A cross stitch calculator is basically a requirement for all stitchers. Sure, if you wanted you could do the maths, but who has time? And who want’s to check it three times over to make sure its right? Neh, instead, pull out the calculator. There are a few out there now, each doing slightly different things. We’re going to roundup all the best ones in one post, with their pros and cons.
This post has started for a simple reason; I wasn’t happy with the ones available. So I took all the best features from all of the below calculators and combined them into one. Which we (of course) belive is the best, but we’ve also got loads of support from reddit!
Yarntree’s calculator has previously held the title as the best due to its extra features. It allows you to select extra aida a the sides for framing and gives you both inches and centimeters, but it also simplifies this down by just asking it you want it or not, doing all the fancy maths in the background.
Barely known for anything else, needlework tips & tricks’ calculator has gained a lot of momentum due to it being more mobile compatible than the others mentioned (other than our own), however will a lot less options, tends to be a quick reference calculator to give an approximate, and not exact measurements.
It really shouldn’t surprise you that social media is one of the first options here. And it really shouldn’t surprise you that instagram is the most important one. As a primarily image based sharing platform its craft following is really quite massive, with people regularly getting up to 10,000 followers. What’s even better is the engagement with people is super high.
Other social media
Other social media is pretty much the same as the above, but unlike instagram you need to limit the text, limit the hashtags, and you’ll get less of an impact on posts. But, you can post multiple times for more love!
DeviantArt is similar to a few other things on this list, however as the largest online artist sharing platform, its obvious that this is where you want your work. It requires a little more effort to get popularity than social media platforms, but with over 10 million finished pieces on its databases you’ll be addicted in no time.
Forums are SUPER at self promotion. There are loads out there, but big highlights are craftster, crossstitchforum or more specific sites like SpriteStitch. The great thing about forums is they’re full of your peers, meaning you can get tips, help out others, and of course, promote your work. We recently went through all the best cross stitch forums so you can find your community.
Now we start getting more technical. There are loads of blogging platforms out there such as wordpress, blogger or tumblr which makes it super easy to create a website. Over time you’ll get more and more people following your site, and can help out the community with awesome posts like this.
How to do it
So now you know where to upload it, is there an easier way? The answer is yes; automation. If you’re making a website, there are plugins you can get that post to all of these are more. And if you’re not, you could use a tool like Zapier or IFTTT, which post across all.
Have you got any preferred ways to promote your work? I’d love to hear them in the comments!
I’m going to suggest three different ways of making a truly awesome pattern here, each of them are SUPER simple to do.
The initial idea when trying to make an awesome cross stitch is to add something, but before we get there, think about removing something. The below storm trooper helmet cross stitch originally had a full outline which the designer decided to forgo. Its placement on a white aida hoop makes it really work, and as not many people think to remove bits, its rarely seen, making it more unusual.
Ok, you can add things too. Sometimes its more detail, or an extra joke, but in the case of the below, one of a massive series, is an instagram sepia filter, making it moody and dark.
I’ve shown off the work of Johan Ronstrom before, as he’s the true master of the craft, but you can always combine patterns to make something truly weird. The below image takes a sweet Breaking Bad reference and combines it with a kitsch flowery boarder to really make the evil face stand out. Perfect.
I have a pattern, but I want to make it break the internet!
Now you have a pattern, the hard but is done for you. All the images below started off as standard patterns and have been edited in some way to really make them pop. I actually devoted a whole post to making a cross stitch pop but that relied on you not making a pattern yet. The truth however is that you’re going to be doing the same things. In the below image, by replacing the suggested blue threads with a glow in the dark thread, the piece lights up ever so slightly in the day, giving it the illusion of real neon.
In addition is this pattern we’ve featured on our best Harry Potter cross stitch as its a brilliant example of pattern hacking. The original pattern was entirely black, but by choosing to stitch the golden stitch gold, its taken a whole new edge to the piece. I imagine you could go further, stitching in a metallic thread, or even putting small silver details on the snitch.
Got any other ways of making awesome cross stitch? Drop me a line below.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
Let’s say we have a missing stitch marked on our Pikachu preforming iron tail, with a blue blob.
You could then think about removing the lines from that point on towards the end of the piece, marked with dark blue lines.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
If this is a kit, it will contain aida fabric, needle, threads, and the pattern. You will also need a small pair of scissors.
