Do designers spend 100 hours making a cross stitch pattern?

MacStitch Screenshot with example Pikachu pattern

I was on a facebook group the other day and I heard a seller of pattern software say “designers will make you think they spend 100 hours on a pattern, but you can do it yourself in 30 seconds!” Whilst this sounds like a great sales pitch, it put my back up. You see, whilst I’m not a designer per-say, this just isn’t true. For a few reasons. So, I decided to make sure the message was straight when it comes to pattern making.

Does it take 100 hours to make a pattern?

Sometimes

Does it take 100 hours to make a commerical pattern?

No.

How long does it take?

Well, it might take 100 hours, it might also take 30 seconds. Yes, I see how confusing that is.
I have spent 100 hours making a cross stitch pattern, and I’ve also spent 30 seconds. When it comes to pattern making, there are a few things you need to take into account: Complexity, experience & quality.

Complexity

I’ve spoken many times about finding the right cross stitch pattern software for you and I’m always talking about what you need it for. Some patterns are simply harder to make thanks to different elements. Let’s take a few of my patterns as examples.

Optimus Prime Transforming 3D Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan in robot form
Optimus Prime Transforming 3D Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan in robot form

The first is my transforming cross stitch which whilst having a simple color palette, was totally new. There wasn’t an image to work from to start, there wasn’t a guide on how pieces could go together, and there wasn’t a nice easy way to make the pattern. As a result I had to put each stitch together, in such a way that it made sense when making a series of boxes, that then get strung together to move. This pattern took me 100 hours.
Mass Effect N7 Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan
Mass Effect N7 Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

However, the next example is my N7 mass effect cross stitch. I took an image, put it through a pattern maker, and stitched it. It took me 30 seconds.
The difference between these two was how complicated the pattern was, and how much I could work from to start. Pattern designers need to stay way from anything possibly copyrighted, so have to make everything themselves, which takes time.

Experience

The second thing is experience. If you’ve been making patterns a while, you get the software, you get the way you need to make a pattern, you get the tools and can picture exactly what you want before you start. As a result, it doesn’t take that long. Again, lets use some examples.
Portal Tattoo Cross Stitch by Lord LibidanPokemon Tattoo Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan
The above two patterns were roughly the same amount of work. They have similar stitch counts, similarly complex and they’re similar in design. However the difference, is they were made a year apart. The first, the Portal tattoo cross stitch took me 100 hours. The second, the Pokemon tattoo cross stitch took me 5. Yes, that’s 20 times less, in only a year.

Quality

The final thing is quality. We’ve spoken about quality of pattern makers before in our post about if free cross stitch pattern makers better than paid however lets put that to a side for a moment, as pattern makers themselves aren’t to blame here. You can make a 30 second pattern in any pattern maker, and you can make a 100 hour pattern in any pattern maker too.
The difference, is what you do with the time. You can add dithering, you can reduce stitches, colors, add in effects, change the tones, you can rearrange stitches and move things around. The pattern you make in 30 seconds, is going to be a considerably worse pattern thanks to that. If those extra 99 hours and 59 minutes and 30 seconds were worth it or not is besides the point.
Designers want you to spend your money on their patterns. As a result, they want to give you a quality product, so they spend more than 30 seconds on a pattern.

So do designers take 100 hours on a pattern?

Well, its hard to say. However, I doubt it.
We know their patterns are detailed, they can’t work from imagery so have to a make it themselves, and they make high quality patterns. However its their job. They’ve been doing this professionally for some time, and as a result, should be significantly faster than the rest of us at pattern making. So yes, they might take 10 or so hours, but not 100. In fact, the two projects I’ve shown above that took me 100 hours, were the only two, and they were both made only 1 year into me starting to cross stitch.
That said, I can guarentee you that any pattern designer worth their salt can make a considerably better pattern than any 30 second pattern maker.

