How to cross stitch custom designs sans computer

October 30 | Guest post by TAnk

I bet I'm not the only Offbeat Homie who loves needlecraft with a passion that borders on the obsessive! Now you too can read all about my crazy methods for custom cross stitch designs.

I don't use fancy computer nonsense, by the by. This is partially because I'm lazy but also because sometimes I don't have a compy with me when I want to do these things. Also I find that I am way faster at designing these by hand than with a cross stitch design program like KG Chart.

One fine day, I decided that a friend of mine most definitely needed a cross stitch zombie for her birthday. Then I discovered that it's very difficult to find an elegant zombie cross stitch pattern.

So I decided to make My Very Own Custom Pattern and you can, too. Here's what I like to do:

First, supplies!

Here's where I found the original image.

Find an image you like (or start doodling). It's helpful if the lines on the image are relatively clean. Then I trace the lines I like onto the graph paper (with pencil!), orienting it however I please.

Here's where the brain power part comes in: you now have to decide how on earth you want to make all those strangely shaped lines happen with X's. This involves x-ing out the full, half, and maybe even quarter stitches you want to make the edge of your image. USE PENCIL FIRST. You will be much happier when you decide you didn't like that quarter stitch and want it to be a half stitch instead. Here is what my finished pattern looked like next to the original image. .

It's probably important to note here that the your design on 10×10 paper will stay approximately the same size if you stitch on 11 inch Aida cloth or equivalent. I did this design on the 10 inch paper and stitched on 14 inch Aida cloth the dimensions of the original design were about 5"x7" and the finished product was about 4"x6".

Now, STAND BACK. Take a look from farther away because you've probably gotten pretty up close and personal with that design by now. Stick it to a wall or magnet it to your fridge and look at it from farther away. Does it look the way you want? Great! Think you need to make that one line a little steeper? Fix it! Once you've got your design looking how you want, ink out the the edges in a way that makes sense to your brain. I personally ink around the outline of solid sections and don't actually x the individual squares because that way I can mark them off with a pen as I'm stitching (I very regularly don't have a highlighter). Do whatever makes sense for you!

And now the best part: START STITCHING!

This is what my finished piece looked like when I was all done…

Happy Stitching!

  1. I like your hand drawn method. It would be easier to figure out the exact lines and colors more so than a computer program.

    Also, the same idea can be applied to latch hooks. Recently, I made a Batman logo latch hook pillow from my own pattern and it turned out pretty awesome.

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  2. Thank you for this! I needed help figuring out how to make my own design for a tapestry crochet art piece I'm working on!

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  3. Yes! I do that too! I do use my high-tech printer to print out graph paper, because it has a button for that. And then I hand draw stuff. I do a lot of words/verses with fancy borders.

    I started out trying to find an online thing to do them, but the only free ones I found would do about 3 words at a time, and then I had to copy them onto my graph paper anyways, so I just started doing things myself.

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  4. Damn! Now I totally want to get back into cross stitching! I haven't had the time in FOREVER!!! But I saw a pillow on Pinterest that says, "Living in Sin No More" Then the date. And I thought that would be PERFECT for an anniversary gift for my husband… which is in 12 days… AHHHH!

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    • You can totally do it! I did 80% of the Zombie one above while having a Dr. Who marathon. Hoops aida cloth, tapestry needles, and some embroidery thread are actually pretty inexpensive and a little bit of time goes a surprisingly long way with cross stitching. Imagine you have a tiny cheerleader: You can do it! Go get stitching! (and then post pictures because everyone loves pictures :D )

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