The illegal cross stitch movement

Video Game Cross Stitch Graffiti in Milan by Miss Cross Stitch (source:

Following on from is cross stitch dead? and the rise of Twitch cross stitch 1, part 2 & part 3, there’s one other facet of modern cross stitch that’s making waves; public cross stitch.

Video Game Cross Stitch Graffiti in Milan by Miss Cross Stitch (source:
Video Game Cross Stitch Graffiti in Milan by Miss Cross Stitch (source:

This new wave of cross stitch appears to be an off shoot of the well known knitting group Stitch London (previously Stitch ‘n’ Bitch), known for knitting around key London landmarks in aid of charity. However some clever so and so realized that the multi-color non-destructive knitting had another effect; positivity.

That person was Miss Cross Stitch (nothing to do with Mr X Stitch). As a designer and keen stitcher she wanted to get away from the concept that it was only done by grandma’s, so packed up her needles and started stitching in German cities with bungie cord. Years later she was contacted by another member cross stitcher in Barcelona, and the movement was started.

Unlike traditional graffiti its seen as a positive force within the community, with little to no police impact (although there is some), and yes, its illegal, but I think we can all agree we’d love to see Pacman Ghosts in our neighborhood…

If you’re more interested in the exploits of Miss Cross Stitch you can check out an awesome interview on Make:, or her website.

Pikachu Tea Cup Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Pikachu Tea Cup Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Pikachu Tea Cup Cross Stitch
Title: Pikachu Tea Cup
Date Completed: October 2016
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 16
Canvas: White
Colours: 9
Video Game: Pokemon
I was watching a youtube video and the vlogger brought themselves a pack of three pokemon in teacups. These Japanese edition toys are SUPER hard to get in the UK (belive me, I tried), and so I wanted to stitch it instead. Unlike most of my stuff instead of creating image from scratch I placed together existing sprites, like my surfing pikachu and Pokemon battle cross stitch. I reshaped the tea cup and the shading was terrible, but with a little change of sizes to fit a little better and it now looks super cute!

Pikachu in a cup figure (source: Amazon)
Pikachu in a cup figure (source: Amazon)

Does 10,000 hours make a cross stitch master?

Lightsaber Blueprint Cross Stitch Embroidery by Lord Libidan

Everyone has heard the old adage of 10,000 hours of practice making you a master, however how true is this?

Thanks to the sheer size of cross stitch its no wonder that 10,000 hours are a possibility, however I doubt that a large proportion of people ever stitch that much. As a result, the remainder that do could be classed as masters, but whats my hour count?
Time to do the math.

Year 1-3:
20 (4 hour every weekday) + 16 hours (weekend) = 36 hours
x 50 (average weeks a year negating holidays) = 1800
x 3 (years = 5400
Year 4-6:
5 (1 hour every weekday) + 16 hours (weekend) = 21 hours
x 50 (average weeks a year negating holidays) = 1050
x 3 (years = 3150

Total: 8550

So I’m not a master. Well, it shouldn’t shock you to see that this isn’t the first time I’ve done that calculation. However within a year I will be, and so this begs the question; will I be a master soon?
The basics were covered off easily, within the first few weeks, maybe 50 hours. So for the remaining 8500 hours I’ve been doing nothing but practice. There are no badges like Pokemon to check your master status, and so we have to look at other identifiers.

pokemon master badges
Ash Ketchum still hasn’t won the Pokemon League, even with 58 badges…

I’ve been lucky enough to have been in 5 shows, work on a book, work on another book, be part of 5 publications and have another book deal. But none of these actually prove I’m any good at what I do, just that I can promote myself well. And so what other identifiers can you look at?

Well, for starters I still haven’t learnt how to do a french knot. I only really started ending my threads correctly a year ago. But I make all my own patterns, and pick colors by eye.

However in my mind, those 10,000 hours need to be used correctly. It’s not about the practice, its pushing the boundaries. I’ve played with transforming cross stitch, made stereoscopic cross stitch, made tattoos, blueprints and made perspective altering pieces; and I think its these I wear as badges of honor. My way to being a master.

That said; I still won’t class myself as a master. I think that’s the thing. To be a master you need to never stop trying to improve. I learnt that from Jiro.

Bowser Concept Art Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Bowser Concept Art Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Bowser Concept Art Cross Stitch

Bowser Concept Art Cross Stitch
Bowser Concept Art Cross Stitch

Title: Bowser Concept Art
Date Completed: October 2016
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Video Game: Super Mario Bros
I really haven’t made much from the Mario series, despite its popularity, and I thought that was really due for a change when I came across this original Bowser concept art on the Video Game Art Archive.
Not only did it fit my prefernce for grey only stitches, like my Canabalt cross stitch or Pokemon Quote to name a few, it also showcases some of the excellent art game maker create, and don’t get enough focus for. This bowser is actually slightly different from the ingame model, so its a unique piece to me!

