How to Read a Cross-Stitch Pattern

Before starting to cross-stitch, you need to have the cross-stitch pattern to follow at hand. At first look, all these squares and symbols might feel confusing, but it is very simple to read a pattern.

Your pattern will consist of two parts: the actual pattern in itself and the legend.

The Cross-Stitch Pattern

The pattern is usually a grid of small squares just like your fabric. Each square represents a single stitch. The number of squares in the pattern will give you an ideas as to the size of fabric you will need for your project.

Here is an example of a pattern I created using Stitch Fiddle. It’s a simple six colors pattern in an 11×11 grid. In this case, we have one stitch in red, surrounded by eight stitches in orange and so on.

A pattern is also very helpful since it will show you where to use the same color thread in order to avoid switching colors every few stitches. For example, you can see that the first line will need 11 stitches with the color purple. So no need to keep looking back and forth at your pattern after every stitch. Now you see where the word counted comes from?

The Pattern’s Legend

Now the pattern will provide you with the blueprint, but to understand it correctly we need the legend. The legend will show you the corresponding thread color to use for each square.

Here’s that same pattern now with the corresponding legend. In this example, I chose DMC colors. So, for the red stitch, we will need #606, for the orange #741 and so on.

All you need to do now is to get the corresponding colors and follow the pattern square by square.

By the way, feel free to use the above pattern to practice!

Sometimes, the pattern will include symbols instead of colors. Don’t worry! As you can see, the legend will also include those symbols as well. This is a project’s pattern I’m currently working on with symbols instead of colors. So the same concept applies.

Note: Patterns sometimes also include the different types of stitches to be used. Make sure you know how to the necessary stitches before starting to work on it.

Now go get yourself a pattern and start stitching!

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