Going back to the original quote “designers will make you think they spend 100 hours on a pattern, but you can do it yourself in 30 seconds!” I would have to say, by in large, its kinda correct. Designers do spend a long time making patterns, and you can make one yourself in 30 seconds. But those two patterns aren’t comparable.

Pokemon Cross Stitch Pattern Spotlight

Beta Pokemon Cross Stitch Pattern by MetamonPatterns (Source: Etsy)

For our pattern spotlight this week I wanted to focus on something people often look for; Pokemon patterns. However with the Pokemon company being rare to give out licenses (or at all in cross stitch), finding a piece that is copyright free is very hard. But not impossible…

Beta Pokemon Cross Stitch Pattern by MetamonPatterns

Beta Pokemon Cross Stitch Pattern by MetamonPatterns (Source: Etsy)
Beta Pokemon Cross Stitch Pattern by MetamonPatterns (Source: Etsy)

This week I’ve decided to feature a pattern by MetamonPatterns. First off, this is not copyrighted. The reason actually comes down to the sprites themselves; before the Pokemon Gold and Silver games came out, a demo was made avaliable at spaceworld 1997, and it included these three pokemon. They were cut from the original game however, so were never copyrighted.
That isn’t what makes this pattern great though (although I love a pattern with a cool story behind it), its the telling of the story. Using a classic Gameboy border with both Japanese and English names makes this piece more than just an average Pokemon pattern. The little nods to the beta Pokemon from spaceworld at the top and bottom add to telling that great story.
 
This pattern was found on Etsy.

How to get Kids into Cross Stitch

Child stitching the Mini Little Stitchers cross stitch subscription kit (Source: thegeekystitchingco.com)

I’m sure you’ve all been in the situation where you have the little ones running around bugging you constantly asking “what you doing?” well, sometimes explaining cross stitch isn’t enough, and you need to let them try it. But with all those sharp needles, threads and complicated patterns, kids can sometimes get bored. OK, they ALWAYS get bored. But with some clever planning, you can get any kid to love trying cross stitch. You might not win over the playstation, but they’ll enjoy it all the same.

Getting ready

Before anyone starts teaching a child to cross stitch, you should get ready. This can be a whole variety of things, but the big three, are the pattern, the materials, and the tools.

Picking the right pattern

The first thing, is you’re going to need an appropriate pattern. Pick something small; something you could do in a few hours MAX. Make it simple color blocks, and make it something a kid would want to stitch. This could be something simple like a Star Wars character, or a Batman logo; or even just a pretty flower.

Picking the right materials

However there is a slightly more important thing you need to think about; the materials. Whilst we’re used to stitching on 14 or smaller, its just not going to be easy for a child to use, so try some 11 count. It might also help to get plastic canvas rather than aida, and even better you could get a wooden cross stitching board.
Thankfully, these two first steps can be solved nice and easy thanks to kits you can get online. These can come as cross stitch subscription boxes like the Mini Little Stitchers Club or something from Etsy. They come with hoops, fabric/boards, suitable patterns, threads, needles and sometimes sweets too!

Picking the right tools

Following on from picking the right materials, you may also need to think about the right tools. Are those razor sharp Japanese snip scissors really the best thing for little fingers? And what about those needles? Thankfully you can pick up plastic needles, and round nosed scissors easily (you probably already have the scissors if you’re a parent) so these shouldn’t be trouble, but don’t forget them!

Childs cross stitch kit being completed (Source: Etsy.com)
Childs cross stitch kit being completed (Source: Etsy.com)

Time to stitch

Finally…

Explain everything

So to start, explain. Explain the pattern, as a kid looking at a massive grid of weird black and white symbols, they’re bound to be confused. Explain what each part of the process is, and let them watch you.
It should also be noted that as kids are visual learners, showing them a video like peacock & figs how to cross stitch video can really help them get to grips with what they’re meant to be doing.

Let them learn

But you should also let them learn themselves. Don’t bombard them with hundreds of terms, fancy options in stitching and clever tips. Just the basics. They’ll find their own rhythm and way of stitching, just like you did. As time goes on and they pick up another project; maybe you can start adding the options then.