Cross Stitch Tattoo Explosion

Galaxy Cross Stitch Tattoo by Eva Krbdk (source:

With 1 in 3 people having a tattoo on average worldwide, it’s not surprising to see so many. However recently there has been an explosion of cross stitch tattoos. Initially it looks like a perfect storm to create this, however if that was the case, we would have seen the explosion 3 years ago.
No, this is something different.

Cross Stitch Tattoos by Eva Krbdk (source:
Cross Stitch Tattoos by Eva Krbdk (source:

The Perfect Storm

I’ve said it above, but tattoos are everywhere now. The old and young don’t get tattoos, leaving about a third of the population. Therefore if you DON’T have a tattoo you’re the exception. And with this we’ve seen a lot of…questionable tattoos based on pop culture and hobbies. A great example of this is sewing, spurred on by the Great British Sewing Bee, and similar programs. However this has been building for some time, slowly pushing itself into mainstream culture.

But when I look back on the history of cross stitch tattoos, there’s pretty much nothing. The most well known contemporary stitcher, Mr X Stitch, has one, but its obscure enough that it might be anything… And then, from out of the blue, we hit a massive leap in interest. The below google trends record shows that in July 2015 cross stitch tattoos leap in interest. But why?

Cross Stitch Tattoo and Sewing Tattoo Google Trends (source: Google Trends)
Cross Stitch Tattoo and Sewing Tattoo Google Trends (source: Google Trends)

Eva Krbdk

It’s all down to Eva. She’s a Turkish tattoo artist that loves cross stitch and watercolors. Whilst most of her tattoos are watercolor based, Turkey has had a deep relationship with embroidery, and so she started getting contacted to change her stitches into tattoos. She’s been active since 2013, starting will small pieces, but recently she’s been asked to do massive pieces like the below:

Galaxy Cross Stitch Tattoo by Eva Krbdk (source:
Galaxy Cross Stitch Tattoo by Eva Krbdk (source:

What I really love is that she works with the canvas of skin in a similar way to aida. She fills in white areas, leaves space between crosses (like real aida), makes the stitches unique, but also positions the top stitch in the same direction for every cross. It’s not hard to see why Eva has such a backing, and I’m happy to see it continue.

Storm Trooper Star Wars Cross Stitch Tattoo by Eva Krbdk (source:
Storm Trooper Star Wars Cross Stitch Tattoo by Eva Krbdk (source:

If you haven’t got your fill of tattoo images here, I would strong suggest checking out her instagram which has both her cross stitch tattoos and awesome other tattoos.

TV Video Game Cross Stitch Tattoo by Eva Krbdk (source:
TV Video Game Cross Stitch Tattoo by Eva Krbdk (source:

Pokemon Great Wave Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Pokemon Great Wave Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Pokemon Great Wave Cross Stitch
Title: The Great Wave
Date Completed: October 2016
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 16
Video Game: Pokemon
I love Japan. That shouldn’t be too surprising to hear if you read my site regularly. In the past I’ve taken the traditional Japanese print style and created cross stitches out of it, like my Japanese Gengar cross stitch. However I’ve never done a faithful rendition of the style.
A while ago I went to the museum in London and saw a print of the Great Wave, and its stuck in my head for a while, maybe a year or more. I recently remembered it when I saw missypena’s Great Wave Off Kanto posters.
With her permission I remade the two images, combined them and edited them to fit the original slightly better. This work took maybe 200 hours or more, and is by far the largest piece I have completed. However, I think it might be my best to date.
Thankfully my work with the great wave came in super handy, as its one of the artworks featured in my Fine Art Cross Stitch book!

Copyright & Cross Stitch

copyright defintion Image (source: wikipedia)

We’ve detailed how to set up an Etsy store, and how to make patterns, and you’re all ready to go with the money making adventure of a lifetime!
But wait. Where’s legal? You don’t have one? Bah! It’ll be fine!

I’ve been there. I know that the idea of legal aid is just plain scary. But you know whats worse? When you get a letter from Nintendo saying you’ve broken copyright law and you need to take down your pattern.
As it happens the Pokemon company were pretty cool about it. Not only did they understand that I just took an image off Google without realizing I was doing wrong (apparently a VERY large problem now-a-days), but they also sent over some details on how to avoid it in future.
Turns out that this little foray into the world of scary law firms is a regular occurrence for the Etsy community, and even more so for cross stitch pattern makers. But it still didn’t scare me into shutting my shop for 3 years…

But fear not! Copyright law is actually pretty simple. There’s even an acronym. FCCP. I didn’t say it was a good acronym.
In fact, I’m going to do this out of order…

Shared under Creative Commons License!
Shared under Creative Commons License!


