Craftfilter: resources for beautiful cross-stitch designs?
March 25, 2017 7:55 AM   Subscribe

I recently got (back) into cross-stitch and made a small sampler in a single color. It looks great and I want to keep going! Can anyone recommend books, websites, blogs, designers, etc that I can browse to find cool patterns?

I am specifically into counted cross-stitch because I don't want to freehand anything or deal with transferring patterns to fabric. I'm looking for patterns, not kits (I can buy the thread and materials myself) and would probably be working on Aida cloth or linen, making things I can frame for my own house or to give as gifts. Accessories or household items would be cool too.

I am interested in:
* abstract / geometric designs and lettering
* florals
* heritage / vintage patterns like samplers
* landscapes or buildings as long as they don't stray into Thomas Kinkade-style "quaint cottage" territory
* Christmas! (in a secular way)

I am not so interested in:
* animals
* Americana / folksy / whimsical stuff
* irreverent sayings with swear words
* anything branded (Disney, Harry Potter)

I've been browsing Etsy, but it's a mixed bag. I know some of y'all do needlework, so I thought I would ask here! If there are designers out there doing beautiful work in the cross-stitch world, I would love to find them.

If it matters, I consider myself an intermediate-level crafter (have been sewing, knitting for years) and would definitely like to improve my cross-stitch skills, so I'm not afraid of larger and more involved patterns.
posted by cpatterson to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
I think the Feeling Stitchy blog is a good resource.
I also love Sarah Benning's Etsy Shop.
posted by shesbookish at 8:18 AM on March 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've done a few of SatsumaStreet's Pretty Little City series and enjoyed them - a bit cuter than I'd like architecturally but that's probably just my pedantry.
posted by carbide at 9:33 AM on March 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

For vintage/historic patterns, the Antique Pattern Library is a huge treasury. Free, downloadable PDF versions of old books and pamphlets.

Patternmaker Software offers its own digitizing software, but also has several free, downloadable vintage pattern pamphlets, mostly in French, German, and Russian. Lots of alphabets.

Dover Publications is still a great source of charted needlework designs. Many of these are taken from sources labeled "peasant" or "folk," but don't let that put you off. The trad stuff often features beautiful geometric designs. These books aren't very expensive. You may be able to find them in a local library.

Don't forget the likes of Google's image search. Entering "cross stitch chart" and any subject whatever will bring up an array of images in every taste (or lack of it, eh) you can imagine.
posted by Weftage at 10:53 AM on March 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I love counted cross stitch and other counted thread embroidery techniques. I also don't buy kits, with extremely rare exceptions. One way to get a feel for which designers are creating the kinds of designs you like is to go to 123Stitch and browse "cross stitch patterns by designer". You can do the same thing at ABC_Stitch_Therapy, I prefer the interface at 123stitch.

Like most hand/needle crafts, the popularity of cross stitch ebbs and flows. A lot of people really like Heaven and Earth Designs (HAED) - I find them too Thomas Kinkade-y for the most part. And I have trouble seeing the point in stitching a reproduction of some classic painting. I do not like cute.

Samplers have seen a huge resurgence in the last 10 years or so. There are lots of designers doing traditional, kind of folksy samplers, and some great designers who have taken the traditional sampler and made it modern, or done a completely modern take on samplers/abstract designs.

Some of my favorite designers:
Ink_Circles (Tracy Horner) does some gorgeous designs that bridge traditional and modern. Her website also has a good selection of free patterns, mostly celtic knots. I have her Cirque_des_Cercles pattern.

Long_Dog_Samplers is another favorite, especially if you like a challenge. href="">

Sweetheart_Tree is one I like for smaller designs and additional counted thread stitches to add interest.

For something a little different, I recommend Elizabeth Almond's Blackwork_Journey. She has a nice selection of free patterns also, and she is now doing her fourth stitch-along with free patterns. She is continually learning new techniques and incorporating them into the stitch-alongs.

When I find a designer I like, I usually search to see if they have a website. Another way to see the work of different designers is to look at the Christmas ornament issue of Just Cross Stitch (I get them through my library). Their ornament designs often give a glimpse of their general style.

