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How to frame cross stitch

Self framed cross stitch (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)

A freshly washed cross stitch is great, but unless you want to store your stitch you’ll want to show off your gorgeous piece? Well, good news for you, as Lauren of Plastic Little Covers has you covered with this perfect little guide on how best to frame cross stitch. You can also pick up the pattern used for this guide on her Etsy store.

Here’s a quick cross stitch framing tutorial for you all!

Before I start with this no doubt subpar tutorial, let me preface it with the fact that I am in no way precious about the way in which I finish a project. There are definitely neater ways to do it, so if you’re a perfectionist this mightn’t be for you! I also took the photos during the grim winter months here in the North East of England. To quote Florence & the Machine “no light, no light…”

Having said that, on the rare occasion I go all out with a frame this is the method that works for me, so here it is:

Things you’ll need:

Your ironed cross stitch with at least two inches of excess material around all edges of the design.
A photo frame
Acid-free foam board (sometimes labelled as foam core mount board). Make sure you get a colour that coordinates with your fabric, white for white etc.
Pins
Needle and strong thread (the thread in the photo was as weak as my tutorial game, so make sure you’ve got something strong enough to pull taut without snapping. I actually ended up using Anchor embroidery floss, which wasn’t ideal but just about did the job.)
Scissors (pictured are my tiny embroidery scissors, but you’d be better off using a pair of sharp haberdashery scissors for trimming your cross stitch and kitchen scissors or something similar for the mount board) It’s even better to use a proper cutter for the board, but alas! I don’t have one.

Items needed to self frame your cross stitch (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)
Items needed to self frame your cross stitch (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)

Step one:

First off you need to cut your foam board down to a suitable size for the inside of your frame. My frame was 6 x 4 inches, so I cut it to a few millimetres shy of that. You’ll want it to fit inside the frame but still have a little bit of wiggle room at the edges for when the cross stitch fabric is eventually folded around it. Check you’ve got that gap by trying the foam board in the frame, it shouldn’t be too snug or be wedged in there.

Placing pins in a cross stitch for self framing (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)
Placing pins in a cross stitch for self framing (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)

Step two:

Now that you have your expertly measured foam board at the ready, it’s time to pick up that lovely cross stitch of yours. Position it over the foam board, making sure that the design is central and level, and begin by folding the top side down. Find the middle of your design and push a pin into the foam centre of the board right on the top edge. Repeat at the bottom.

Placing a cross stitch over foam board for self framing (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)
Placing a cross stitch over foam board for self framing (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)

Step three:

Repeat Step Two, this time at the centre of the left and right sides. As you do this try to make sure that the fabric is as flat as it can be, and pulled fairly evenly across the board.

Finding the center of a completed cross stitch (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)
Finding the center of a completed cross stitch (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)

Step four:

Start working your way out from the centre, placing pins diagonally opposite each other, a couple at a time on each side. As you do this check that your design is still central and that the fabric is laying flat and taut. Continue all the way around.

Pinned down cross stitch (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)
Pinned down cross stitch (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)

Step five:

Now that you’ve finished pinning flip the whole thing over. This is where my shambolic tutorial skills once again show themselves. For reasons unknown, I’m holding the whole thing the wrong way round in the photo below. S0 what looks like top to bottom is actually side to side. * Sighs*

First layer of lattice back of a self framed cross stitch (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)
First layer of lattice back of a self framed cross stitch (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)

What you need to do is fold your sides inwards, and lace them together. I found doing the sides first is best for a flatter overall finish. For the lacing, you’re going to need a really long length of your thread, as you can see I underestimated and had to do a shoddy retying job in the middle. For my lacing, I started at about 1cm from the edge (you can go in closer to the edge than that if you want) and stitched backwards and forwards between the two sides. Pull it tight as you go, but make sure you’re not warping the board.

Step six:

If you’re still with me here then not only are you some kind of modern hero, but the end is also in sight!

At this stage fold over the top and bottom edges and lace those too.

Lattice back of a self framed cross stitch (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)
Lattice back of a self framed cross stitch (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)

As you can see my back isn’t the tidiest, but I left far more than two inches of excess around the piece and didn’t pull very tight with my stitches, so it’s all a bit bulkier than usual.

There are neater ways to finish a piece (there’s a snazzy method of folding your corners down and sewing them, which gives the whole thing a lovely finish), which I’d be happy to point you in the direction of if you’ d like to try them!

After you’ve done all of that you should find that the surface of your cross stitch is pulled nice and taut across the board and that the edges are smooth.

Step seven:

Rejoice and remove those pins!

Front of self framed cross stitch (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)
Front of self framed cross stitch (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)

Step eight:

Because you left that little bit of wiggle room at the start you should find that your cross stitch fits into the frame nice and snugly now.

Self framed cross stitch (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)
Self framed cross stitch (source: plasticlittlecovers.com)

Finito!

This is just one of many ways to finish a cross stitch piece. There’s also the option of embroidery hoops and professional framing. Ultimately it’s all about personal preference and budget! If you have any questions feel free to get in touch!

 

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Washing, Drying & Ironing

Washing cross stitch (source: peacockandfig.com)

Having mastered the art of cross stitch you’re now looking to display it, however, there is often an overlooked step.
When you’ve been stitching a while you’ll find out exactly why washing is important. But even I would admit I never really gave it credit when I started, and I’ve seen the problems first hand.