Encourage them

And this is the most important step; encourage them. They are BOUND to get it wrong somewhere. If its stitches in the wrong direction; don’t mention it. If its a knot, help them remove it and make them use shorter pieces to avoid further knots. Make sure its still fun for them; not a chore!

Rocket Cross Stitch Pattern Spotlight

Space Rocket Cross Stitch Pattern by PRINTandDECOR (Source: Etsy)

With commercial space flight now a reality, with Virgin Galactic apparently taking everyday citizen’s into space this year, there is a lot going on in space. Obviously that means there’s loads going on with space cross stitch patterns, so to narrow things down a little, today, we’re talking about cross stitch patterns that focus on rockets and space shuttles.

Space Rocket Cross Stitch Pattern by PRINTandDECOR

Space Rocket Cross Stitch Pattern by PRINTandDECOR (Source: Etsy)
Space Rocket Cross Stitch Pattern by PRINTandDECOR (Source: Etsy)

As the spotlight was narrowed down in choice, we got a late contender in the form of PRINTandDECOR’s space shuttle pattern. Initially this looked fairly simple, but as you look further, you can see just how complicated and interesting this pattern is. With the solat system diagram in the back, with actual planets super imposed on top, the super stylised Mars the shuttle is taking off from and the sashiko cloud like smoke coming out of the engines shows that this designer really knows what their doing.
Most cross stitch patterns are as simple as you can see, but by making objects progressively smaller, and making the solar system diagram almost hidden in the deep background, this pattern is truly a special kind of clever.
 
This pattern was found on Etsy.

The Best Animated Cross Stitch

Stitchy Cat Cross Stitch by The Wild Stitch (Source: thewildstitch.blogspot.com)

For my most recent project I made an animated cross stitch, specifically an animated Pikachu cross stitch. The idea for it came from the Xstitch Mag which featured a zoetrope by Tom Katsumi. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it and new I had to give it a go, but with a geeky twist. However, that was far from the first animated cross stitch I’ve seen, so I decided to round up some of the best the web has to offer!

Tom Katsumi’s Sewtrope Cross Stitch


Of course, I have to start with Tom Katsumi’s space cat, which is actually a cleverly made zoetrope using 12 different images to make a moving picture. Not only is this a fantastic example of animation but the cross stitch goodness was a massive inspiration.

The Wild Stitch’s Stitchy Cat Cross Stitch

Stitchy Cat Cross Stitch by The Wild Stitch (Source: thewildstitch.blogspot.com)
Stitchy Cat Cross Stitch by The Wild Stitch (Source: thewildstitch.blogspot.com)

However, I think I may know where Tom got his own inspiration, as back in 2015 The Wild Stitch created an earily similar, and just as trippy, animated cross stitch cat.

Lord Libidan’s Running Pickahu

Animated Pokemon Pikachu Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan
Animated Pokemon Pikachu Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

OK, this is mine, but in fairness, this list was put together by someone else, so I think that’s OK.

RuPaul Cross Stitch Animation Workshop

RuPaul Cross Stitch Animation Workshop (Source: brookehatfield.com)
RuPaul Cross Stitch Animation Workshop (Source: brookehatfield.com)

The RuPaul cross stitch animation workshop is probably the best known animated cross stitch out there, as not only was it created with 35 cross stitchers, but also asked for creative coloring of RuPaul\s face. Originally planned by Aubrey Longley-Cook, who has created a whole slew of animated cross stitch himself, this piece was everywhere on the web back in early 2013.

Jennifer Norm’s Dance Dance Revolution


Jennifer Norm isn’t a name you hear in cross stitch a lot, and frankly, finding her work is hard at best, but one video she created back in 2011 is the earliest example of animated cross stitch I can find anywhere. Unlike the others on our list is actually a combination of cross stitch and some very clever photoshop work, but it grabs the essence of Dance Dance Revolution perfectly.

