How to make a pattern by using graph paper

Updated April 17, 2017

Let your imagination run wild and turn any image or design into a graph paper pattern. You can then use the image as a stitch chart for many types of needlecrafts including cross stitch, plastic canvas, loom beading, fillet or tapestry crochet, and knitting. Graph paper patterns are also useful for making other crafts such as tile mosaics. Transfer designs by hand onto graph paper or use a purchased or online software program to convert a digital image to a graph paper pattern.

Lay the graph paper over the printed or photocopied image or design. The image can be a picture you've taken, an image from a book or the Internet, or your own drawing.

Tape the sheets of paper at eye level to a bright window with the graph paper facing you. Use a pencil to trace the image onto the graph paper. Remove the paper from the window when finished and separate the sheets.

Create a new outline with the pencil on the graph paper. Use the graph paper squares closest to the tracing to "square off" the design.

Match coloured pencils or crayons to floss or yarn colours on colour charts if making a needlework pattern, or other colour chart if making a pattern for another type of craft. Use the coloured pencils or crayons to colour each square of the graph paper, which then become the stitches when making the needlework.

Use a stitch software program, such as PCStitch, to open the digital image or upload the image to an online conversion site.

Modify the image, such as adjusting brightness, until you achieve the desired look.

Select the size and number of colours, if available. Some software maps colours to floss or yarn colour charts. If your software does not map colours automatically, find the RGB colour values used in the digital image and match to the colours on the chart. Most floss or yarn companies provide RGB values for their colours.

Select the menu option or button to have the software generate the graph paper pattern. Print the pattern using a colour printer and create your custom piece of art.

Things You'll Need

  • Graph paper
  • Printed or photocopied image or design to make into a pattern
  • Graph paper (10 squares to the inch; 2.5cm)
  • Tape
  • Pencil
  • Crayons or coloured pencils
  • Embroidery floss or yarn colour chart
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About the Author

Joy Prescott has over 12 years experience as a technical writer. Since 1980 she has been a professional crochet pattern designer, publishing in many crochet magazines including "Crochet!" and "Crochet World," and in books such as "Today’s Crochet: Sweaters from the Crochet Guild of America." Prescott has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.