It’s all about finger juice. Yeh, you heard me. More specifically the thin layer of oil around your fingers to help you grip things. This oil is fairly innocuous and doesn’t do any damage on its own, however, it bonds with the thread. When it bonds the thread takes on the same characteristics and can grip things. Specifically dirt.
To make things worse, if you leave your thread out in the sun it will brown (quite considerably). Even worse if you’ve ironed without washing!

Unless you have yourself a house trained raccoon, you have to do the washing yourself. And its not obvious as you might think, but don’t worry, its easy. So lets jump in.

Washing cross stitch (source: peacockandfig.com)
Washing cross stitch (source: peacockandfig.com)

Washing

The problem with washing cross stitch is that the threads and aida aren’t treated dyes like your clothes. As a result, they bleed heavily. In addition, if you use special threads like metallics or glow in the dark threads they have metals or plastics in them which react differently. But there is a tried and tested way you can clean ANY cross stitch. This is even what you need to do if you’ve got dirt on your ironed piece.

There are two things you need. Ones a bowl, big enough to hold your piece (it can be rolled to fit, but don’t fold it). The second can be slightly harder to find; non-colored, non-bleached, non-abrasive dish soap. This is actually easy to find, but its always in an obscure place to see in the supermarket, so you might have to nose around a little bit.

Once you have everything, fill the bowl with water. COLD water. The colder the better in fact. This is the thing that stops the threads from losing their color.
Add 1 drop of dish soap per 5 liters (a normal washing up bowl is about 10). Then very slowly pass your hand through the bowl to mix it, making sure no bubbles form.
Then place the cross stitch on top and let it sink. Wait 15 minutes.

Drying

That was washing. Simple as letting it sit for 15 minutes. All it does it wash the oils through so they are more dilute so won’t bond to the thread. As a result, you don’t need to rub it off the cross stitch.
However all that water has left the threads weak, and the aida very pliable. Drying the correct way is the only way to make sure the finished piece is flat. You often pull the aida out of shape slightly when stitching, and the washing will release all of that stretch, leaving your piece warped. As a result, we dry in two stages.

Firstly, it’s VERY wet, so we need to take the bulk of water off. Get a towel large enough to place the cross stitch on, and roll from one edge to the other. Leave this for 5-15 minutes depending on the size of the piece (the larger pieces need longer, but if you’ve used plastic canvas it needs at least 20 minutes).

Pinning

Once the time is up unrolled. This stage could have a whole entry devoted to itself, there are a lot of different ways to do it, and people have come up with some creative ideas. However, I’ll tell you two ways. The idea here is to stretch the canvas out again.

Most people call this pinning as, you guessed it, there are pins involved. The first way does involve pins, but if you don’t have any to hand, move to the second option. You want to have a flat surface you can pin. I know that might be unlikely in some houses, so you can also use a flat bit of aida leftover (or even a bedsheet). If your backing is fabric, stretch that out first to make sure it’s flat. Then take your cross stitch and place it on top. Put a pin in a corner. Then in the opposite corner pull it as far as possible, and pin it. Do this all the way around the cross stitch. You should put a pin every inch/2 cm around the edge. Then let it dry some more! It’s likely to take about 2 days to dry fully.

No pins? No problem. Get two pegs and roll your project on its longest side. Do it tightly so there is a 1 cm gap in the center. Then pin the edges down so the role holds. This method uses the aida against itself, meaning it can’t warp. But it also means it takes AGES to dry. I would give it at least a week before you unroll. I would also make sure you put it somewhere dry and breezy instead of damp and humid.

Ironing

So its washed, great. Now it won’t get dirty in the sun. However what happens if you accidentally spill something on it? If its something like fruit juice it will stain. However, there is a super-easy way to stop this. Ironing. Basically it heats the threads up enough that they secrete their own natural oils, which seal the threads (this is how sheep stay dry if you’ve ever wondered). But if you throw the iron on top of your cross stitch it’s going to flatten it, so let’s go about this the right way.

Get a towel and dampen it slightly. You could do this under the tap, but make sure it’s not dripping if you pull it taught. It’s only meant to be JUST damp. I tend to iron before the washing is fully dry, so I use a towel in the washing. Heat the iron up to the highest level, and remove the steam.
Cross stitch face up on the ironing board, towel on top. Then iron, using a large amount of pressure.

Remember I was talking about getting dirt on your finished piece? Well, now any dirt should just wash away!
Not too hard, was it? Just need to frame it now or if you have too many like me; you’ll need to store it somewhere.

 

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Fifth Element Multipass Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Fifth Element Multipass Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

“fifth
Title: Multipass
Date Completed: June 2016
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: Black
Colors: 18
Film: The Fifth Element
 
My all-time favorite movie is the fifth element, and in the past, I’ve stitched a few things, such as the ZF-1 blueprint cross stitch. I finally decided to buy the remastered version and watched it again, and it was roughly the same time when loot crate were sending out their multipass props, and I knew I had to stitch one up. It’s based on the screen accurate model, which has some unique data in it; like leelo being classed as a man…
 
I tried to match the details as best I could, however, I couldn’t resist; in the end, I had to pick up one of those loot crate props.

