How to Make a Pattern pt 1

This is one of the most common questions I see on the internet, and often the answer I give winds up not being the answer the person wanted.  The question is so vague, that when answering it, I have to kind of guess what I think they mean based off context.  And more often than not, I get it wrong because the person asking the question simply didn’t know how to ask it.

And that’s understandable, considering the amount of vocab and terms involved.  So I’m going to cover every facet of this question in a few different posts.

Making a Pattern

As with all forms of art, there is no magical “make pattern” button.  A lot of the time, people ask how to make a pattern before they even know what they want to do.  Having the idea is half the work.  If you don’t know what you want the pattern to be, unfortunately, nobody can help you.  If you want to know how to come up with ideas, simply look around you.  Find a quote you like, or a picture you won’t get sick of looking at.  Make sure it’s something you probably won’t hate the look before you’re done.

Got that?  Now let’s look at how you make a pattern.

There are many ways you can make your pattern.  Some methods suit certain projects more than others, while other methods are universal.  Let’s take a look at the most common methods.

Grid Paper

Get yourself some grid paper and a small selection of markers or coloured pencils.  This works best for simple designs and lettering.  If you get too many colours on your grid, you run the risk of confusing similar colours once you start stitching.  Simply map out your design, treating each square of the grid as a single stitch.  If you want to include special stitches, you can draw those onto the page as well.  This method can be the hardest to fix, especially if you’re using markers to design your pattern, so be careful.  A mistake can mean having to start over.

Art Software

This is the high-tech version of grid paper, and uses the same technique of treating each individual pixel as one stitch.  You can fix mistakes far more easily, but at the cost of losing special stitches.  MSPaint and Paint.NET are probably your best bets, as they’re free.  Both art software and grid paper are best for simple designs and lettering.

Online Converters

Online converters require you to already have an image that you’d like to stitch.  These work for both simple designs and full-coverage, so any image you have can be converted.  However, in most cases, you get what you get, and don’t have much control over the pattern that comes out.

Some free converters include:

You can find more by Googling “free cross stitch pattern maker”.

Cross Stitch Software

Cross stitch software is the most versatile of all of the methods, allowing you to create any sort of design with the most control possible.  You can use as many colours as you want, include special stitches, and aren’t limited to the size of your sheet of paper.  When printing, you can also usually change the output grid size, either to include more stitches per page, or to make each stitch bigger and easier to read.

Common cross stitch software includes:

Googling “cross stitch software” and your specific operating system will get you more results.

These are just the most common options for each method.  If you don’t like any of the options here, there are plenty more available out there.  Take the time to look around and find the method that works best for you.

Now let’s move on to part two: Lettering Charts.