How to create your own cross stitch patterns

cross-stitch image by Lytse from

Having trouble finding the perfect counted cross-stitch pattern that suits your interests or personality? If so, try creating your own cross-stitch patterns that are uniquely you. If you are artistic, you can create your own designs by hand.

If drawing is not your thing, you can purchase a computer program that will help you create your own unique designs. Cross-stitch software allows you to print the pattern from your computer and will also include your colour key and corresponding floss colours. Either way, you will soon be cross-stitching designs that you will enjoy for years to come.

Find an image you want to make into a counted cross-stitch pattern. If you are new to pattern-making, choose a simple image with only a few colours, such as a flower.

Enlarge or shrink your image to the size you want using a photocopier. The size of the photocopy isn't necessarily the size your cross-stitch will be, but the image must be large enough to make symbols on the graph paper to represent different colours.

Trace the image on to graph paper. The blocks on the graph paper represent the squares on your counted cross-stitch fabric. Most graph paper is thin enough to use for tracing, but if your graph paper is too thick, you can sketch the image directly on to the paper.

Use the colour pencils to fill in your design. Use from three to seven colours if this is your first design.

Mark each block with a symbol to represent the colour you will stitch there. Later, you will choose floss colours to match your symbols. For counted cross-stitch you do not transfer the image to the cross-stitch fabric.

Use cross-stitch software for more complicated designs, or if you simply do not feel comfortable drawing. Hobbyware Patternmaker Cross-Stitch software and PC Stitch are two user-friendly options.

Choose a high-quality and focused image; this can be a photograph or image from a magazine, the Internet, or from your own collection. Your software will come with some stock images as well. If you use your own image, you will need to scan it to your computer. If this is your first time designing your own cross-stitch pattern, choose an image with limited colours and with little or no background. Backgrounds can be tedious to try to stitch, especially if they are blurry or busy.

Import your image to the software. If using your own scanned photo or an image from the Internet, save it to your desktop and follow the instructions on your software for uploading the image.

Choose how many colours you want to work with. Cross-stitch pattern programs show you what the design will look like with X number of colours. Experiment here; vary the number of colours until the design still looks pleasing, but is not too complex. Generally, you don't want to go over 30 or 40 different colours; beginners should start with three to seven colours.

Remove any areas from the photo you do not wish to include in your pattern using the eraser tools provided in your software program. Once your are satisfied with your image, follow the instructions on your software program to complete your pattern.