 

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Create your own free Pokemon cross stitch pattern online

Porygon Cross Stitch by Aime Cox (source: aimecx.com)

Aime Cox of aimecx.com originally wrote this super sweet post on how to do free Pokemon cross stitch patterns yourself online. Not only is it a great guide, but it uses Porygon as an example! However, if you just want a quick Pokemon pattern, I have free Pokemon cross stitch patterns too

I love Pokémon, nowhere near as much as I love Digimon but that might well be another post. My boyfriend Alex also loves Pokémon, probably more than I do and probably more than the non-nerd society thinks a 28-year old man should.

As I’m such a bitchin’ girlfriend, I decided to create a Pokémon cross stitch for Alex to make up for being a bit cruddy at chores, working all the time and worst of all, dual-screening during Masterchef. So, Project Porygon was born.

Porygon Cross Stitch by Aime Cox (source: aimecx.com)
Porygon Cross Stitch by Aime Cox (source: aimecx.com)

Project Porygon!

Before I get started, I must mention that there are some alternatives available, Makibird-Stitching on DeviantArt has created some spiffing patterns that you can download for personal use.
You can also pay for templates from various Etsy stores, but I’m a much bigger fan of investing about 15 minutes to save myself some Dolla Dolla bill y’all.

In my previous post, I mentioned how searching for ‘sprites’ through Google images can help you find some really simple cross stitch patterns for beginners.

This method can also be used to create your own not-so-simple Pokémon cross stitch patterns.

1. Find a good source of Pokémon sprites

There’s literally a truck-load available. I like this one, and this one. Visit one of these links, and find an angle of a Pokémon that appeals to you. I chose the one in the triangle below.

Finding Porygon sprites online (source: aimecx.com)
Finding Porygon sprites online (source: aimecx.com)

Generation 4 was a strong one for Porygon.

Right-click, or drag and drop, to save the sprite to your desktop.

2. Convert the sprite to a JPG

Most of the sprites available are PNGs, the next program we’re going to use can’t cope with transparent backgrounds so it’s important to convert the file in order to have a white background.

If you’re on a Mac, you can open the file in Preview, select ‘Duplicate’ and then change the file format to JPG.

If you’re on a PC, you can do the same in MS Paint by opening the file and selecting ‘Save As’. Again, you need to choose ‘JPG’ from the drop-down.

You could also use these opportunities to trim any excess white space off the image – this will make your pattern easier in the long run.

Saving online Porygon image as a PNG (source: aimecx.com)
Saving online Porygon image as a PNG (source: aimecx.com)

3. Upload to My Photo Cross Stitch

This site is so cool considering it’s totally free. Visit this link and select ‘Advanced’ from the primary navigation at the top of the page.

Now, click ‘Select Image’ and upload your shiny new JPG. There’s a field to add the maximum number of thread colors. Be prepared to play around with this as each Pokémon is different. I find 5-8 is enough.

Pick colored boxes or symbols, or both, I like colored boxes but each to their own. Then simply select ‘Make Pattern’ et voilà! A beautiful pattern that you can download as a PDF, print or save it to a cloud drive for use on the road.

Porygon Cross Stitch unframed by Aime Cox (source: aimecx.com)
Porygon Cross Stitch unframed by Aime Cox (source: aimecx.com)

Porygon cross stitch final piece, still working out what to do with it.

And that’s it. Let me know in the comments how you got on with creating your own pattern!
 
Looking for something else? Check out our list of free cross stitch patterns for more.

 

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How do I make a free video game cross stitch pattern?

Pikachu cross stitch pattern missing stitch fixed example

I went over how to make a cross stitch pattern a few weeks ago, however, if you want to make a video game cross stitch, you actually have a slightly different set of options.

There are a few reasons for this, but the main ones are:

  • You can edit your pattern heavily
  • You work on a very small scale
  • You work with a limited color palette

In short, you’re making far more of the pattern than you would normally. In the below example I’m going to go through the whole guide using a space invader being eaten by Pacman.

Pacman eating space invader free pattern

Collecting your sprites

If you weren’t aware, the little characters in video games are called sprites. And the first step for any project is to get the sprites needed for your project. There are loads of dedicated sprite websites out there such as The Spriters Resource and Sprite Database, you could always search google images for the relevant characters like I have.
However you do it, make sure you save your images as PNG. This is to make sure the image quality is still super high.

Space Invader and Pacman Sprite

Resize your images

The chances are good that your sprites are the correct size to start, however, you’ll want to zoom in on the sprite to check, I would suggest something like paint, but Photoshop works well too.
You’re looking for is one pixel being over more than one pixel when zoomed in. If this is the case, you need to resize the image down to make sure its perfect. As you can see in the image below, we’ve resized the Space Invader. However, both pixel characters look good together, but I want an image where it looks like Pacman is eating the Invader, so I’ve made Pacman bigger.

Resized sprites

Image editing

In the example below, I’m happy with the image I have, however, this would be the time you may way to change things. This could be changing the hair color, adding parts, removing parts or adding a background. The options are yours.
The great thing about video game cross stitch is you can do ANYTHING to the sprites you want.

Pattern creation

So now you have to make a choice, and it’s based on colors. One way (option 1) we’ll manually pick the colors out, the other way (option 2) this will all be done for us.
Colors are very important for any pattern if one color is slightly off, it ruins the look, however in video game cross stitch this is even more important, as the color of Pikachu is THAT yellow, so you need to make sure its perfect. There are two questions I ask myself; how many colors are there? and Will an off-color ruin it?
If the answer is more than 20 colors and it won’t ruin the pattern to have one off-color, then go for option 2. Otherwise, always go option 1.

