they put my image, with watermark through pattern making software. The result was nothing like the original, and even included my watermark…
Is it from a reputable source?
This one is a little more difficult to judge. If you were to buy a pattern from, lets say peacock & fig you’d know its a quality pattern. The reason, is that she’s a real designer (who does it as a day job) and is bound by laws as she’s making her living from it. But places like Etsy and eBay are known to have issues with copyright. Therefore you need to be far more careful when selecting patterns from these sites. Equally, the rise of Aliexpress in cross stitch is a serious problem; a lot of these patterns are stolen, of bad quality or just knock off (don’t start us about the kits), therefore I wouldn’t suggest buying any patterns.
OK, this one isn’t actually about finding quality cross stitch patterns, but it is important (its also our 6th point, sorry!). Cross stitch designers regularly make little to no profit and so when you find a pattern you like; don’t give it to a friend once you’re finished. Tell them about it, so they can buy a copy themselves. If everyone shared their patterns; the best designers wouldn’t be able to make more patterns.
And that’s it! With a few simple steps you can see if the pattern you want to buy, is going to be a good one or not. I hope this helps, and enjoy never having a bad pattern ever again!
This weeks theme, is dinosaurs. Whilst you can find a whole load of Jurassic Park inspired cross stitch patterns online, its rare to see a skeleton. Mostly, this is down to how dang hard they are to turn into patterns. However SongThread has not only managed to make super accurate dino skeletons, but put a whole load of fun into them with the addition of a crazy cat. Whilst I’m a self confessed dog fan, these are just too good to pass up.