Thereminista’s Duck Hunt


The first 100% stitched animated cross stitch I could find however, was back in 2012 with this awesome Duck Hunt by thereminista, who we sadly haven’t heard of since. A shame too, as this was an idea that has inspired so many…


So many, including music video producers. Specifically, animators Jonathan Chong and Clem Stamation who made a whole music video in the cross stitch style, all be it digitally, for the band Husky’s single Ghost.

Marvel Cross Stitch Pattern Spotlight

Marvel Thanos Gauntlet Cross Stitch Pattern by xstitch4love (Source: Etsy)

With an overwhelming amount of cross stitch patterns on an ever increasing list of websites, we’ve decided to help the cross stitch community out by searching the web to find you an awesome pattern from one category a week. These cross stitch patterns will be picked based on their style, creativity and most importantly; their quality. In fact, we’ll only post patterns that we’ve seen stitched examples, seen the pattern, and we know they’re free of copyright.
The best news? These posts are in addition to the once a week post we usually post.
 
This week we’ve decided to start with Marvel. Afterall, the new Marvel movie comes out tomorrow; its an end of an era and the start of a new, so its about time we looked back at those superheroes who made cinematic history.

Marvel Thanos Gauntlet Cross Stitch Pattern by xstitch4love

Marvel Thanos Gauntlet Cross Stitch Pattern by xstitch4love (Source: Etsy)
Marvel Thanos Gauntlet Cross Stitch Pattern by xstitch4love (Source: Etsy)

When it comes to Marvel, there are so many patterns out there; thanks to the sheer volume of films, that its hard to make a choice. However when we saw xstitch4love’s gauntlet design we knew we had to feature it. The gauntlet is simply put; THE symbol of the Marvel movie universe so far.
Featuring every main character from the previous films in black and white with the bright stones standing proud really makes you realise just how poignant the recent movie will be, how far we’ve come, and what will become of the Marvel universe in the future!
 
This pattern was found on Etsy.

Why is cross stitch an obsession?

xstitch magazine issue 7 cover In this issues XStitch Magazine I wrote about love, specifically love of cross stitch, and how there are different levels of love. Everyone here probably loves cross stitch, but to what degree?

But then someone asked me “but what is it about cross stitch that you love”? And I honestly didn’t know. It’s not that theres nothing to love, there is loads, but what exactly is the thing I love?

So I start to think about my cross stitch tasks. I know that when I first started the thrill was in the finish. I still think back to my tiny highland cow cross stitch, my first ever, and the thrill of finishing was amazing. But if this was the thing that I loved, I would do tiny stitches over and over, but I find myself regularly doing massive cross stitches such as my Moon Light In Yasaka Pagoda Cross Stitch.

My first cross stitch
My first cross stitch

So could it instead be the pattern making? After all, now-a-days 100% of the stitches I create are of my own design. Well, honestly, I only create patterns as I can’t really find something I want to stitch. I’m also a massive advocate of pushing boundries in cross stitch too.

So maybe its just that ‘on more stitch’ feeling? Maybe. We’ve covered how cross stitch is great at reducing stress, but I don’t have a super stressful life (although I wonder if that is because of the cross stitch…).

I’m honestly not sure if its one of these, all of these, none of these, maybe even the fact that there are simply so many things to love. However I do know one thing; the thing I hate is frogging. Thankfully frogging has gotten easier lately.

What’s the best mark up app for cross stitch patterns?

cross stitch mark up app ezpdf (Source: youtube)
A lot of people like to keep track of cross stitch patterns on their computers, ipads, tablets or phones, but what are the best ways to mark up your cross stitch patterns? We’ve reviewed the biggest solutions on the market to help you pick.