Option 1

You’re willing to pick out your own colors; great! This is how I do most of my patterns. The even better bit about this, however, is you can do it all from your image editing program. The first thing you need to do is to check the options. You’ll see that you can add a grid over your image. Well, this is the grid of your fabric, you’ve just made a pattern!

pattern example

But you do still need to pick colors. This is where a pattern chart comes in handy; you can see one here for DMC threads. You now need to select each color and pick a thread. Once you’re done, you can start stitching!

Option 2

The second option is a lot easier. We’re going to use an online pattern maker called MyPhotoStitch.com.
It’s super easy to use, just save your image, upload it, and it spits out the pattern, colors and all!

And that’s it! Easy.
 
Looking for something else? Check out our list of free cross stitch patterns for more.

 

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What’s the best cross stitch pattern software?

PCStitch Cross Stitch Software (source: PCStitch.com)

I often get asked “What’s the best cross stitch pattern software?” , and it shouldn’t surprise you that there are lots of options. This post details the most used cross stitch programs on PC, Mac, Online and iPad with online polls and feefo review scores. Updated May 2020.

Jump to PC
Jump to PC (Free)
Jump to Online
Jump to Mac
Jump to iPad & iPhone
Jump to Android
Jump to Linux
Jump to Unsupported Replacements

Best PC cross stitch pattern software:

WinStitch ($40 ($35 with discount)) – 10/10

Based on 3921 reviews
Use this link ($) or this link (£) to save yourself $5 when you buy!

 

WinStitch, and its Mac-based brother MacStitch, has a lot going for them. With a massive 30 thread types and great ease of use, it’s a fantastic competitor. However, it’s not been widely picked up due to its fairly young age (5 years), so it does not have as much following as PC Stitch. Also, the yearly upgrades are chargeable (although not required). Also, you can move the pattern from MacStitch to WinStitch with ease.
It can also open a lot of PCStitch files (not all) which makes it the most user-friendly of all software programs.

Demo: Yes
Threads: 30 brands
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: Yearly


PC Stitch ($50 ($20 with discount)) – 9/10

Based on 3283 reviews
You should also use the code “PCS11UPG” to save $30 when you buy!

 

PC Stitch is a full program with all the trimmings. Its base ease of use is great, however, it’s real advantages lie in better color picking (but I would still cast an eye over them to make sure), and 2000 pre-programmed patterns. It does have its negative though, as PC Stitch uses its own unique pattern files that can’t be opened without using PC Stitch’s separate pattern viewer. However, recently many competitors have unofficially included the ability to open, view and edit PC Stitch files.

Threads: DMC, Anchor, others
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: Yearly; additional cost


KG Chart ($35) – 7/10

Based on 2349 reviews

KG Chart has a fantastic set of stitches, incredible ease of use, and a lot of regular, and worthwhile updates. It’s been created by a non-stitcher, but their understanding of our needs is great. There are also forums and an email for support and issues. It’s the second most used program out there, and for £24 is a steal. There are however two things to note; firstly the colors can sometimes be a little red-based so require manual picking. The second issue is its a little buggy; it used to be our best pick, but as PCstitch started to improve, KG Chart just couldn’t keep up. Finally, a whole load of new apps don’t support KGchart patterns, meaning they aren’t as useful.

Threads: DMC & Cosmo
Print to PDF: No, you can download another (free) program called CutePDF to do this
Updates: Quarterly


BlendThreads (FREE) – 7/10

Based on 542 reviews

Built off the back of Ryijy, this pattern creator has come a long way. Initially, it’s much like any other pattern creator, with some advanced features in the printing sections. However, where BlendThreads stands out is the greatest two additions I think we’ve ever looked at. Firstly the thread selector program allows you to either pick a close fit thread based on what stock you have, but also allows for the blending of threads to get super accurate colors (I LOVE this). Secondly is its unique backstitch portion, which allows you to ‘trace’ the image with a transparency, meaning you can get super clean back stitches. However, it’s untested on Windows 8/10.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: Monthly


Istitch 2 ($30) – 7/10

Based on 42 reviews

Jane Greenoff’s latest pattern maker. Unlike the previous versions that were overly complicated for new users, the new Istitch has been built with simplicity in mind. Also, there are video guides (if you purchase the DVD version) to help new designers. As a result, it’s the easiest to get into at first, however finding more advanced features is a little difficult, meaning a serious designer might consider another program.
You can either buy the DVD version with guide videos, or the download without videos for the same price. The main issue, however, is that there are no updates to the program, and based on Istitch2 being a paid update of the previous version, I’d imagine you’d have to buy a new one every time Windows updates…

Threads: DMC & Anchor
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: Every 2 years; additional cost


HobbyWare Pattern Maker for cross-stitch ($60) – 5/10

Based on 72 reviews

HobbyWare is very much like STOIK it’s pretty much identical. However, there have not been any updates for 3 years (despite often website updates), which seems a little odd. However, their customer care team is one of the best around, which is something a lot of the competitors don’t have. Also, they have the best color blending options out there, and whilst this only really applies for larger patterns or professionals, its regarded by many as the best pattern maker commercially available.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: Every 2 years; additional cost


DP Software Cross Stitch Pro Platinum ($89) – 4/10

Based on 57 reviews

This is very similar to the old Jane Greenoff pattern making software, however, it’s updated yearly, has a limited selection, is complicated, and is VERY expensive considering its closest (and arguably a lot better) alternative is a quarter of the cost.