If you want any more recommendations, MeMail me and I'll share more.
posted by Altomentis at 11:01 AM on March 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you're up for a major time commitment, Scarlet Quince has amazing patterns.
posted by orange swan at 12:02 PM on March 25, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I quite like Nordic Needle, which has patterns and supplies for cross-stitch, but also other kinds of counted-thread embroidery such as Hardanger and huck weaving. They have a bunch of samplers (patterns and kits) and books with classic sampler patterns.

(If you want to make housewares, I have enjoyed the shit out of huck weaving towels. It's super-easy for a counted cross stitcher to pick up, it goes quickly, and it works really well for pretty guest towels in the bathroom and tea towels for the kitchen.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:18 PM on March 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I am obsessed with Modern Folk cross stitch, which I think ticks some of your boxes.
posted by featherboa at 4:50 PM on March 25, 2017

Terrific suggestion Eyebrows. I have been doing a bunch of huck weaving (aka huck embroidery, swedish weaving, huckaback darning) lately. I picked up one of the kits at a variety store owned by one of my sister's friends and loved it.

In addition to huck towels, I've been doing some on aida and on Monk's Cloth. One of the great things about huck weaving vs. cross stitch is the instant gratification - I can do a tea towel in an evening and a large piece in a week or two. It takes me much longer to do a piece in cross stitch or blackwork or sashiko.

Also nthing Scarlet Quince. The designs are lovely and challenging and cover a broad spectrum. Threadneedle Street in Issaquah, WA has a very large tapestry stitched by the owner. It is impressive.

Thank you, featherboa, for pointing out Modern Folk's Etsy shop. I didn't know they were available there.
posted by Altomentis at 10:03 PM on March 25, 2017

Best answer: I've been working on an abstract Frank Lloyd Wright design from Heartland House--mine is a kit but the pattern alone can be purchased as well. They have a bunch of interesting abstract designs and non-cutesy buildings in their catalog, and I've been satisfied with the quality of the design I am using.
posted by tchemgrrl at 3:32 AM on March 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you like geometric, you might like bargello.
posted by gennessee at 5:01 AM on March 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

I recently bought a pattern from Artecy. They are in Australia and have a ton of patterns in a variety of sizes. They can send you the pattern via email and you print it yourself.
posted by jenjenc at 7:35 AM on March 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: All of the links posted so far are great. This is exactly what I have been looking for and can keep me going for a while! I appreciate them all because I understand taste is subjective, or, to put it another way, one woman's "folksy" is another woman's "heritage" ;)

Weftage, in my internet searching I actually never thought to put in the word "chart" instead of pattern, but of course they are charts, and that throws up a lot of good results!

Eyebrows, I had never heard of huck weaving and it looks like a great thing to pick up. I suspect my mom might be getting tea towels for Christmas...
posted by cpatterson at 1:16 PM on March 26, 2017

Wow, CTRL-F "pinterest" got nothing...

There are SO MANY charts on Pinterest. If you are having trouble with search terms or just don't find anything you like when you search cross stitch there, try things like "perler beads" or "needlepoint" -- both things done on square grids, so will work for cross-stitch. Knitting charts can also work, depending. There's a TON of stuff on there, though!
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:40 AM on March 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

There's heaps of free patterns on I particularly like the traditional European stuff (like Kalocsa embroidery) but you can find all kinds.
posted by orrnyereg at 2:46 PM on March 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I fell in love with Gerda Bengtsson's designs after coming across one of her books from the 1970s in a used bookstore in Boston. She was a Danish designer active in the 1940s through (I think) the 1980s who specialized in botanical designs based on Danish flora -- wildflowers, herbs, berries, grasses, etc -- and taught for decades in the Danish Handicraft Guild. You can find hundreds of examples of her work on Pinterest or through Google images and used copies of her books and pamphlets are available online. I especially like "Gerda Bengtsson's Book of Danish Stitchery" because in it she shows you how to create your own stylized counted cross-stitch patterns from images found in nature.
posted by 826628 at 6:07 AM on March 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

A lot of patterns on Pinterest might have copyright issues if that's important to you. Watch out for cheap Chinese knockoffs if you buy patterns or kits from Amazon or Ebay. If you are really up for a challenge, you could try a HAED design or one of the free charts on the site.
posted by cass at 11:20 AM on March 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

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