When should you pay for a pattern maker?

Last week we reviewed the differences between paid and free cross stitch programs and decided that whilst paid once were better, free ones held up quite well. But that doesn’t tell you when you should pay for a pattern maker, and when you pay, which type is best.
 
The first thing to discuss is the possible types of pattern maker you can get:
Free – Made using a simple pattern maker without customisation
Patterns As A Service – You pay for one pattern at a time
Fully Capable – Lots of customisation options, but a big learning curve
 
So with that in mind, let’s get into when you should pay, and which ones I suggest.

When you want a super realistic outcome

After a few cross stitch kits and patterns from others, its a fairly regular thing to want to stitch a photo you own, however free pattern makers just aren’t capable of making a realistic pattern in most cases (see the discussion on dithering on last weeks post). As a result, in order to get something realistic, you have to pay. But that doesn’t mean you need to shell out wads of cash. The patters-as-a-service model is perfect here, offering you the chance to get a pattern made with really good tools, without much effort, for only $10.
A word of warning though, if you want more than 5 patterns a year, we suggest you keep reading!
 
Our suggestion: thread-bare.com ($10) or patterncreator.com ($7.50)
Whilst pattern creator is cheaper and reviews slightly better overall in our tests, we find thread-bare has some fantasticly realistic outputs so long as you’re willing to experiment with the settings.

When you want something custom

There are a whole load of cross stitch patterns on places like Etsy, but what happens if you want something custom? The only choice is a paid pattern maker. This might take the form of something small, or something massive like the pattern below, but whatever changes you want, you need a robust pattern maker that can handle it.

Great Wave Inspired Japanese Cross Stitch Pattern by Lord Libidan (Source: Etsy)
Great Wave Inspired Japanese Cross Stitch Pattern by Lord Libidan (Source: Etsy)

 
Our suggestion: WinStitch (for Windows) or MacStitch (for Mac) $48
For us, Ursa Softwares WinStitch and MacStitch are the best on the market, and reviewed best on our review of the best cross stitch pattern software too. It has everything you can think of to help you make any pattern you can dream up.

When you intend to make more than 5 patterns a year

When you want to make more than 5 patterns a year, I would invest in a really good pattern maker. The advantage here is that not only do you get patterns cheaper, but you have ALL the control, meaning you can make anything from a tiny change, to a massive custom piece. If you just want a plug and play pattern, you can do that, but as you progress, or you want to make more changes, all the functionality is built in. The cherry on top? Once you purchase the software, you never had to pay for a pattern again, meaning you save on the first year by $10, and then the following years by $50+.
 
Our suggestion: WinStitch (for Windows) or MacStitch (for Mac) $48
Once again Ursa software offers the best option here, no only as its just under $50 (the price of 5 patterns on a pattern-as-a-service model) but also allows for a more realistic output and gives you access to tools you’ll need as you progress in pattern making.

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