Threads: 20 Bands
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: Yearly, additional cost


StitchCraft ($155 to $830) – 4/10

Based on 227 reviews

Recently thought to be dead, StitchCraft has come back on the scene with MUCH higher prices and no improvements. It is a good program, with a nice set of tools on the advanced versions, but they ramp the price up to crazy levels; no one is willing to pay $830 for a cross stitch program that not only isn’t the world standard but isn’t that relevant anymore.

Threads: 33 different brands
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: Unknown


STOIK Stitch Creator ($51) – 4/10

Based on 121 reviews

You don’t hear much about STOIK programs, and I’ve never understood why. They do a great job and are reasonably priced. They are a larger team, so updates are regular, and there is good support. The only reason it doesn’t come higher on my list is its lack of backing from the community. If you have an issue, many would suggest you change to KG Chart or PC Stitch, where there is a wealth of help and guides from the stitching community.

Threads: DMC, Anchor & Maderia
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: Yearly


EasyGrapher Home ($99 to $299) – 4/10

Based on 27 reviews

A pretty good pattern creator in principle EasyGrapher is a program being sold and updated since 1988, however, sadly the last update was in 2009. They are still taking orders, and it’s not a bad piece of software, but there are much better ones out there.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: Not since 2009


Stitch Art Easy! (FREE) – 4/10

Based on 242 reviews

The only free fully fledged program on the list. Well, it’s free, and with that comes limited use. However, if you’re looking to spend as little as possible, Stitch Art Easy! will do the job. It’s got everything you might need and helps you get your head around making patterns. If you want a little more, you have the opportunity to purchase one of the other programs, so it’s a great starter program. If you do upgrade, WinStitch or MacStitch is most similar in design.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: No schedule


Stitch Painter Gold ($199) – 3/10

Based on 49 reviews

Stitch Painter Gold does a lot and is a nice alternative, but after 3 months of using it, I still can’t understand why the price is so high. It’s complicated to use comparatively and doesn’t have enough image editing capabilities. The biggest issue however is you have to use a USB stick supplied by them to use the program on your computer; meaning you have to have it plugged in constantly.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: Yearly


Ryijy Stitch Designer (FREE) – 3/10

Based on 23 reviews

The first fan built pattern making software, Ryijy is named after a Finnish rug, which the program can also do. It’s not been updated in a very long time, and only works with DMC threads, however, the base code is the starting point of almost 90% of the other cross stitch pattern generators out there.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: Not since 2003


ILSoft Stitch R-XP ($99) – 2/10

Based on 26 reviews

ILSoft used to be a major player in cross stitch generation programs, however in early 2008 they sold out to a larger owner, and since then the program has been all but ignored. It’s still an OK program, however, the lack of quality updates makes it a little lackluster compared to alternatives. Due to the lack of updates and no support, I would ALWAYS go for something that’s updated regularly, like PCStitch or WinStitch.

Threads: DMC & Anchor
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: Last updated 2009


StitchArtEasy ($15) – 2/10

Based on 9 reviews

A fairly well thought out program, but lacking in modern features that other software has, Stitch Art Easy failed in our reviews due to its cost (considering its so basic), but also due to its apparent nature to confetti everything.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: Monthly


Crosti (FREE) – 2/10

Based on 12 reviews

A pretty good program in principle, and whilst it can output in loads of files, accepts pretty much any image file going and has loads of thread options, it just lacks substance.

Threads: DMC, Anchor, Gamma, J&P coats, Madeira, Paterna, Cosmo & Silk Mori
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: 3 years ago


Scheme Maker (FREE) – 1/10

Based on 4 reviews

A basic cross stitch pattern generator that simply isn’t up to scratch. Many online generators are far superior and make much better results.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: Sporadic, but recent


Cstitch (FREE) – 0/10

Based on 7 reviews

All of the other reviews on this page are developed programs, officially released into the world. Cstitch, however, is slightly different. It’s open source. This means that no one owns the program. If you want something added to it, code it and add it yourself. Due to this, and its complicated nature to install (you have to compile it yourself) its scored the worst score possible in our reviews.

Threads: 15 Brands
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: None; open source




Best FREE PC cross stitch pattern software:

BlendThreads (FREE) – 8/10

Based on 542 reviews

Built off the back of Ryijy, this pattern creator has come a long way. Initially, it’s much like any other pattern creator, with some advanced features in the printing sections. However, where BlendThreads stands out is the greatest two additions I think we’ve ever looked at. Firstly the thread selector program allows you to either pick a close fit thread based on what stock you have, but also allows for the blending of threads to get super accurate colors (I LOVE this). Secondly is its unique backstitch portion, which allows you to ‘trace’ the image with a transparency, meaning you can get super clean back stitches. However, it’s untested on Windows 8/10.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: Monthly


Stitch Art Easy! (FREE) – 4/10

Based on 242 reviews

The only free fully fledged program on the list. Well, it’s free, and with that comes limited use. However, if you’re looking to spend as little as possible, Stitch Art Easy! will do the job. It’s got everything you might need and helps you get your head around making patterns. If you want a little more, you have the opportunity to purchase one of the other programs, so it’s a great starter program. If you do upgrade, WinStitch or MacStitch is most similar in design.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: No schedule


Ryijy Stitch Designer (FREE) – 3/10

Based on 23 reviews

The first fan built pattern making software, Ryijy is named after a Finnish rug, which the program can also do. It’s not been updated in a very long time, and only works with DMC threads, however, the base code is the starting point of almost 90% of the other cross stitch pattern generators out there.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: Not since 2003


Cstitch (FREE) – 1/10

Based on 7 reviews

All of the other reviews on this page are developed programs, officially released into the world. Cstitch, however, is slightly different. It’s open source. This means that no one owns the program. If you want something added to it, code it and add it yourself. Due to this, and its complicated nature to install (you have to compile it yourself) its scored the worst score possible in our reviews.

