How to design your own cross stitch pattern

Cross Stitch Flowers

Cross stitched flowers


What you will need:

  • a picture to convert to cross stitch
  • tracing graph paper
  • markers or coloured pencils
  • a floss shade card

handpainted vintage postcard

Original image (handpainted vintage postcard)

1. Choose a tracing graph paper which correspond in size to the fabric count you will use (the higher the count, the more detailed your design will be). You can download and print it here for free.

How To Design Your Own Cross Stitch Pattern

2. Lay the tracing graph paper over the image you would like to convert and redraw the image by colouring the grid squares.

How To Design Your Own Cross Stitch Pattern - 1

3. Add backstitch lines, french knots or beads.

How To Design Your Own Cross Stitch Pattern - 2

4. Use a shade card to match thread colours and make a simple chart key with thread numbers.

How To Design Your Own Cross Stitch Pattern - 3

5. Now you can stitch your design!

How To Design Your Own Cross Stitch Pattern - 4

Needlebook stitched on 32 count cream linen


Free cross stitch pattern by Ajisai Press


… Digital Delivery …


Blank cross stitch gridsBLANK CROSS STITCH GRIDS

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Blank cross stitch grids / Grilles vierges pour point de croix / Griglie vergini per punto croce

Product type: free printable PDF file / fichier PDF gratuit à imprimer / file PDF gratuito da stampare


This PDF contains 4 printable blank grids:

  • 11 count Aida
  • 14 count Aida and 28 count linen
  • 16 count Aida and 32 count linen
  • 18 count Aida and 36 count linen

You can print these grids on A4 white paper or tracing paper.
For best results, remember to set the print scale to 100%.

Ce PDF contient 4 grilles vierges à imprimer:

  • Aïda 4,4 points/cm
  • Aïda 5,5 points/cm et lin 11 fils/cm
  • Aïda 6,4 points/cm et lin 12,5 fils/cm
  • Aïda 7,2 points/cm et lin 14 fils/cm

Vous pouvez imprimer ces grilles sur papier blanc ou papier calque, en format A4.
Assurez-vous d’imprimer à 100%.

Questo PDF contiene 4 griglie vuote stampabili:

  • tela Aida 44
  • tela Aida 55 e lino 11 fili
  • tela Aida 64 e lino 12/13 fili
  • tela Aida 72 e lino 14 fili

Potete stampare queste griglie su carta bianca o carta da lucido in formato A4.
Per ottenere le dimensioni corrette, è necessario impostare la stampa al 100%.

30 thoughts on “How to design your own cross stitch pattern

  1. Pingback: stitch kit- tracing design on the aida cloth - IndusLadies

  2. Lailamoharram

    I have a question please help. The colour used to draw on fabric is oil or water or any pencils or what

    1. Valentina Sardu Post author

      In cross stitch, the pattern is generally drawn on a graph paper, not on the fabric: each square represents one stitch and you have to count the threads of the linen to know where to put the design. Anyway, a water soluble pen can be helpful to mark some guidelines on the fabric before stitching (the two central lines or the whole grid).

      1. siahchoi

        I just found this site through Pinterest :)

        What brand of pens would you recommend? And where can you get the shade for a cheap price?

  3. LeAnn Jardine

    Thank you so much for these directions. I have been wondering how to go about making a photo into a cross stich. This will help me more than you know!

  4. Tiffany Freeman

    I came across your page while trying to find something cross-stitch worthy for an installation I am doing featuring literature memorialized in cross-stitch. Would you consider converting your prints to a cross-stitch pattern or allowing me permission to do so (no for resale/reproduction – exclusively for the installation)? Thank you for your time. Beautiful work!


  5. Lynn Halliday

    Thank you so much for this, I didn’t even know you could get tracing graph paper. My Mum always said you learn something new everyday and I think that’s true.


  6. Laurence

    Merci beaucoup pour ces grilles gratuites et ces explications ! J’aime beaucoup vos créations également !
    Have a nice day !

  7. Sam Herbert

    I am so appreciative of your post. It will be amazingly useful! I would add just one more step. I would make a full-color photocopy of the original piece, for a couple of reasons. By doing that you could change the scale more readily; it would also help to preserve the original source from damage.

  8. Kathleen Muna Othman

    it is quite difficult to buy tracing graph paper. Could you please tell me where I can get it from. Thank you for the information on doing your own patterns.

    Take care and thank you once again.

    Kathleen from London.

  9. Dani

    Thank you so much I have had a terrible time trying to do a copy on just tracing paper no graph and the trying to transfer to a graph paper……this is an answer to a prayer ❤️

  10. jasty

    hi well i ve been searching for almost week for some easy cross stitch pattern for beginners like me specially friend is a huge fan of the t.v series supernatural [dean , sam and castiel ] and her birthday is next week so i decided to create a gift for her a supernatural inspired cross stitch can you help me??..but im more specifically talking about is there any chance that you can give me a cross stitch pattern of supernatural?? pls..thanks

  11. Melody

    I have the graph printed on plastic 9bought it that way) once I get everything lined up the way I want it, I photo copy it. I can then do adjusting, coloring etc on paper.

  12. Christin

    This is wonderful! Thank you for your instructions. What I’d really love to know is how you created a digital version of your hand drawn pattern? (As seen in your ‘free chart’ image).

      1. Christin

        Hi Valentina, thanks for your quick reply! I’ve been researching and looking into getting a cross stitch program for myself. Yours looks like it creates a very clean and easy to read pattern. Would you be willing to tell me what program you use?
        Thanks :)

        1. Valentina Sardu Post author

          There are a lot of good programs (e.g. PcStitch or MacStitch), but I never use the automatic conversion option. I prefer to manually draw the design using the drawing tools in the software. This is why the final pattern is so clean ;-)

  13. Nori

    Hi! After you got all the designs sorted out, and before you start the stitching, do you have any tips on doing the stitch with the correct arrangements? Like, did you use pencil/soluble pen (that you mentioned in the comment above) to make sure the correct design is stitched at the correct box? I did not use any pencil or any markings on the fabric, which would led me to stitch at the wrong side of the fabric. Do you have any tips for me? Thanks a lot!

    1. Valentina Sardu Post author

      Hi Nori! Personally, I don’t like to mark the fabric with pencils or soluble pens. Sometimes I place some pins: one in the center when I start stitching, and others if there are big white spaces between motifs.

  14. Kerry

    Are there copyright issues we should be aware of re. reproducing in some form an image made by someone else? Should we be contacting that person or company to obtain permission to reproduce that image? Or, is the image/form we create for cross stitch or embroidery just different enough that that is not an issue, like it’s not considered “reproducing” it? I have several images that I’d like to convert to cross stitch patterns, but haven’t started to – your tutorial (and free grids!!!) will help me tremendously with doing so! Also, I wanted to be sure I wasn’t overstepping any copyright holder’s rights. Thanks!

    1. Ajisai Press

      You can freely use images in the public domain or under a Creative Commons license that allows derivative works. For all other images, you need to obtain the permission from the author.

  15. melody Jordan

    instead of coloring the squares, I tape it in place and make a color photo copy. I tried doing the coloring but never had the right pens or pencils


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