How to cross stitch objects WITHOUT waste canvas

cross stitch waste canvas marked out with pen

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.

Cross Stitch objects by Lord Libidan and Severija
Cross Stitch objects by Lord Libidan and Severija

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
Items needed for cross stitching without waste canvas
Items needed for cross stitching without waste canvas

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).

cross stitch waste canvas marked out with pen
Cross stitch area marked out with pen

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.

Cross stitch aida taped down on journal
Cross stitch aida taped down on journal

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).

Cross stitch aida pinned down on journal
Cross stitch aida pinned down on journal

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!

So you’ve finished a pattern; but is it perfect?

Pikachu Background Recolor

We’ve made loads of guides on how to make cross stitch patterns, how to make video game cross stitch patterns and even how to make free pokemon cross stitch patterns, however we always stay away from what makes a pattern PERFECT.
Now, perfect is clearly in the eye of the beholder, and without a doubt you’ll have your own preferences, but there are a few things that will help you in making sure perfect is achievable for you.

fifth element perfect gif
More perfect that Milla Jovovich?

Story

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?

Pokemon Pidgey Cross Stitch Patterns (source: google images)
Pokemon Pidgey Cross Stitch Patterns (source: google images)

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.
portal companion spheres pixel art

Outside Line

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.

Pikachu Sprite Recolor
Pikachu Sprite Recolor

Shading

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.

Pikachu Background Recolor
Pikachu Background Recolor

Top Stitch

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.

Signature

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.

Harry Potter And The Curse Of The Brilliant Cross Stitch

Harry Potter Coat of Arms Cross Stitch by grumble-king2 (source: deviantart.com)

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is out, and what better way to bring in the Potter goodness, than with a roundup of some of the best Harry Potter cross stitches!

At the top of the class we have this killer take on a traditional sampler, where all the sample stitches are Potter icons, with the golden snitch standing proud.

Harry Potter Sampler Cross Stitch by Christine, pattern by FeltLikeStitching (source: bookishlyboisterous.blogspot.com)
Harry Potter Sampler Cross Stitch by Christine, pattern by FeltLikeStitching (source: bookishlyboisterous.blogspot.com)

On the matter on snitches, this 99 problems satirical stitch is a fantastic way to use typography with imagery.

99 problems but a snitch aint one Harry Potter cross stitch (source: pinterest)
99 problems but a snitch aint one Harry Potter cross stitch (source: pinterest)

He-who-must-not-be-named is back again, with the dark mark. This fantastic example includes a sweet how to guide.

Voldemort's Dark Mark Harry Potter Cross Stitch by CraftyGamerUK (source: Etsy)
Voldemort’s Dark Mark Harry Potter Cross Stitch by CraftyGamerUK (source: Etsy)

One of my personal favorite parts of the series, and wish I had my own at the time, and this cross stitch really brings it to life without over working it.

Mischief Managed Harry Potter Cross Stitch by DarlingVioletStitch (source: etsy)
Mischief Managed Harry Potter Cross Stitch by DarlingVioletStitch (source: etsy)

Always…

Harry Potter Always Cross Stitch (source: Etsy)
Harry Potter Always Cross Stitch (source: Etsy)

With a heavy heart I bring back bad memories of Dobby. However when Dobby was still with us, he had some fantastic moments; just like…

Dobby the House Elf Harry Potter Cross Stitch (source: google images)
Dobby the House Elf Harry Potter Cross Stitch (source: google images)

This epic Harry Potter coat of arms cross stitch has been attempted by a lot of people, so many no one really knows where the pattern came from, however this example, with some truly fantastic framing really makes it stand out as one of the greatest epics out there.

Harry Potter Coat of Arms Cross Stitch by grumble-king2 (source: deviantart.com)
Harry Potter Coat of Arms Cross Stitch by grumble-king2 (source: deviantart.com)

Finally we have the super clever glow in the dark Lumos spell.

Star Wars Logo Mix Cross Stitch

Star Wars Logo Mix Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Star Wars Logo Mix Cross Stitch
Title: Star Wars Factions
Date Completed: October 2015
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Film: Star Wars
During the book design and sign off stage for our Star Wars cross stitch book we knew that the Rebel logo cross stitch and Imperial logo cross stitch needed to be designed. We made three designs and picked the best, but in order to get the sign off we were required to make 2 patterns. Cleverly we stitched half off each, and in photoshop mirrored each half to create the whole. I went back in future to redo both separately, however, I still think this one is the best.

Star Wars Rebel Logo Cross Stitch

Star Wars Rebel Logo Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Star Wars Rebel Logo Cross Stitch
Title: Rebel Logo
Date Completed: October 2015
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Film: Star Wars
Created as the first ever complete pattern for our Star Wars cross stitch book this rebel logo went through 3 different designs, and 1 test stitch before becoming a reality. I can still look at it now and see the enjoyment I got from working on the book. You can find the Imperial logo cross stitch and mixed star wars logos cross stitch on my portfolio page.

5 Cross Stitch Tattoos You’ll Die For

Pokemon Squirtle Squad Cross Stitch Tattoo (source: instagram.com)

Cross Stitch tattoos have exploded in the last few years, and no self respecting cross stitch geek would be without one. So pull up your chair, and get some inspiration from these epic stitches.

Squad Goal Squirtle Pokemon Tattoo

Not only does this have a Pokemon edge, but but mix of both cross stitch and non-cross stitch just make this an epic tattoo. Although I will say that it doesn’t follow a proper grid, so for shame on the cross stitcher who designed it!

Pokemon Squirtle Squad Cross Stitch Tattoo (source: instagram.com)
Pokemon Squirtle Squad Cross Stitch Tattoo (source: instagram.com)

Storm Trooper Helmet

This came out around the time of the newest Star Wars film, and not only is it a geeky indulgence, but the cross stitching is so NEAT.

Storm Trooper Star Wars Cross Stitch Tattoo by Eva Krbdk (source: pinterest.com)
Storm Trooper Star Wars Cross Stitch Tattoo by Eva Krbdk (source: pinterest.com)

Two Color Sailor Tattoo

So much is right about these tattoos. Firstly they’re based on traditional sailor tattoos, but with a quirky twist. Then they have non-cross stitched elements. Then they have only 2 colours. THEN they have a funky boarder that makes them look ever so slightly 3D when wearing proper glasses. Just wow.

Traditional Cross Stitch Tattoos by Mariette (source: pinterest.com)
Traditional Cross Stitch Tattoos by Mariette (source: pinterest.com)

Cross Stitch Sampler Tattoo Sleeve

There is devotion to a cross stitch sampler, and then there is the devotion of Anich Andrew’s tattoos. Known for his bold and geometric designs, this sleeve is epic.

Cross Stitch Sampler Tattoo Sleave by Anich Andrew (source: instagram)
Cross Stitch Sampler Tattoo Sleave by Anich Andrew (source: instagram)

Rose Shoulder Tattoo

The one thing that REALLY makes this work? The needle. Just that little bit extra sets the whole piece off.

Cross Stitch Shoulder Rose Tattoo by Tattoodo (source: pinterest.com)
Cross Stitch Shoulder Rose Tattoo by Tattoodo (source: pinterest.com)

Think there’s one we missed? Give us a comment!