Threads: 15 Brands
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: None; open source


Best ONLINE cross stitch pattern software:

stitchfiddle.com (FREE) – 10/10

Based on 2341 reviews

A super easy to use pattern generator with some great features. This is all I need to say about this app, other than its free. It has DMC and Anchor threads and a larger 2000×2000 stitching area. Our first choice for patterns online.

Threads: DMC & Anchor
Print to PDF: Yes


Thread-Bare ($10 per pattern) – 10/10

Based on 641 reviews

Whilst Thread-are isn’t our first choice online pattern creator, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some great abilities. It’s far superior to any other online pattern creator, thanks to its well-built interface and great toolset. The only two downsides are that it can be a bit daunting to use at first, especially when trying to get the best out of the generator. And its biggest issue, it that $10 price point, per pattern, which if you’re making a pattern a month, can cost more than the most expensive options.

Threads: DMC & Riolis
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: Monthly


patterncreator.com ($7.50) – 7.5/10

Based on 654 reviews

Patterncreator.com is a great online option. It has everything you need but limited to a maximum of 250×250 stitching area, which considering the price point is a MAJOR issue. Too expensive, and with other better alternatives out there, its a surprise this cross stitch generator is still in use.

Threads: DMC, Anchor & Venus
Print to PDF: Yes


Moulinella ($7.99 per year) – 6.5/10

Based on 32 reviews

As online pattern creator go, Moulinella is really fast. This is backed up by a fairly reasonable pattern creation too. What makes it particularly good is that you can manually go in and pick new colors if they don’t quite match up to what you want; something not seen in any other online creator. But sadly, there are downsides. Most notable of these is the yearly paid subscription model. At $7.99 it’s not overly expensive, but a shame they went for this payment model. In addition, you’re limited to 79 colors maximum, which if you’re converting a photo can be limiting.

Threads: DMC, Anchor, Madeira & Gamma
Print to PDF: Yes


patternsforyou.com (FREE) – 6.5/10

Based on 1129 reviews

All online pattern makers have one big problem: limitations. With a large 300×300 stitching area, quite good image editing and color selection, patternsforyou should be better, but its just not that great at making patterns.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes


myphotostitch.com (FREE) – 6/10

Based on 394 reviews

With a limited 150×120 stitch area there are problems with myphotostitch, but the real beauty of the cross stitch generator is the ease of use. Select your image, and it does it all for you. The only options you get are changing the size (it defaults to maximum), but it’s the easiest of all pattern makers around. However, that said, I would suggest using the advanced version (also free), which gives a few more options. It still has that pesky size limitation, but so long as you’re doing something very small, it’s OK.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes


FreePatternWizard (FREE) – 6/10

Based on 26 reviews

Photo2CrossStitch, or FreePatternWizard as it’s now known has developed a lot since it first came onto our list. It started as frankly worthless, but as time went on, its feature set evolved, and its price point was removed totally. It’s now a great program. To see the advanced features you need to become a member (it’s also free), but its a great program all the same.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes


pixel-stitch.net (FREE) – 6/10

Based on 125 reviews

A simple image upload and export pattern creator, pixel-stitch is a great tool, with very good color picking and no size limits. The only issue is it doesn’t allow for image editing, or image creation, giving it a slightly lower score than it may otherwise deserve.

Threads: DMC & Anchor
Print to PDF: Yes


StitchingJoy (FREE) – 6/10

Based on 17 reviews

You upload your image, set the colors and size, and it makes a pdf output of your pattern; it is that simple. The only downsides are that the pattern maker struggles with dithering sometimes, and only creates symbol patterns; which can get complicated if you have a lot of colors.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes


stitchyourphoto.com ($5 per pattern) – 6/10

Based on 14 reviews

A nice editor, with quite a few options, however weirdly has a size selection only in inches. Due to the low cost of the per pattern fee, it ranks better than other more advanced online pattern makers, but its simple functions and poor patterns make it a worry to use sometimes.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes


The Folklore Company ($9/FREE per pattern) – 6/10

Based on 21 reviews

You don’t hear much from this pattern creator, but unlike its competitors, it has another something; like DMC’s Snap & Stitch you can purchase the whole kit, thread, aida, and needles included. The only bad sides are a lack of color on their patterns and there are fixed sizes.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes


DMC Snap & Stitch ($10/FREE per pattern) – 6/10

Based on 127 reviews

The new online photo converter from DMC lacks some of the finesse of other online converters, giving a questionable result, however, the unique feature of being able to buy all the threads for the pattern and then getting the pattern for free made it rate well with our testers.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes


PictureCraftWork ($12 per pattern) – 6/10

Based on 13 reviews

Costly is the first thing I can say about PictureCraftWork. If its less than 1000 stitches, it’s free, but anything more and it’s very costly. It has the added benefit of quite an advanced pattern creation toolset, but color picking is a little off, and, the biggest turn off for our testers; the patterns don’t come with gridlines, so you have to manually count.

