How to Make Counted Cross-Stitch Patterns

    by Deborah H. Schreiben

    About the Author

    Deborah H. Schreiben is a freelance writer and an editor with more than 15 years experience in the field of journalism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Almeda University. Her writing has appeared on various online sites and in Midwest newspapers.


    When doing counted cross-stitch, you aren’t limited to patterns that manufacturers offer -- you can also make your own. Graph paper is a natural fit for creating cross-stitch patterns by hand because it mimics the look of Aida cloth, the grid-like fabric most commonly used for cross-stitching.

    Things You'll Need

    • Sketch paper
    • Graph paper
    • Colored pencils

    Draw your design on sketch paper. This gives you a picture to refer to when you make your design on graph paper, and it's your chance to fiddle with the design and get it just right.
    If you plan to use words as part of your design, write them in block printing. Script writing is hard to read when the curves of the letters are transferred to block shapes on graph paper.

    Using a light hand and colored pencils, copy the outline of your design onto the graph paper.

    Make "X"s over the lines you drew in the previous step, switching pencils as necessary to match the colors you want in your final design. Each "X" denotes a complete cross-stitch. When a line curves and crosses over only part of a box you have the option of filling the box in completely, leaving it blank or making a half-stitch to create an angled line. If you opt for the angled line, make a crosshatch mark to denote the half stitch.

    Fill in the outlined areas with more "X"s, drawn in whatever color matches the colors you want to see in that part of the finished design.

    Draw lines along the edges of any shapes that you want to outline with backstitching in the finished product. You don't have to do any outlining, but it's useful for distinguishing overlapping shapes or adding a sense of sharpness to shapes set against the blank cloth background.

    Determine which size Aida cloth you will use to create your design in the appropriate finished size. Aida cloth is sized by squares per inch. For example, 11-count Aida cloth has 11 squares per inch. The most common sizes are 6-, 8-, 11-, 14-, 16- and 18-count. Count the number of filled-in squares on the longest line of your design and include any empty squares you want to border your design.
    Divide the total number of stitches by the various Aida cloth thread counts to calculate the finished size you'd get with that cloth. For example: If the longest line of your design is 55 squares, using 11-count Aida cloth with give you a finished size of 5 inches. Using 8-count Aida cloth for the same design would give you a finished size of almost 7 inches.

    • If you'd like to render a graphic you found online in cross-stitch, you can print it directly onto the graph paper instead of drawing it by hand.