Whilst copyright has 4 distinct flavors, one of those in plain old vanilla copyright. When someone creates something they have copyright on that thing. However, not that many people say they own it. Instead, its implied. If its implied, then look to the other three options here.
But if you see that little copyright symbol, then stay away. The person who created it has full rights, and unless you ask (and they agree) to use it, you’re in breach of the law.

Public Domain

Public domain rarely applies in the world of the internet. The reason? You have to go through a rather teedious process to make it public domain. Like dying.
I’m serious. There are two ways something can be public domain:

  • The creater is dead AND no one owns the copyright
  • The creater willingly gave up permissions

You’re never really going to know if something is public domain or not unless it is very old (and even then its not guaranteed; the Happy Birthday song had a copyright until last year), and you have to bear in mind that someone might be using it under fair use or creative common licenses.

Fair Use

Fair use is the first part of copyright law that you can actually use to your advantage (So long as your in the USA, sorry the rest of the world). I’ll use an example:
My favorite artist came out with a new painting, and I use the image to create a cross stitch pattern and make a cross stitch – fine.
Then I try to sell the pattern – That’s not fair use.
You see, fair use allows you to use copyrighted material for education, research, or personal use (there is an exception here about benefiting public good, but unless your Edward Snowden you’re not going to be using that).

Creative Commons

This is where it gets really juicy. If you find an image, which is copyrighted, then you can ask to use it. Some people will say no; so be prepared for that. However others will say you can. There are often restrictions on this type of thing, so just be aware of those, but this is your only source of images (unless they are totally original).

The Exceptions

Yes, there is ALWAYS an exception. In this case its purchasing rights. Some websites out there use a creative commons license with their images. You can use them personally, or commercial websites/literature. However other offer royalty free images with no caps. This means that if you wanted to you could sell the image onto someone else straight away, no edits required. However it also allows you to make cross stitch patterns for sale.

So now you can set up your store in the safe knowledge you’re covered by copyright. Phew!

Selling Cross Stitch Online

shut up and take my money (source:

Making cross stitch is an awesome way to spend your time, however there’s always that one thing in your mind, the question everyone always thinks about “Can I make money from this?”.
Luckily, the answer is yes. There are LOADS of people selling cross stitch and cross stitch patterns online. It’s super simple to do, and doesn’t cost a lot to set up at all (if anything).
I will add the caveat now though, that you aren’t going to suddenly be drowning in dollar bills. But its enough to cover most cross stitch expenses.

shut up and take my money
Sadly this isn’t how customers are… :/

Deciding what to sell

The first step along this journey is what you’re going to sell. There are two main areas:

  • Finished cross stitch
  • Cross stitch patterns

Now, both have their advantages. The first is that you can charge higher amounts per product, whilst making patterns you can shift a dime a dozen and have it all done automatically. If you’re looking from a purely economical point of view, then selling cross stitch patterns is definitely your best bet. If you don’t know how to do this I have a guide on making cross stitch patterns here.

Your brand

The next step is to make a brand. Now, there are loads of different ways to come at this, so I’m going to leave it in your faithful hands, however its important to note that you need a UNIQUE name. This will be the name of your store, and possibly what you put on products too. Depending on your target market, this might be very different. For example I tend to aim towards the younger market with crazy patterns and so a tounge in cheek design and a flash logo work, but if you sell to more traditional stitchers a friendly face might work better.

Setting up a store

So now you have a brand you can set up a store. There are two main online platforms but Etsy is the best. You can find an official guide here.
They take a small cut on each deal, but they set up an automatic sale for digital files (patterns), and have massive amounts of traffic.

Make your products

Well… Yeh. Make the stuff.

Product images

Once you have items to sell the next thing is to get some awesome photos. This is the biggest thing about Etsy sales. The picture is EVERYTHING. Make it professional, make it stand out. Make sure people want to select it. This can be the hardest bit though, so if in doubt copy the style of other people who sell on Etsy until you develop your own style.

Being prepared

With everything set up and ready there is one final thing I would note; be prepared. This can take loads of different forms, but making sure you have enough of what your trying to sell is a big one. If this is finished pieces or kits you need to have the product ready to start when the sale goes through.

Quick tips

– Make sure you can sell your stuff. This is SUPER important. You can read up on cross stitch and copyright over here.
– Ensure you have awesome drawing product descriptions. After all, its all about selling the product.
– Customer care is super important. Just be there to speak to customers, answer questions, help them out.
– Etsy ads are a great way to get some extra eyes on your items, but I would stay away from general terms like “cross stitch” instead be more specific, and you’ll get a better return.
– Make sure you make a profit. If the item costs $10, the sale price needs to be $15 for you to get a $1 profit. But this doesn’t work out as a great wage. Price your time accordingly.
Struggling to sell your patterns online? Check out our post on why your why your cross stitch patterns aren’t selling.

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