Threads: DMC, Anchor & Madeira
Print to PDF: Yes


craftdesignonline (FREE) – 5/10

Based on 53 reviews

As a craft pattern app maker, you would expect craftdesignonline to be quite good, and it is, however its make for the younger market, with very limited image editing and a 100×100 stitch area. It does have a cool feature of sharing your patterns though!

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes


Pic2Pat (FREE) – 5/10

Based on 218 reviews

Pic2Pat used to be used so much. It was the only real option online for a long time, and the fact that it was free made it even better. But since then, it hasn’t improved. While other programs have advanced giving great outputs and super customizable patterns, Pic2Pat languishes in the past.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes


StitchBoard (FREE) – 5/10

Based on 42 reviews

A simple program, with a few options you can play with, and 4 different thread brands. It has a few options that work in its favor, however, you cannot do any image editing. To score lower than most of the costly online pattern creates just goes to show that StitchBoard doesn’t rank well with our testers, and they would much prefer to be using other systems.

Threads: DMC, Anchor, Maderia & Red Heart
Print to PDF: Yes


Best MAC cross stitch pattern software:

MacStitch ($40 ($35 with discount)) – 10/10

Based on 3921 reviews
Use this link ($) or this link (£) to save yourself $5 when you buy!

 

This is the Mac version of WinStitch, our first place PC option. It’s the same great program but written from the ground up so it works perfectly on all Macs (something other apps struggle with). Also, the key feature is that if you own PCStitch, you can move the pattern between the two. It’s simple to use the program, it has loads of options and works super smoothly.

Demo: Yes
Threads: 30 brands
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: Yearly


stitchfiddle.com (FREE) – 10/10

Based on 2341 reviews

OK, I tricked you. Stitchfiddle is an online program, however, with a tonne of great features, it easily competes with paid software. With some of the prices of Mac software being through the roof (see below) being free helps StitchFiddle’s case. An easy interface, DMC & Anchor threads and a very large (2000×2000) stitching area.

Threads: DMC & Anchor
Print to PDF: Yes


DP Software Cross Stitch Pro Platinum ($130) – 4/10

Based on 57 reviews

This is very similar to the old Jane Greenoff pattern making software, however, it’s updated yearly, has a limited selection, is complicated, and is VERY expensive considering its closest (and arguably a lot better) alternative is a quarter of the cost.

Threads: 20 Bands
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: Yearly, additional cost


Stitch Painter Gold ($199) – 3/10

Based on 49 reviews

Stitch Painter Gold does a lot and is a nice alternative, but after 3 months of using it, I still can’t understand why the price is so high. It’s complicated to use comparatively and doesn’t have enough image editing capabilities. The biggest issue however is you have to use a USB stick supplied by them to use the program on your computer; meaning you have to have it plugged in constantly.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: Yearly


Crosti ($13) – 1/10

Based on 5 reviews

Better than the free Windows version, Crosti for Mac is just in need of a good update in feature set. It also struggles to work on newer Macs, despite a few updates.

Threads: DMC, Anchor, Gamma, J&P coats, Madeira, Paterna, Cosmo & Silk Mori
Print to PDF: Yes
Updates: Yearly


Best iPad & iPhone cross stitch pattern software:

Magic Needle (FREE) – 9/10

Based on 318 reviews

A new entry to the world of cross stitch generators, Magic Needle is effectively a ‘point and click’ pattern generator, however, its simplicity and user-friendly interface are what makes it so well-loved. As the only true free cross stitch generator for iPad and iPhone is worth a shot anyway and is a great entry point for any beginners.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: NO


StitchSketch ($8) – 8/10

Based on 274 reviews

StitchSketch is created by the maker of KG Chart and improves on many features KG Chart does not have. It’s a fantastic program, which works almost as well as any desktop program. The only downside, however, is the cost (but what’s £5 compared to the highest-priced review of £137?).

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes


Cross Stitch Creator ($10) – 8/10

Based on 26 reviews

Cross Stitch Creator does a good job at converting images into pattern and has recently been updated to edit patterns after generation, but its real features are how it allows you to mark up the pattern as you go, the only pattern maker on the list that goes beyond just making patterns.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes


Cross Stitch Camera ($4) – 3/10

Based on 41 reviews

Cross Stitch Camera works, you guessed it, with your camera. It takes a photo (which can be from your phone’s memory) and makes a pattern based on the largest dimension you set. It does not have the number of colors to pick, it doesn’t allow for post-editing, and it doesn’t produce a pdf, however, its color selections are very good. It’s a bit of a quirky app, and a little lacking in features.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: NO


Cross Stitch Saga ($11) – 2/10

Based on 24 reviews

Sadly, the Cross Stitch Saga for iOS isn’t the same as the android app. The android app is feature-packed, super useful and a frankly great addition to any cross stitcher’s arsenal. The iOS app is not. It has only a tiny amount of features, it doesn’t even support PDFs and its slightly lower price point doesn’t make up for that.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes


Best ANDROID cross stitch pattern software:

Cross Stitch Saga ($13) – 10/10

Based on 1164 reviews

Its great feature set goes beyond just making a pattern, however, without a doubt, it’s the fullest, most feature-packed app going for mobile or android. Its new higher price point, however, means trying a cheaper alternative first might be the name of the game.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes


eCanvas for cross-stitch PRO ($3) – 8/10

Based on 176 reviews

A fantastic app, with fantastic reviews from anyone that uses it. It’s easily comparable to the likes of paid PC software, however, makes use of touch screen android devices to give really good usability. The only real negatives are that it doesn’t come with instructions or a tutorial, and isn’t updated as often as other apps (yet still once a quarter).
They also constantly add to the apps core features, so it will continue to develop and get better over the near future.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes


XStitch Designer ($1) – 7/10

Based on 225 reviews

For only a dollar it’s hard to say anything bad about this app, however using this app for the last 3 months, I know its pattern making ability is great. However, without the ability to print or transfer the patterns to PC it’s not a fantastic part of your pattern making arsenal. You can share it via integrated social media, however, you also have to have the app to access the file, and you can’t lock it down.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes


Best LINUX cross stitch pattern software:

KXStitch (FREE) – 6/10

Based on 12 reviews

As the only Linux pattern program out there, KXStitch might be your only Linux choice; but that doesn’t make it a good program. It’s lacking in special stitches, more thread sets, and it’s a drain on CPU. However, its easy to use does help it out massively, which is why its score is higher than you’d expect.

Threads: DMC
Print to PDF: Yes


Unsupported Software Replacements:

Sew and So Cross Stitch Designer (PC)

REPLACEMENT: WinStitch ($40 ($35 with discount)) – 10/10
For cheaper than the old SewandSo product, you can upgrade to WinStitch, an easier to use, and all round better program.

Jane Greenoff’s Cross Stitch Designer (PC)

REPLACEMENT: Istitch 2 ($30) – 7/10
Very similar to Jane’s previous design software, Istitch 2 is the next generation, and has a lot of improvements on the original.

Photoshop Swatches (PC)

REPLACEMENT: Ryijy Stitch Designer (FREE) – 4/10
The only usable free alternative, Ryijy is open source and works independantly from Photoshop, but with a very similar process.

MyriaCross (PC)

REPLACEMENT: WinStitch ($40 ($35 with discount)) – 10/10
MyriaCross gave some of its code to WinStitch, so they could replicate their features. As a result, its the best, and closes alternative

Easy Cross (PC)

REPLACEMENT: WinStitch ($40 ($35 with discount)) – 10/10
Slightly less easy to use, but a full software option

PixelCraft (ONLINE)

REPLACEMENT: stitchfiddle.com (FREE) – 10/10
A slightly improved version of PixelCraft

StitchCraft (MAC)

REPLACEMENT: MacStitch ($40 ($35 with discount)) – 9/10
A similar, but much more advanced program

Spriter (MAC)

REPLACEMENT: stitchfiddle.com (FREE) – 10/10
Just as simple to use, but without the need for installation. In addition has slightly better editing tools

Cross Stitch 2 Go HD (IPAD)

REPLACEMENT: StitchSketch ($8) – 8/10
A slight improvement on Cross Stitch 2 Go HD, with a higher price tag

X-Stitch (IPAD)

REPLACEMENT: StitchSketch ($8) – 8/10
A better app, but comes with a beefy price too

Cross Stitch Saga (IPAD/IPHONE)

REPLACEMENT: StitchSketch ($8) – 8/10
Following Cross Stitch Saga’s removal from the apple store, the best alternative is StitchSketch a paid alternative from the makers of KGchart.


I’ve also created a great infographic on which is the best cross stitch pattern software for easy selection. The android edition of Cross Stitch Saga is still available.

 

 

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Super Miniature 3D Ecruteak City Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Miniature 3D Ecruteak City Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

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Title: Ecruteak City
Date Completed: May 2016
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Video Game: Pokemon
 
After playing with a miniature arcade cabinet that tested my small plastic canvas creations, I wondered just how small I could go. I settled on trying the smallest scale possible, make one cross stitch one meter (or 1:500 scale if you’re interested).
I’ve been throwing a lot of ideas around following a trip to Japan in late 2014, and I started by making a torii gate. I left it unfinished and when I went back I started putting pieces together and thinking ‘oh, maybe a tree would look good’, etc. It eventually evolved from there, and it turned into the Pokemon Ecruteak City.
 
Ecruteak City is actually different in the anime, manga, and games, and so this is a combination of a series of images and videos to make the most generalized city. 
The bell tower (tin tower originally) is the main feature of the city, designed in the traditional way, with accurate angles, which has 9 floors with purple roofs, complete with a golden stand on top, which is meant to draw the legendary Pokemon Ho-oh to it. The opposite side sits the ill-fated burnt tower, with only 2/3 floors left, where the legendary Lugia used to reside. Both are on raised land masses to add to their height, which is shown in most iterations of the city.
 
You can also find a Pokemon center, gym, PokeMart, zen garden, two red bridges, a pagoda, cherry tree, a blank house tile (which has always featured in both games and anime, I have no idea why), and trees surrounding the whole city.
It’s 3.5″ by 3.5″, and 4″ tall.

Inspiration: Asano Takeji's Moon Light In Yasaka Pagoda (left), Pokemon Tin Tower (middle top), Ho-Oh in Pokemon anime (top right), Tin Tower over Ecruteak City (bottom right)
Inspiration: Asano Takeji’s Moon Light In Yasaka Pagoda (left), Pokemon Tin Tower (middle top), Ho-Oh in Pokemon anime (top right), Tin Tower over Ecruteak City (bottom right)