Jump to Android
Jump to iOS
Jump to Windows & Mac

Best ANDROID markup software:

ezPDF ($4) – 10/10

Based on 321 reviews Frankly ezPDF has everything you want from a markup app. Its light weight (doesn’t take up too much space on your tablet/phone), can open any pdf with ease, and its mark up tools appear to be designed especially for cross stitch. You can undo incorrect markups, even if they were from weeks previous, and the app saves as you go, meaning no mistake app closing loosing your work.



XODO (FREE) – 9/10

Based on 185 reviews   Free, and therefore right up there with favourability, XODO is a good alternative to ezPDF. Its not as easy to use, and that’s why it gets a worse score, but there is one advantage XODO has over ezPDF; it can be used across devices. All you need to do is set up an account and you can use the android app or go online (through your computer, iPad, phone or any internet enabled device (including your smart TV)) and you can pick up where you left off. Great for those who want multiple devices.

Foxit (FREE) – 8/10

Based on 82 reviews Foxit is a great app for editing pdfs on the go, however its built with that purpose, and therefore doesn’t easily control cross stitch markups. It still works, its free, and its great at opening any PDF, however the app is considerably larger than the alternatives, and its just not as good on our tests.

Best iOS markup software:

iBooks (FREE) – 10/10

Based on 1091 reviews iBooks probably wasn’t what you were thinking when you read this list, but as a built in app, it does everything you need a cross stitch mark up app to do. Not only is it built in, therefore free, but is lightweight, has a easy to use format, and saves as you go. Its not fantastic at loading times, but will open anything you throw at it.



Cross Stitch Markup (FREE) – 9/10

Based on 78 reviews   The new app from Ursa software (the makers of WinStitch and MacStitch) is a dream to us, and is the ONLY app on this list specifically made for purpose. It’s frankly, brilliant. But there is one big issue, and that’s its dependancy on .chart files, a file format specifically made for the app. One day I’m sure they’ll be everywhere, but at the moment, finding a .chart is actually kinda hard.

Goodnotes ($12) – 8/10

Based on 27 reviews Goodnotes is a brilliant app, its on its 4th generation, its been made to do pretty much anything you can think of to a pdf with ease, and its a dream to use. But its also the most expensive app on the list. If you’re aching for a great app that’ll be supported for decades to come, Goodnotes is it, but with many free alternatives, I wouldn’t go with it for my first choice.

GoodReader ($8) – 7/10

Based on 18 reviews GoodReader is pretty much a carbon copy of Goodnotes, so the same applies from a review perspective, but with the lower cost comes less innovation. They’re always playing second fiddle to Goodnotes.

ezPFD ($2) – 4/10

Based on 312 reviews ezPDF reviewed with our android users as the best app by far, but with the iOS app, everything is different. Hard to install, barely works, late updates, large install file, and not as easy to use as the android version. I’m afraid ezPDF just lets the side down on iOS.

Best WINDOWS/Mac markup software:

WinStitch ($52 ($48 with discount)) – 10/10

Based on 1834 reviews
Use this link ($) or this link (£) to save yourself $5 when you buy!

WinStitch is expensive for a markup app, but its not a markup app. In fact, its a fantastic bit of software for making your own cross stitch patterns, it even reviewed as the best windows cross stitch pattern software. What makes it helpful however, is its also able to mark up cross stitch patterns. Unlike its iOS app brother, it can do it on all pdfs too. The issue; they should be made from within WinStitch to start.



XODO (FREE) – 9/10

Based on 185 reviews   XODO is a great app, its a great online platform, and therefore, its great on PC or Mac. You see, so long as you have a login, you can access your patterns on any computer and pull up its great markup software. Its easy to use, free, and fast.

