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How to Design a Cross Stitch Pattern

It’s okay if, as a knitter, you have never considered designing your cross stitch pattern. The discouragement may be due to how some designs seem too complex to design.

Yet, it may not be as complex as it looks to design a cross stitch pattern for yourself. So, all you need is to learn the simple techniques for the simple designs first.

Then advance into the complicated designs as you go gain skills.

How to Design a Cross Stitch Pattern?

Designing a cross stitch pattern for the first time can be challenging. It is when you have no idea how to go about it.

If you can stitch it, then you can design it. Once you learn how to design your cross stitch patterns, you will not worry anymore.

So, follow the steps below to arrive at your first simple design.

2 Simple Ways to Design a Cross Stitch Pattern

There are two main methods you can use to design a cross stitch pattern. One is by use of hand, and the other is using the software.

1. Designing Cross Stitch Pattern by Hand

When designing a cross stitch pattern by hand, grid papers are the best choice to complete the process. That’s because they include vertical and horizontal lines, creating squares.

So, you can use the squares to represent complete cross stitches.

What Do You Need to Design a Cross Stitch by Hand?

1. An Image to Design

For beginners, choose simple images or designs. So, you can start even with an image as simple as a heart shape.

2. A Pencil

You will need a pencil for tracing your desired shape onto your grid paper. Lay your image over a backlight before beginning to trace it. In short, it will assist in reflecting your image as you trace it.

3. Grid Paper

The reason why you have to use grid paper and not any other is the squares. The squares on the grid paper will serve as whole cross stitches.

Lay the grid paper on the image against a backlight and begin tracing all the major lines.

Finish designing your pattern by completing the squares image with an X-shape each. After that, use different colors as you desire to mark different color stitches.

Mark total squares with whole stitches and half squares with half stitches.

2. Designing Your Cross Stitch Pattern Using a Software

Software designing for cross stitch patterns is easy. But only if you have mastered the whole process.

Using software to design cross stitch patterns is helpful. That’s because it provides you with many programs to work with for designing purposes.

Free software will restrict you to simplistic designs and few mixes of colors. However, paid software provides a wide range of colors and designs to choose from their collections.

Thus, always ensure when designing using software to use your images. Online images need permission before using them.

There are some great software tools to design cross stitch patterns. The most common ones are MacStitch and Winstitch.

Thus, to use this software, you will need to buy their license and install them on your PC or Mac.

Using A Software to Design Your Cross Stitch Pattern

Use the quick start guide on the software to learn more about each one of them. A quick guide will provide you with all the info you need, especially when you are a beginner.

Follow the steps below to guide you into designing a simple cross stitch pattern using the software.

Step 1: Install the software into your Mac or PC and test its functionality. After that, open the program and click on new, then click on your design size.

It will get you to the next window, where you will make changes according to your needs.

Step 2: Now, it’s time to select the number of stitches to use. The number of stitches will range to some extent.

Step 3: In this stage, you can change your fabric’s shape according to what you want it to look like after completion. Tick on keep ratio for a square shape and un-tick to adjust the measurements.

Step 4: Pick the color you want to have for your fabric. But you can change the fabric color later, too.

So if you have not decided on your fabric color yet, choose any color and change it later. After that, start adding the DMC colors of your choice for the stitches.

Step 5: Here is when you will start designing to get your image. Start with simple concepts but use your images and not from the internet.

You can also use the image already traced on your grid paper for a start. Then, click on each square with different colors according to your image.

Step 6: Finally, export your finished design into PDF so that you can save it or be able to share it.

How to Design Cross Stitch Patterns With Photoshop?

Before you decide to use Photoshop to design your pattern, you need to know what design you want.

Step 1: First of all, you can create a new document with the required size. Use the resolution to set the thread count you will use for the specific size of the fabric.

It will depend on the precise size of your actual fabric to cross-stitch.

Step 2: Now select the pencil tool that you will use to draw X shapes in the squares. Every square represents a full cross stitch.

Step 3: Draw any image or design you want but use simpler ones for a start.

Step 4: Once you finish drawing your design by marking the squares, now draw the lines. Click on image size and adjust the dimensions to the size you will be stitching on fabric.

Step 5: In the illustrator, open Photoshop documents. A window will pop up at this stage, prompting you to import the mage.

Then, select Flatten Layers to a Single Image and click okay.

Step 6: Select the image and then click on Create Object Mosaic option. Enter the image size dimension you used earlier in the number of tiles section and click okay.

Step 7: A grid will form over your image. Now fill the stroke line with a color of your choice that is more visible over the image.

Deselect the image, and there you go!

Step 8: Export your image into PDF format and save it.

Why Should You Prefer a Computer to Design Your Cross Stitch Pattern?

Designing a cross stitch pattern on your computer gives you many more benefits.

1. Designing the Borders

It’s easier and quicker to design borders of your design using a computer than using hands. You can use the copy-paste option, which is much faster and quicker.

2. Filling the Blackwork Patterns

Designing a cross stitch pattern using a computer can fill in any shaped area with a click. Unlike hand-filling, which can take too long?

3. Adding Text to Your Cross Stitch Design

Adding text is more manageable with computer software designing. The program will help you center the words, unlike counting the squares to find the center.

4. View of Your Finished Cross Stitch Design

The pattern designing software will display your design to give an idea of the final look. The software will also approximate the size of thread you will need for the whole project.

5. Undo Button to Correct Mistakes

The computer gives you the option to undo a step to correct the mistake. It a great option because mistakes are inevitable most of the time.

So it’s even better as a beginner because you will make many mistakes as you learn.

Can We Turn a Complex Image Into a Cross Stitch Pattern?

Yes. You can use any image or photo to design a cross stitch pattern. Here you will need the photo, scanner, image editing program, and a cross-stitch program.

Scan the photo into your computer and use the image editing program to crop out the unwanted parts. Adjust the photo to the size of the pattern you want to stitch.

Also, adjust the brightness, color, and contrast to make it as transparent as possible. Open your photo in a cross-stitch program.

Select the colors and make adjustments until your pattern is satisfactory, then print.

How Do You Enlarge a Cross Stitch Pattern?

One method to increase the size of your cross stitch pattern is by changing the count of your fabric. If, for example, you were using a 14 count Aida fabric, use a smaller count with larger squares.

It will make your design look larger. When stitching on smaller count fabrics, it also means you adjust the number of threads you use.

If you were using two strands for the 14 count Aida, use four strands for eight counts Aida.

Another method is using the exact size of fabric count but double the number of stitches per square. For example, if you were stitching two stitches per square, make it four.


Hello, I am Jessica Flores, and you are welcome to my website. I am a professional fashion designer and a seamstress. I always carried a passion for craftwork. My love for craft grew along with time. I have spent years researching and practicing in this field to gather colossal experience.

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