An octopus with a space pattern jumping out of a teacup may not be the first thing you think of when you think about a cross stitch pattern relating to tea, but we’d argue that this pattern is exactly like a cup of tea. When looking at tea patterns we found a whole slew of cups, kettles, tea bags and other tea-related items, but that’s exactly what they were; just items. This pattern, sold by LoLaLottaShop but designed by Vik Dollin shows what it’s like sipping a cup of tea. The complex flavor battling together is like the wild space design, whilst its warm, calming, hugs from many hands feeling is like an octopus giving you a hug. This pattern is a fantastic example of what drinking tea really is.
It helps that it’s totally unique too; how many other octopus/space/tea hybrid cross stitch patterns are there?
Finally, it should be noted that we included this pattern on a list of how to find great cross stitch patterns online. It was such a good pattern, that we featured it. If that’s not a show of admiration, I don’t know what is.
With websites like Etsy, eBay and a whole host of other sites selling cross stitch patterns, you could be fooled into thinking all of these cross stitch patterns are going to great to stitch. But the frank, and sometimes disappointing truth is that some, even most, are bad patterns.
Whilst that might not seem too bad considering the cost of some of these cross stitch patterns are less than $5, however, do you really want to spend 100 hours stitching to find only at the end that the pattern didn’t live up to the hype?
Well, I’m here to help you pick the best quality cross stitch patterns, every time. With these 5 simple rules, you can make sure the cross stitch pattern will come out like its supposed to.
Is there a stitched example?
The first thing to think about when selecting a cross stitch pattern is how it looks. Not the design, but how it looks stitched.
A lot of sellers, particularly on Etsy, sell patterns without ever stitching them. This is worrying for two reasons; firstly you don’t know how the image actually looks with threads; just computer-generated Xs. Secondly, with no one actually stitching it, you don’t know if it’s full of confetti or not. As a result, I would NEVER buy a pattern without seeing a real stitched example.
But that doesn’t mean any post without a stitched example should be avoided. Let me explain using two examples of good patterns from Etsy.
The above pattern is a great example of someone who shows a stitched example, they have 8 pictures of 6 stitched examples on their store front. You can see, this is a great pattern. Our second example below however only has the inital computer make pattern image:
However, with some searching in the comments on the shop, you can see 4 different stitched examples by customers. This pattern, is a good one. They just haven’t stitched it themselves. So sometimes, you have to go searching!
Look for stitch and color counts
When it comes to cross stitch patterns, sometimes, you need it to be high detail. And that’s great, but when you put an image through a cross stitch pattern generator without knowing what you’re doing, it comes out massive, with a lot of colors, and a whole load of confetti.
Once again, we’ll look at the Octopus Tea cross stitch pattern by LoLaLottaShop on Etsy. In the octopus, you have a wave of colors and detail. But they’ve specifically gone through the image to both reduce the size, amount of colors and still keep the design to a high standard. However looking at the below example I’ve recreated another way; making it big, and adding as many colors as I could. In the below example is over 300 stitches wide, and has over 50 colors. Yet the quality, is clearly not as good.
A big pattern will look like it has a lot of detail, however, the sacrifice is a lot of threads (which can cost a fortune) and making it truly hell to stitch.
Is it copyrighted?
Yes. Copyright; everyone’s least favorite topic. Sadly, in cross stitch copyright is a serious problem. A simple tip often used is to ask yourself “is it a recognizable character/image?” and normally, you can sidestep most major copyright holders. However, that doesn’t mean the pattern you’re about to buy isn’t copyrighted.
Imagine a pattern that evokes feelings of Disney; its fan art of some kind. Looks like a painting. It’s nicely done. This might not be copyrighted by Disney, as its fan art. But the maker of the cross stitch pattern is almost definitely not the artwork’s original creator. That original creator, has copyright on his image. ALWAYS look to see any copyright messaging on cross stitch patterns before you buy. Using our Octopus Tea Cross Stitch Pattern again, we can see a little message in the notes:
“Octopus” counted cross stitch pattern. Designed by Vik Dollin.
We can see that this pattern has been made by someone else and the permission was given to make a cross stitch pattern. You should always be able to see a message like this, even if it is created by the pattern designer.
Is the price super low? Its probably stolen.
Another possible issue plaguing sites like Etsy are stolen patterns. Some people purchase a pattern from a reputable place, such as floss and mischief, who recently won awards for her cross stitch patterns two years running, and then they’ll sell them on at a really really low price.
As a result, you should look at the price. Most cross stitch patterns (not kits) sell between $5 and $20, based on size and complexity. However, a quick search of Etsy and I can see some patterns sold for as low as 20 cents. No designer worth their salt can produce quality patterns for anything less than $5 a time.
If you see any lower than that, they’re either stolen from someone or seriously poor quality.
