When it comes to epic cross stitch patterns, we have you covered. From the slightly smaller, but still epic Pokemon cross stitch pattern to the insanely huge Epic All Generations Pokemon cross stitch pattern. It should, therefore, be no surprise that we are often asked about how to tackle these behemoths. Be that how to prepare, how long they take, or just keeping up the energy to keep stitching. So we’ve decided to help you out, and guide you through the trials and tribulations of tackling an epic cross stitch pattern.
Lets hit this guide with a hammer early on. Everyone has seen an epic pattern and thought “yes, I NEED to stitch that”, but actually taking the plunge is a tough thing to do. There are three main reasons its so hard.
Epic cross stitch patterns will take time. There is no question in that. Some of the ones on my site can be stitched in 9 months, others take years and years (I know of one that has so far taken 4 years) so time is a big factor. Now if that idea of giving time to a cross stitch pattern seems OK to you, I’d ask you a simple question; did you work out how much time?
In most cases people try to rationalize the pattern in their head, working out that if they want to finish in a year they need to stitch 2 hours a day. Now, that’s great, but can you keep that kind of stitching up? 2 hours, every day, without stitching anything else, come rain or shine, holiday or work? The answer is probably no.
But don’t give up hope. You just need to be realistic. It might take you a year, but if it takes 2 years, that’s OK. Don’t feel like its a race against yourself to get it finished, or you’ll take all the fun out of it.
Yes. It will cost you. Epics are, considerably most expensive than normal cross stitch. However, if you’re clever, they can be far more cost-efficient than smaller projects. We’ll get into it later on, but just because you’re starting a new project, doesn’t mean you need to buy everything upfront. With a project that will take you a year, you can split the cost periodically over the whole year, meaning its much more manageable.
Is It Worth It?
The final thing to work out, is a hard one. Is it worth it? Now, as someone that loves cross stitch, yes, its probably a great project, and you’ll have fun, no doubt. But epics take time, a LONG time, and as a result you need to work out if it’s worth it to you to keep on stitching with one project for what seems like forever.
Later in this guide we talk about keeping up enthusiasm whilst stitching, and one of those things is stitching smaller projects, but if the epic you want to stitch isn’t perfect in your eyes, is it worth the effort?
Gather Your Materials
If you’re willing to take the plunge, bravo! You’re onto a great project. But you need to get some supplies. As I eluded to above, you don’t need to get all of these things at once, you can split them up across the whole year, especially threads, but be ready to get yourself a serious stash over that year.
You’re going to need something to stitch on. This is by far, the biggest initial outlay for any epic cross stitch pattern, and sometimes can be hard to find. We even made a separate guide on how to find super-sized aida, but the long and short, is that you can get some. And if you can’t you can make one out of smaller pieces.
But as the single thing that will hold together your project, we really suggest investing in a good brand of aida.
It’s no surprise that most epic patterns use a lot of thread. Most use almost the whole range of DMC threads too, with a lot, and we mean a lot, of 310 black. Therefore, we have two suggestions on picking up threads.
The first is a simple one; cheap threads. We asked recently if cheap cross stitch threads are worth it and to our amazement they were. Sure, they aren’t as good as DMC threads in our eyes, but considering they’re a tiny fraction of the cost, they are a great way to save money on a big cross stitch pattern with lots of color changes.
Secondly, we suggest DMC thread cones. Or more specifically, a black cone. They cost about $12, but with over 1000 to 2100 meters of thread that’s a fantastic saving for just one color. Thankfully black and white are the most commonly used colors, so you can use them with this project, and beyond.
Finally, we suggest working out how many skeins you might need on this journey. We’ve detailed how many stitches you can get out of an 8m skein on the site before, which does need a little practice to work out, but can give you a super accurate idea of how much thread you’re going to need.
Yeh, needles. Not something you initially think about when tackling an epic, but there are a lot of stitches there, and it will play havoc with your needle. We recently went over why it might be time to time to ditch that old cross stitch needle, and in it, we talk about how damaging the needle can be to your cross stitch project after a while, so you need to take it easy on that guy. Instead, look at picking up a nice set of needles, which you change through the project. If you’re interested we’ve rounded up the best cross stitch needle brands for you to pick from.