How to keep up motivation while tackling a big cross stitch project

pokemon epic all generations cross stitch by samarin6 (source: spritestitch.com)

We’ve spoken at length about how to get cross stitch inspiration and how cross stitch can help you destress but there is one problem we hear a lot about, especially as we give away epic pokemon cross stitch patterns and that’s burnout.
If you’re a youtube watcher, you’ve probably heard about recent videos on content burnout, where youtubers are constantly having to churn out video content, and it takes away the fun. Well, that happens with cross stitch too. Sure, you might not have an audience to satisfy, you’re probably your own worst critic, but keeping up your cross stitch mojo, especially when you’re tackling a big project, can be hard. Real hard. But there are ways to solve that problem!

eat sleep stitch repeat cross stitch by stitchkits (Source: notonthehighstreet.com)
Sometimes this ISN’T what you want. Eat Sleep Stitch Repeat cross stitch by stitchkits (Source: notonthehighstreet.com)

Stitch up some small projects

One of the greatest ways to get through a big project, or even a rut you might be having, is to pick up small stitches. Thoses small stitches might take you a weekend, and you might not even be super into them, but they acomplish two things. The first, is it gives you that completion high all cross stitchers know, and secondly, it gives you renewed enthusiasm for what you’re currently doing. Yeh, you might be stitching away at the same page for 3 months solid, but doing a throw away project gives you that perspective that actually, what you’re stitching right now is going to be awesome.

Look for inspiration

We mentioned cross stitch inspiration at the top of this blog, but actually, inspiration is one of the best things for you. Yes, you might come away with a list as long as your arm of things you want to stitch, and might even have a few patterns to boot, but it’ll remind you why you like stitching, and why you like stitching that epic you’re on currently.

Go on a cross stitch holiday

Tried that? Not helping you out? OK, then stop stitching. I know, I know, it sounds stupid, especially if you’re half the way through to just drop it, but seperation from cross stitch might actually be exactly what you need. You don’t have to sit there thinking about it either, go out, pick up another hobby, knit, sew or just read a book. I personally play computer games. That break helps you renew, just like a holiday. Not only that, but you might find yourself wanting and wanting to revisit it, and once that happens, you know the rut is over.

Don’t beat yourself up

You’re thinking to yourself “but I’m X of the way through, I can’t stop”. Well, I’m here to tell you its OK. You can stop beating yourself up. I’m the type of person that likes a plan, and I like to stick with it, so if I can’t stitch as much as I planned or the project is taking longer than I expected I tend to beat myself up. But there’s no reason to. It’s OK to be late.

Failure is always an option

And in fact, its OK to give up. One of my personal heros is known for a simple notion; that failure is always an option. Sometimes things just don’t work, and giving up is not only an acceptable thing to do, but sometimes, its the best thing to do.

Anagraph Mass Effect Morality Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Mass Effect Paragon Renegade Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Mass Effect Paragon Renegade Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan
Mass Effect Paragon Renegade Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Title: Red/Blue Mass Effect Paragon & Renegade Cross Stitch
Date Completed: March 2019
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: White
Colours: 2
Video Game: Mass Effect
 
I have always loved 3D glasses and ever since my 3D Pokemon choice cross stitch I’ve wanted to do more, but unlike that one, I wanted to look into the idea of putting two seperate images on top of each other, so that when viewed with red alone, or bllue alone you would see two seperate images. However, after playing around with a Fallout idea failed, I left the idea in my ideas book and didn’t think about it again.
Until I saw someone else’s cross stitch. It was a Stormtrooper crossed with a skull, and whilst I loved the idea, the actual way about making the red/blue image work is what impressed me the most.
Red Blue Stormtrooper Cross Stitch by Tad Tafelsky (Source: flickr)
Red Blue Stormtrooper Cross Stitch by Tad Tafelsky (Source: flickr)

Red Blue Stormtrooper Cross Stitch Close Up by Tad Tafelsky (Source: flickr)
Red Blue Stormtrooper Cross Stitch Close Up by Tad Tafelsky (Source: flickr)

By combining one thread of each color (and in his case also black) he was about to give each color its own placement, and make each image work perfectly. I stole his idea but with only two colors, and I think it came out well. So here is the Mass Effect paragon and renegade images on top of each other. Check it out with red/blue glasses to see the full effect!
Mass Effect Paragon Renegade Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan
Mass Effect Paragon Renegade Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan