How to Make Sure You Buy a Quality Cross Stitch Pattern

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, every time. 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 it’s 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.

Octopus Tea Cross Stitch Pattern by LoLaLottaShop (Source: Etsy)

Stitched examples of Octopus Tea Cross Stitch Pattern by LoLaLottaShop (Source: 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:
Giant Squid vs Great White Shark Cross Stitch Pattern by Richearts (Source: Etsy)

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 a 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 specifically 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.

Bad Quality Cross Stitch Pattern

A big pattern will look like it has a lot of detail, however, the sacrifice 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 recognizable character/image?” and normally, you can sidestep most major copyright holders. However, that doesn’t mean the pattern you’re about to buy isn’t copyrighted.
Imagine a pattern that evokes 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 definitely 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 the 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.

Don’t swap

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!

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Nik

    Out of general curiosity, in some cases (ethics aside) is there a reason to buy a pattern rather than just copy a finished product? For example, with the squid up there, couldn’t you just manually recreate it?

    P.S. I am wholeheartedly for supporting the designer and purchasing the pattern if I intend on using it.

    1. LordLibidan

      Personally, I would always buy a pattern. Obviously, the ethics are a big thing, but that aside, copying a pattern has three big issues:
      – Copying is never perfect. A half stitch here or there missed or a miss count, etc could change the overall look. You’re asking for problems by copying a stitched piece.
      – Changes get made. I have never stitched one of my patterns without making small improvements as I work through it. The stitched version you’re copying would likely not include those improvements, meaning you’re getting a substandard pattern (assuming you copy it perfectly).
      – It takes forever! For very small, simple patterns you could do it quickly, but things like the squid are so large that it makes more sense to buy it and save time. Unless you like making patterns, in which case, you should be making your own really…

  2. Esmaya

    What about patterns that are not on sale anymore? I have three of four seasons as kits but it‘s impossible to buy the fourth one.

  3. Kate

    Check to see if the pattern is easy to read. I can’t stand patterns where it’s hard to distinguish one color’s symbol from another. It can turn a great design into something miserable to stitch.

  4. Kerry Aggen

    I would also add Amazon… I’ve bought about 10 patterns/kits through Amazon, only to find that 1 was of extremely dubious origin, and a 2nd was definitely not what it was being passed off as. The others were what they were claimed to be, in original packaging and copyright info clearly in place. However, this has left a very sour taste in my mouth, and have only bought cross stitch patterns or kits from known reputable sources since (123Stitch, Everything Cross Stitch, Stitching Bits and Bobs, etc., or the pattern makers themselves, such as Samsarah Studio, Glendon Place, etc.), and which I could reasonably be assured ahead of time the pattern’s legitimacy.

    There’s also Pinterest…!!! I could spend days at a time just looking and pinning all the great stuff and ideas on there!!! But, when you find something that you really, really want to stitch, you might not be able to find a source, let alone a legitimate source, for that pattern… So, do you “borrow” the idea and tweak it slightly using your cross stitch pattern maker so you (perhaps) don’t infringe on any copyright), or do you continue searching for a source no matter how long it takes??? Hmmm. What’re your thoughts on that?

    1. LordLibidan

      Amazon is a little tricky sometimes, I must admit, but you can find some really good sellers on there too.
      Pinterest is a bain of mine tbh, I love the ideas, but actually finding a pattern from a pin is hard work. I would personally not “borrow” the idea too strongly, however if using it as an influence, rather than a rip off, then I think its OK!