How to Transfer a Design to a Counted Cross Stitch Fabric

Updated February 21, 2017

Cross-stitching is a type of decorative sewing that revolves around patterns that appear on graph paper. Although you can shop for various cross-stitch patterns, designing your own pattern can be fun and even more rewarding. You can transfer your design to a grid and then to the fabric with a little time and effort.

Download free cross-stitch graph paper from a website such as

Pencil in a design onto the paper by filling in squares on the grid to form an outline. If you've never done this before, consider looking at pre-made cross-stitch patterns first to see what one looks like. You can view free patterns at a website such as

Colour in the design using coloured pencils.

Fold your graph in half vertically and horizontally to find the centre.

Fold a piece of size 14 fabric in half vertically and horizontally to find the centre.

Place the fabric between the two rings of an embroidery hoop with the centre of the fabric in the middle of the rings and twist the screw at the top of the rings to secure the fabric in place.

Match the colours on your graph with cross-stitch thread colours, and choose a colour near the centre to begin.

Thread a size 24 needle with the colour you chose.

Push the needle up through a hole in the centre of the fabric (from back to front). Be sure to leave an inch or two of thread as a "tail" on the back.

Cross the needle upward and diagonally to the next hole (to the right and up one row from the hole you just entered). Pull the needle back through this hole, bringing it to the back again.

Re-enter the fabric from back to front, making your needle emerge from the hole directly to the right of the first hole you entered, making sure you lap the tail of the thread in the back of the picture.

Cross over one hole and up one row once more. Continue this diagonal stitching until you get to the end of the row or colour for that row on the graph. (You'll have to count on your graph how many squares you'll need.)

Go back over the pattern you just stitched, creating a reverse stitch so that the thread makes an "X" in each square. Continue this type of stitching until you complete the number of squares required for each colour on the grid.

Things You'll Need

  • Graph paper
  • Pencil
  • Coloured pencils
  • Cross-stitch fabric
  • Needles
  • Cross-stitch thread
  • Embroidery hoop
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About the Author

Charlotte Johnson is a musician, teacher and writer with a master's degree in education. She has contributed to a variety of websites, specializing in health, education, the arts, home and garden, animals and parenting.