Thread Bare

Cross-stitching and needlework

The Problem with Cross-Stitch Pattern Previews

What you see may not be what you get

Whatever size or style of cross-stitch pattern you do, it represents a cost in the form of equipment, material and threads as well as time and effort. For smaller samplers it’s usually very clear what the final piece will look like so there is little chance of surprises and often the promotional image may be of an already completed piece.

matt and hilary's wedding sampler (detail)

samplers rarely look different to their previews so aren’t an issue

As we move toward larger, full-coverage patterns though this becomes a little impractical. It often takes just minutes for an operator to create a cross-stitch pattern from a photo or artwork image but that pattern could take years to actually stitch. It wouldn’t be practical or cost effective to expect every pattern to be stitched before it was sold, so instead we have to rely on the mockup or preview image to see what the final result looks like.

Unfortunately, these can sometimes be misleading usually showing a “better” result than you will actually get which is disappointing considering you may spend $ hundreds on materials and years working on them. A cross stitch pattern isn’t like a jigsaw where an original photo on the box is appropriate.

Shouldn’t pattern previews be WYSIWYG - What You See Is What You Get?

pattern technical

why some pattern mockups are inaccurate

Lost Your Stitching Bug? Ways To Get Re-inspired

Rekindle your love of cross-stitching

Oh no your stitching bug has decided it needs a vacation! It happens to all of us from time to time for various reasons, small kids to look after which tire you out and don’t allow much “me” time, boredom or frustration with your current project, depression, illness or simply life getting in the way so you don’t have the time.

peace out ant

It can be quite frustrating to be making good progress and then suddenly lose interest in a project, especially if you are working on something with a deadline and you just cannot motivate yourself to work on it.

Here we will offer some tips to try and reignite your interest in your projects…

find ways to get your creative juices flowing again

My Stitching Journey - Gallery of Finishes, the Early Years!

Well, the ones I actually finished anyway ...

I have been stitching since I was about 16. I don’t seem to have my very first cross-stitch piece anymore maybe my parents do, but it was one of those free gifts you get with cross-stitching magazines, a little kit of a duck and I don’t think I finished the back-stitching, starting as I meant to go on! This article will show some of my early cross-stitching and finishes from purchased kits, I’ve included details where I could but some a very old and I can’t remember the brands or names…


finished pieces I've stitched over the years

Creating Cross-Stitch Charts with Consistent Colors

Why is it so difficult?


What color is that thread? Is it the exact color you need in your pattern?

Doesn’t that sound like such a simple question?

What may surprise you is that a craft that is so totally dependent on color doesn’t really have many clear answers. To show how much things can vary, I looked at how different apps, stores and websites represent the thread 3746 shown above:


Quite a difference eh? And that’s just one thread of hundreds. BTW: If you’re thinking you can match up the best one based on the photo above then read on, it’s not that simple …

dmc threads technical

the challenge of capturing and communicating color

Computer Image File Formats for Cross-Stitchers

which file format is the right one to use

Whether it’s choosing which format to use when importing photos from your camera, downloading images from the internet or saving a picture from and editing program, you may be given the choice between what can easily seem like a bewildering list of options.

BMP, GIF, PNG, JPG, WEBP, PDF, PSD, RAW, TIFF & more - why so many? Don’t they all do the same thing and just let us save a picture? Well, they all have their strengths and weaknesses and some are more or less suitable to use than others in different situations.

technical patterns

find out which image format to chose and why

Cross-Stitch Chart Design How-To Tutorial Videos

Hints and tips for creating cross-stitch patterns

We’ve made a number of videos that you may find useful to show some of the options available in our app to convert images to cross-stitch charts plus some general hints and tips around color selection, dithering and correcting photo exposure.

Let us know if there is a tutorial you’d like to see us to cover in any future videos!


see the complete video tutorial list

Tutorial - How to Make a Needle Threader

Make threading needles easier with a custom tool

Time for something a little different. If you do any form of needlework then you’re going to be threading needles … a lot. So it makes sense to use a tool to make it quicker and easier. There are lots of needle threaders available to buy, some very simple and purely practical and others more decorative. As part of the appeal of crafting is making something yourself we thought we’d provide a short tutorial on how to make your very own custom needle threaders …

needle threaders

Some needle threaders I’ve made

tools tutorial

Learn how to make your own needle threader

Cross-Stitching Legalities: Copyright, Artwork Licensing and Copying

Thoughts on the legalities around cross-stitching

You see an amazing picture and think “wow, that would look fantastic on my wall !”. Can you just take it?

You’re probably thinking about something on a webpage, don’t. Imagine instead it’s a framed print in a Crate and Barrel store.

Of course you wouldn’t try to steal it and most people recognize that this would clearly be theft. But while you would be stealing a frame and the print, the most valuable part of the picture is very often the image itself. That is the thing that an artist or photographer worked to produce and it’s not just yours to take.

The fact that the image is for sale in a store, gallery or on a webpage doesn’t make it any more legal to take without permission. The web version may offer little protection to prevent it, but to suggest that made it “OK” would be akin to claiming that a store assistant who left the door open and took a break gave you permission to steal.

copyright stamp


read more about the rights and wrongs of copying images

Anti-Aliasing For Better Looking Cross-Stitch Charts

Just drawing a straight line isn't as simple as it sounds

Anti-what-now? We’ve talked before about size, color, sharpening and dithering for custom cross-stitch chart-design and also some of the “secrets” behind the chart-making process. Now we’re going to talk about another image processing-related feature that affects the quality of charts, something called “anti-aliasing”.

Most computers now have displays made up of individual pixels arranged in a grid to produce “raster images” - literally, a grid of dots. That wasn’t always the case though - if you’re old enough to remember the original Asteroids arcade game, that had a “vector image” display which could draw smooth lines in any direction, used to draw the rocks that glided across the screen and smashed your little spaceship to pieces so you had to put another 10p in the slot.

Nowadays, your computer will almost certainly have some form of LCD display and the only mention of vector images refers to the format of the image file - to display something on the screen it’s always converted to the grid of pixels.

pattern chart stitch-maker chart-design pattern-maker

the problem with pixels and how anti-aliasing works

New Online Cross-Stitch Chart Maker!

Convert photos to patterns quickly and easily

If there was one single thing that probably has the biggest impact on the quality of your final completed piece, it has to be the chart that you work from. If you’re buying a pre-made pattern then you should expect it to meet a certain level of quality. But what if you want a unique personal piece? You’re never going to find a ready-made pattern for your own parent, child, grandchild or loved family pet.

This is where custom-chart making comes in and we’re proud to announce our new online cross-stitch chart maker that will help you create great looking custom made cross-stitch patterns quickly and easily.

pattern-maker screenshot

pattern chart stitch-maker chart-design pattern-maker

Why we built it and how to use it ...