How to read a cross stitch pattern

How to read a cross stitch pattern

Cross stitch charts tell you everything you need to know about a cross stitch pattern. Learn how to read them and understand the basic elements of a cross stitch chart in this post.

Charts are grids

Cross stitch designs are traditionally depicted as a series of squares laid out on a grid. Each square on the grid corresponds to a single stitch. Like the grid paper you might be familiar with from math class, darker lines are drawn in 10-by-10 square sections to make reading the chart and keeping your place easier. Line numbers along the top and side are also used to help keep your place.

what line numbers and arrows mean on a cross stitch chart

When working on a cross stitch design, it can be good practice to start stitching in the middle of the pattern. Arrows at the top and side of the chart indicate the center points. For smaller patterns, it is easy enough to trace with your fingers to find the center, but for larger patterns you may wish to use a ruler and pen or pencil.

how to find the center point on a cross stitch pattern

When reading a cross stitch chart, you can hold it rightside up or upside down while orienting your fabric the same way. Don't turn the pattern or your fabric 90 degrees or your stitches will end up crossing in the wrong direction.

Legend and symbols

Each cross stitch chart has a legend that shows what color thread to use. In a full-color chart, the different threads are commonly depicted by a color block and a symbol. In black and white printings, they may be depicted by a symbol only. Match the color block and/or symbol in the legend to find out what color thread to use.

what symbols and colors mean on a cross stitch pattern

The legend may also offer thread substitutions for those who wish to stitch with a different thread brand.

Blocks and/or symbols that take up a full grid square indicated full cross stitches. Back stitches are indicated by lines on the chart, and French knots are often depicted by round dots.

Pattern notes

Professionally-produced charts often include other helpful information such as recommended fabric color and count. It will list the stitch dimension, that is, the number of stitches wide by the number of stitches high, along with finished size when stitched on various fabric counts. (For more on fabric count, see What does fabric count mean in cross stitch?)

Notes in the pattern may also tell you how many strands of floss to use with the various stitches in the design.

And don't forget the copyright, which is an essential part of most charts. Copyright means you cannot make copies of the chart and share them with your friends or sell them. Cross stitch desginers deserve to be compensated for their artistic creations. Following copyright guidelines ensures the future of this craft we love so much.

how to read a cross stitch pattern chart

The chart in this blog post is free for personal use. You can download a copy here. If you stitch it up, share a photo on social media and tag it with #stitchedmodern so we can see!

15 comments

Write a comment
Randy Barnhart

Randy Barnhart

When instructions say to begin in the middle of the pattern, does that mean the exact center or the line of stitches, going from left to right, that cross the center? That is, do I start at the left edge of the center of the pattern? Thanks. Randy

liz tsukashima

liz tsukashima

I have a Dimensions no count/cross stitch Stitcher’s Still Life, and it calls for stitches I’ve never heard of. The stitches are Fly Stitch, Turkey Work, Satin stitch and the Stem Stitch. Where can I find these? I need help, Ihave 4 different cross stitch manuals and numerous kit but these stitches aren’t mentioned in any of these. Help!!!!!

Khur

Khur

I am doing Two is company. For one square on the chart they use two different symbols for each square. It is not one strand of each color as some symbol has 2 color each. What should I do.?

Kathie

Kathie

I am doing Bobbie G Designs Laundry. For one square on the chart they use two different symbols for each square. It is not one strand of each color as they describe that instruction using another symbol. What do I do.?

Mrs Elizabeth Hodgkins

Mrs Elizabeth Hodgkins

I have a DMC kit – ‘Paris in the Rain’. The stitch chart has 2 different skein numbers against the symbol in several cases and I don’t understand it. Can you help?

Norma

Norma

I need help finding out the stitch needed on a cross stitch embroidery printed on pattern.
It has got numbers1-22 straight down the outside edge with coloured shapes, I presume that these are the stitch required, but there is no mention of how much thread I need to use, apparently when I contacted the seller for instructions she just came back with a discount no\ instructions.
I have never done embroidery before so with me having to stay indoors for another 12 weeks as I am classed as a vulnerable person I just thought that with it saying cross stitch Then that was all iI had to do, but obviously not

Norma

Norma

I need help finding out the stitch needed on a cross stitch embroidery printed on pattern.
It has got numbers1-22 straight down the outside edge with coloured shapes,

Norma

Norma

I need help finding out the stitch needed

cindy kubushefski

cindy kubushefski

i have the Janlynn #1134-30 EEyore and Butterflies birth announcement instruction sheet and everything that came with the kit that I purchased years ago and now would like to do but I need to see a chart of what the symbols look like when done and how to do it.

I need help with recognizing symbols with stitches

I need help with recognizing symbols with stitches

It’s been a long time. I want to get back into embroidering. Please give me the stitches for the symbols. Thank you

Lara

Lara

does full stitch mean using 6 strands ?

La Veta Reid

La Veta Reid

Disregard previous comment. I finally found the answer. It refers to the number of strands to use.

La Veta Reid

La Veta Reid

I am looking at a Pennsylvania Barn cross stitch pattern and for the thread selections they will say med (1X) beside the color. What does the 1X, 2X, or 3X mean?

Pat Peterson

Pat Peterson

What is Taping around the edges do?
and what kind of tape?

Beatriz gonzalez

Beatriz gonzalez

Me encantan sus trabajos

Write a comment

Comments are moderated