If you’re looking for a way to convert a photo or other image into a custom cross-stitch pattern the first thing to decide, is what software or service you’re going to use to do it.
It can seem like there are a bewildering number of different options available and it’s easy to run into the ‘paradox of choice’ where so many options make it difficult to pick one for fear of choosing the wrong one.
But don’t be put off - most really fall into just 3 main categories and we can show the pros and cons of each general approach in order to exclude some options before you try to focus on a specific product or service to use.
If you subscribe to the DMC newsletter or happened to visit their website recently you will have seen their announcement of a new “Snap & Stitch” image to pattern conversion service.
Like most online services it promises to convert your image into a custom chart with the added bonus that you can get the chart for free if you buy $5 of thread supplies. The normal pattern-only price is $10 USD with a special introductory price of $5 USD.
So how does it work and should you use it? We’ll try and provide an unbiased review and cover the similarities and differences with other online conversion services including our own.
We started this blog just 8 months ago in April this year initially as simply a place to share information about cross-stitching and as a resource for people to learn from. Since then it has quickly turned into a much bigger project than we ever imagined or originally envisaged with the design and launch of our online pattern maker to make it quick and easy to create your own high quality charts from your images at a reasonable price.
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.
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?
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…
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.
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.
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.
Happy Independence Day to all our American friends !
We are releasing this free chart to mark the occasion based on the image below:
In honor of Canada day 150 we are making a free chart available for download based on this wolf image
The same pattern is available in 3 different print sizes. These charts were created using the new thread-bare pattern making tool that we’re working on and hope to make available online very soon. If you stitch it, we’d love if you sent us images of your completed work!