Grid, Grid, Grid
This one is simple; grid. Counting on a small project can be a pain, but when you’re talking epics, it’s all too easy to screw something up and really ruin your project. The last thing you want is to find out after a year of stitching that you missed a few stitches months ago and now you can’t complete it. Considering there are many ways to grid for cross stitch its just worth doing so much. It might take a day just to grid, but it’s worth investing the time in. Trust us.
So now you have your materials is there anything else? Well, yes. You need to prepare the pattern, and work out what frame you’re going to use.
Get a Good Frame
The frame will hold your cross stitch for the whole time you’re stitching. You can go with something like a hoop, but using cross stitch hoops leaves marks, so we would go with a Q snap frame or something similar. However, there are loads of options we’ve rounded up in our post about which cross stitch frame is best.
You’re going to actually need the pattern. And you need to understand it. Take some time to get to grips with the pattern, and plan how you want to tackle it. I would suggest printing off the pattern, especially if you have the best printer for cross stitch. You might also want a markup app, or digital pattern, but sometimes using a paper pattern safeguards you against accidents.
How To Stitch
Finally, we get to stitching. You have everything ready, you have needle in hand, and… uh… how do you go about this?
Yes, there are lots of different ways to stitch cross stitch, and we aren’t going to tell you how to stitch, but when it comes to epics, there are only three ways to do it. Now, before I get onto the ways to do it, let me warn you off one day. Block stitching. This is where you stitch block by block, sometimes 10×10, using a parking method. Now, parking is actually a good idea, but try to avoid block stitching for anything less than a page. Once you finish you might see block lines all over the work, which can be hard to wash out.
I’ve never really got on with parking, but some people swear by it. In short, you have lots of active threads on the go at once. It means that instead of block stitching you slowly work your way across the whole pattern bit by bit, completing as you go. Its a great boost as you can see the whole thing coming together under your very eyes, but needs you to keep track of lots of threads at once.
Stitch one color, across the whole piece. And then do the next color. This is a great idea to start a cross stitch, using black as the first color. It will outline almost everything for you, give you stitching across the whole cross stitch pattern and will mean you no longer need grid lines/need to count. I would even suggest using this method to start, regardless of how you want to finish the other colors.
Mix And Match
This is how I stitch. It’s kind of like both parking and cross country, but I stitch large blocks of one color. I might do a quarter of it in black, then do blue for a bit, then do red, then go back to black, etc. It breaks up using one color forever, and is a good middle ground way to stitch. But there is a problem with this; tracking. You need to make sure that you keep an eye on where you’ve stitched, and what’s yet to stitch. Try using a cross stitch mark up app.
Keep Up The Enthusiasm
This, is by far, the hardest part of any epic cross stitch pattern. Keeping up motivation when cross stitching can be hard at the best of times, but with a project that takes years, it’s going to be much worse. But there are things you can do.
Let’s get this straight right away; you don’t need to stitch and stitch and stitch. Take breaks. We said earlier about working out how long you’d have to stitch a day, and things like that are always going to fail. You just can’t stitch for 2 hours every single day. Take a break once in a while. Play a game, read a book, go out or:
Stitch Something Else
You don’t have to be chained to this thing. An epic cross stitch pattern is great and all, but you can stitch something else whenever you like!
Celebrate Small Victories
Epics are huge. And that means there is only one completion. But that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the small stuff. Celebrate every time you’ve finished a page, or with a color, or maybe just every X hours you’ve spent stitching.
Break Up The Boring Bits
Finally, let’s talk about boring bits. In every cross stitch project, there is that bit. The bit that has one color and is a massive section. You just can’t avoid it sometimes. And we’re not going to tell you to. Instead, we’re going to help you avoid it. The first way is thinking about the background. If the “boring bit” is the background, have you considered using a colored aida, or dying it?
Now, if you can’t avoid it altogether, you can avoid it being boring. By breaking it up. Stitch it first, or stitch it in sections. The urge is to leave it right till the end, just when its the most boring, but by stitching it bit by bit, you can stop the boring parts becoming the bane of your life.