Cross stitching is easy and fun, but have you ever wished that you could embroider your own patterns? The good news is that designing patterns for cross stitching is not difficult at all! To help you get started, I prepared some FREE templates for designing your own cross stitch patterns (the download links are included in the instructions below). Designing and making you own cross stitch art is a great craft project for children as well as for grown-ups.
When cross stitching, most people use Aida fabric as the base of their project. Aida fabric is made with a grid pattern which makes it easy to keep your stitches even and lined up. I usually work with Aida fabrics that are either 11-count or 14-count, which means that they have either 11 and 14 squares per inch (1 inch = 2.5 cm). There are other fabric counts to make larger or smaller cross stitches; the higher the fabric count, the smaller each of your stitches. Basically, stitching on a higher count fabric means that your embroidery will be more intricate, but also more difficult and time-consuming to make. The free cross stitch pattern templates that I created are for either 11-count or 14-count Aida fabric.
To give you an idea of which fabric count may be appropriate for your child, my daughter used 11-count Aida fabric when she made this flower embroidery at age 9. It was her first cross stitch project, but she had worked with needles and thread before. In other words, it really depends on the child and how familiar they are with needlework. If you prefer to use cloth with larger squares (i.e. a smaller fabric count), please feel free to enlarge one of my templates when printing it. For example, you can enlarge the 11-count Aida template by 183% to make a 6-count Aida fabric template.
Designing Your Cross Stitch Pattern
Materials and tools that you need to create your own cross stitch pattern are:
- Muumade’s Free Cross Stitch Pattern Template: 11-count Aida or 14-count Aida;
- A pencil;
- An eraser;
- A pen in a color that can easily be seen over the grid of the template;
- Colored pencils.
1. Print out Muumade’s Free Cross Stitch Pattern Template:
11 count Aida (US Letter size):
11 count Aida (A4 size):
14 count Aida (US Letter size):
14 count Aida (A4 size):
2. With a pencil, draw your design in the center of Muumade’s Free Cross Stitch Pattern Template that you printed.
☝️Please keep in mind that the simpler the design, the easier it will be to embroider it.
3. With a pen, and using your pencil drawing as a guide, recreate your design with lines that coincide with the grid lines.
You pattern needs to match the grid because cross stitching uses the squares of the cloth to create patterns. When in doubt regarding which grid lines to use, I recommend that you choose the grid lines that are closest to your pencil lines.
After making sure that the ink is dry (especially if you used a gel pen!), erase the pencil lines.
4. Lastly, add color to your pattern. Color in the squares within the design that you made in the previous step. (Note: If you use two colors, which are similar to one another, you can assign a symbol, such as X or △, to each color and mark the squares accordingly.)
As you color in your pattern, mark one square on the Legend with each color you use. The legend will be helpful later when you select embroidery thread for your project.
Finished! You have created your own original cross stitch pattern!
I hope you agree that designing your own cross stitch pattern was very easy! However, if you prefer, you can also trace an existing design next time. Or, you can create your pattern digitally by using a computer and a spreadsheet program (such as Microsoft Excel) instead of drawing it by hand.
Now you are ready to start with your needlework!
Cross Stitch Embroidery
Materials and tools that you will need for cross stitch embroidery are:
- Your original cross stitch pattern;
- Aida fabric with fabric count that matches that of your pattern, approximately 20 cm (8″) x 20 cm (8″) if the template was printed at 100% in scale;
- Masking tape;
- An embroidery hoop, approximately 12.5 cm (5″) in diameter;
- A Tapestry needle, of an appropriate size for your fabric;
- A pair of scissors; and
- Embroidery thread in colors which match your pattern.
- Select embroidery thread in colors that best match those in your pattern. Each color comes with a unique name and number. Write down the names and numbers in the Legend next to the symbols that you used in the pattern. (This will help you keep track of which thread to use while stitching.)
2. Cover the four edges of the fabric with masking tape; this is to prevent the fabric from fraying while you are stitching.
Then, place the center your fabric in an embroidery hoop. (Here is a helpful link that explains how to do so properly.)
3. Determine the center of your pattern. The center of my pattern is marked in green in the image.
Thread a tapestry needle with 1 strand of embroidery thread in the color of the central square of your pattern. In my case, it is blue.
Double thread the needle (i.e. pull the thread through the needle and fold it in half, with the two ends lined up), but do not make an end knot.
4. Insert the needle from the reverse side of the fabric, at the center of the hoop, and start cross stitching!
🧵 Here’s a helpful beginner’s guide to cross stitch, which shows you to how to start and end cross stitching.
5. Once you have finished cross stitching your original pattern, study your needlework to see if you like it as is or if you want to add something to it.
For example, as you can see in the image below, I decided to add upper and lower fins to my fish!
Now that you know how to create your own cross stitch patterns, you can cross stitch anything you wish without having to look for ready-made patterns!
👉 Please remember that it is important to wash your cross stitch gently once it is finished! Washing your needlework will remove dirt from the fabric and thus prevent discoloration in the future.
When finished, you can frame your cross stitch, make a card with it, insert it into a photo keyring (if your work is small enough), or whatever else you wish to do to enjoy your creation! Here are some more ideas for things you can do with your needlework.
If you decide to share your creations on social media, I’d appreciate it if you tagged me (@muumade) in your post(s).
Below are a few other craft projects that may interest you: