Custom Cross Stitch Pattern for a Christmas Stocking

On the weekends, I design things for my own family. You’ve probably seen the CD labels I’ve made for my kids’ birthdays.

My mother taught me how to sew, and to do counted cross stitch. She designed and made Christmas stockings for most of her children using this craft form. My wife and I have adopted this tradition as well, and we just finished one daughter’s stocking just in time for this past Christmas (I’m talking, like, ON Christmas Eve). Fresh from that experience and with all the learning that came with it, what better time to leap right into the next stocking? Designing and converting the art into a custom cross stitch pattern was a multi-step process, and a lot of fun. Let me show you:

Abigail-xmas-stocking-mockupWe started with a somewhat specific idea of the art and layout. Just to be quick about it, I grabbed some images from the Internet and did a mockup, using a hand-sketched puppy:

Next, I traced this image, simplifying it and smoothing out where the rough mockup images were in different styles. We had decided to change the puppy a bit, so at this point I had the opportunity to change that element. I made several alterations on paper in pencil.

Once I had the line art the way we wanted it, I traced the lines I wanted to keep with a fine-point black marker, then erased all of the pencil lines for a nice clean piece of art. This is one of my FAVORITE processes! I’ve always loved it…the touching of the paper, the steadiness of my hand, the warmth and smell of the rubber eraser, the cleanliness of the resulting art. Then I scanned the hand-trace back into the computer and colored it in Photoshop.

Finally, time to convert it to a cross-stitch pattern! In the past, I’ve used a program that I paid for, which worked rather well, but was a bit pricey and which I no longer have. So this time I explored some free online options. Of course, you get what you pay for: many of them were restrictive about the size of the pattern (we make these stockings BIG!) and had narrow options. After generating a few terrible-quality patterns, I happened upon, where I was able to upload a large file, specify the size of the pattern I wanted, the brand of thread/color, how the pattern was displayed (colors only, symbols only, colors and symbols, etc). I could even save and print it, which is of course what I wanted. I had a little trouble with the printing aspect since the actual-size is about 20 inches, but eventually I got it to print out on several sheets of paper, which I then cut and taped together to make a full-size pattern that my wife and I can use to stitch this project over the coming year:

Thanks for taking a look! I’ll updated this post with images of the completed stocking…hopefully later this year!

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