If it is a kit, use the aida fabric supplied, if not, you can use any size aida, however 14 count is the most common. The higher the number, the smaller your finished project will be. The count means there are that many stitches to an inch in length.
It is best to start in the middle of your project. This is marked on the pattern by small triangles along the outside. To find the center, fold the fabric, then fold it again. Once opened up, where the creases cross, is the center.
To help you during stitching you can also put your fabric in a hoop. This will increase the tension, and allow a neater final product. However you shouldn’t keep your project in a hoop for a long time, as it will put heavy creases in it.
Following Your Chart
One square = one cross stitch
Ever symbol on the pattern refers to a specific thread. Use the color key to select the color.
Backstitch is marked by solid lines. Do the cross stitches first, then the backstitch on top.
Some patterns may contain 1/4, 1/2 or 3/4 stitches, refer to the key at the end of these instructions to identify these.
How To Stitch
Each thread is made up of 6 individual strands. Unless stated otherwise, use two strands for the cross stitches, and one for the backstitch.
Keep the length of thread short to avoid knotting. The best length is the distance between tip of your longest finger, to your elbow. If the thread starts to twist, let the needle freely dangle and wait until it stops spinning.
Each cross stitch is composed of two separate stitches. The diagonal stitch going from left to right, and the diagonal stitch going from right to left.
You should always do one row of stitches, doing only one diagonal of each stitch, then go back and go the top stitch.
You should always have the same diagonal direction on top of the stitches, normally the top stitch goes from left to right.
Stitch colors in blocks. Start with darker colors, and go lighter.
You can either fix your threads with a small knot on the back, or you can anchor the thread. To anchor your thread, pass the needle from the back of the fabric to front. Make sure not to pull it completely through the fabric, but to leave an inch of thread. As you make stitches, try to ensure the end of the thread lays under them (on the back side).
To end a section of thread you can either tie another small knot, or you can weave it through the backs of the cross stitches for about an inch, and then snip the rest off. You can use this principle when starting a new thread once you have already started your project.
When moving from one section of cross stitches to another, when in the same color, end the thread, and start again, do not carry the thread under the fabric, as it will show.
If you’re left handed, you may prefer to hold your project upside down.
After finishing you should ALWAYS wash your project. This is to stop any discoloration over time. Simply place the project flat into a bowl of cold water with 2-3 drops of liquid hand wash mixed in.
After washing you may iron your project. Put the design face down and iron on a low setting. If there are a lot of knots on the back of your project, you can iron through a towel.
I know, right; why would you ever need to know how to cross stitch something without waste canvas? Well, actually the answer is all too prevalent. Be it you’re stitching something like the works of Severija, or things that can’t get wet such as our example, my recently cross stitched Pikachu Journal. The really great thing about this process though is that you’ll be able to pick any count aida, and use any thread type without an issue. No more trying to find 18 Count Waste Canvas.
So as guessed, you don’t need waste canvas, but you are going to need a few other things, that should already be in your cross stitch kit:
Pins (or a drill depending on the item you want to stitch)
Cardboard/Wood blocks to capture the back of the needle
Some type of non-staining tape
So the first step is to get a peice of aida and start marking out your pattern. All you need to do it mark the outside edge only. I choose to do this with both a sharpie and a ball point to really see what I’m doing in the next stage, however fabric pens work well too. I would suggest against using thread to mark it though (you’ll see why soon).
Find the perfect position for your cross stitch and affix it to the piece using tape (be careful to only tape on areas that won’t pull up, such as paper). I can’t stress enough that it needs to be super tight, but DO NOT cross the area you’re going to be stitching. I did. I regret it. The needle clogs up on the glue on the tape and causes all kinds of problems.
Then you get to the hard bit. Pin the furthest corner down with a straight pin, using the wood/cardboard to hold it down (and save anything under it). Then start pinning each regular aida hole along one edge straight down, leaving a pin roughly every inch. You then want to go line by line doing the same thing, making a grid of stabling pins each inch until every hole is needed along the project (make sure not to pin where you aren’t going to stitch, here is where the thick outside lines come in handy).
You can then remove the aida, leaving a nicely laid out grid for you to start work on. If you’ve decided to cross stitch something like leather, which ‘heals’ itself, then the holes will be hard to identify by eye, but the needle tip will find them. If you’re still struggling, try using a sharp ended needle instead.
And you’re all done! Good luck stitching all those household objects!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.