When researching for this post we actually found my Pokemon Great Wave Cross Stitch sold, using my images. The issue is that I’ve never released this pattern. Instead, they put my image, with watermark through pattern making software. The result was nothing like the original and even included my watermark…
Is it from a reputable source?
This one is a little more difficult to judge. If you were to buy a pattern from, lets say peacock & fig you’d know its a quality pattern. The reason is that she’s a real designer (who does it as a day job) and is bound by laws as she’s making her living from it. But places like Etsy and eBay are known to have issues with copyright. Therefore you need to be far more careful when selecting patterns from these sites. Equally, the rise of Aliexpress in cross stitch is a serious problem; a lot of these patterns are stolen, of bad quality or just knock off (don’t start us about the kits), therefore I wouldn’t suggest buying any patterns.
OK, this one isn’t actually about finding quality cross stitch patterns, but it is important (its also our 6th point, sorry!). Cross stitch designers regularly make little to no profit and so when you find a pattern you like; don’t give it to a friend once you’re finished. Tell them about it, so they can buy a copy themselves. If everyone shared their patterns; the best designers wouldn’t be able to make more patterns.
And that’s it! With a few simple steps, you can see if the pattern you want to buy, is going to be a good one or not. I hope this helps, and enjoy never having a bad pattern ever again!
Title: Matrix Code
Date Completed: April 2019
Design: Lord Libidan
Pop Culture: The Matrix Trilogy
It’s rare for me to continue editing a pattern whilst stitching a project. It is, after all, the worst time possible to change a cross stitch pattern. However, that didn’t stop me with this project! I edited it 4 times during stitching.
I guess we should start back at the beginning. I had just finished 4 back to back Pikachu on my animated running Pikachu cross stitch, and I hadn’t got anything to stitch. That isn’t a new problem, in fact, I’ve spoken about getting cross stitch inspiration before, but unlike previous times, this was on purpose. I know that might sound crazy, but I stitch a lot of different things, from loads of areas, and wanted to go back to basics and see what really excited me. From the back of this I came up with a load of big projects, however, there was one that I thought would be small. I was wrong.
I’ve done a lot of interface/computer screen stitches in the past, like my Voyager Star Trek LCARS cross stitch and really wanted to do something similar. I had just so happened to see that it was the 10 year anniversary of The Matrix and I remembered one of the best computer screens in cinema history. The Matrix code.
I grabbed an image of the code from Wikipedia and started charting and soon realized, that despite the apparent simplicity of the code, it was actually super complicated. So my first step was to create a whole cross stitch alphabet but much like the original code, I needed letters that looked recognizable but weren’t. I made a total of 29 characters, which I then had to put through a random number generator to place each letter in a massive grid. I had originally wanted to make a massive pattern, however, less than 1/10th of the way through the pattern was taking me AGES. And whilst it was far from a 100 hour cross stitch pattern, it was too much.
I cut the pattern down and finished the pattern.
At this point all seemed good, I picked out 18 count fabric to get nice small letters, and make it fit a rough landscape frame. However, when stitching, and rewatching The Matrix, I realized that 90s screens aren’t landscape, they were square. So the first cut came in the form of the pattern becoming a lot more square (not perfectly, however). The second change came in the form of an error on my part. Instead of the whole height, I missed out on two letters (I really should have gridded by cross stitch). I cut the pattern down again, followed by a further reduction in width after I realized the pattern wouldn’t be square enough. Finally, I cut the last line of code off as I ran out of green DMC 700.
However, despite all of that, it’s still too big to frame, looks too much like Japanese and is too bright. However, I REALLY loved stitching this. I haven’t approached a lot of 90s movies, preferring the 80s, and really loved the computer screen part of it. I reckon the whole nothing to stitch thing worked.
This weeks theme, is dinosaurs. Whilst you can find a whole load of Jurassic Park inspired cross stitch patterns online, its rare to see a skeleton. Mostly, this is down to how dang hard they are to turn into patterns. However SongThread has not only managed to make super accurate dino skeletons, but put a whole load of fun into them with the addition of a crazy cat. Whilst I’m a self confessed dog fan, these are just too good to pass up.
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?
Does it take 100 hours to make a commerical pattern?
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.
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.
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.
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 away from anything possibly copyrighted, so have to make everything themselves, which takes time.
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, let’s use some examples.
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.
The final thing is quality. We’ve spoken about the quality of pattern makers before in our post about if free cross stitch pattern makers better than paid however lets put that to aside 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 beside 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, it’s hard to say. However, I doubt it.
We know their patterns are detailed, they can’t work from imagery so have to make it themselves, and they make high-quality patterns. However, it’s 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 guarantee 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.
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…
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 available 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.
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.
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, it’s 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!
Time to stitch
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.
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 it’s still fun for them; not a chore!
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 are 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.
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 solar system diagram in the back, with actual planets superimposed on top, the super-stylized 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 they’re 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.
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!
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.
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
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 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.
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.