In 1994 when I started doing cross stitch, most of the available starter patterns were basic letters and numbers. Cute teddy bears or adorable pigs with back stitch and half stitches were typical patterns.
After doing a couple of cross stitch projects, I already got bored doing the available patterns so I decided to make my own custom patterns. My first cross stitch pattern was a cartoon character which I made with 20 colors.
My early works look amateurish since my current cross stitch patterns are designed from photos. Seeing the sample beside this paragraph, you may wonder how a complex cross stitch pattern is designed from photos.
There are a lot of professional cross stitch pattern makers out there. In my experience, these patterns have a tendency to come out looking flat.
Most of my clients want their grandkids, wedding or pet photos done in a conventional cross stitch pattern. Photos are sent to me via email or snail mail.
Always start with a great photo. Original blurry photos will also come out as blurry.
Designing Your Cross Stitch Pattern
Before designing your pattern make sure you have the answer to these questions:
- How many thread colors do you want?
- How big of a project do you plan to make?
- What size is your cloth count?
My final patterns don’t use back stitch or half stitch or 1/4 stitch, just pure cross stitch. First readjust the photos before making the preliminary pattern.
Next step is to check how many DMC colors you want.
Why DMC colors?
Because DMC has the greatest number of color shades versus the other brands. I have a complete DMC thread collection to choose my colors.
Next compute the final cross stitch pattern size. If you want a 15 x 20 photo, then you compute it by the cloth count. For example, a 14 count cloth is multiplied by 20 inches then you will get 280 squares to reach the 20 inch mark.
Producing Your Final Cross Stitch Pattern
Sometimes the finished pattern comes out as very dark or very light, so the pattern is adjusted again. Since I have been doing cross stitch for a long time, I can detect whether I still need to tweak the final pattern or not.
When you have a final decision on the color shades used in the pattern, either save the pattern in JPG or PDF. Processing may take from 5 hours to a couple of days, depending on the original photo or JPG.
A vast majority of these files are sent via email. Why do I prefer sending these patterns as a whole digital file and not printed out? The reason is very simple . . . a majority of my clients either lose some of the pages or make a mistake in crossing out finished boxes.
This gives them the security that their patterns are also saved in their respective email accounts. They, also, have the option of having their patterns printed out in bigger fonts. Not all of us have 20-20 vision.
Once you have finished your first custom photo cross stitch project, you will never want to return to mass produced patterns. Any photo can become a work of art.