When cross stitching started centuries ago, there were no patterns. Back in the day, when there were no printing presses yet to print patterns or charts to act as guides, people were already cross stitching. It was possible to cross stitch without a pattern before; you can still do it today.
You can use many modern tools these days that can help elevate the experience of doing this craft. Surely, going back to cross stitching without a pattern will be such a waste of time.
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Can you cross stitch without a pattern?
Yes, you can cross stitch without a pattern. You might be wondering how this is possible, in this period where cross stitch always comes with a printed chart as your guide.
These days, you will find three types of cross stitching; counted cross stitch, the stamped cross stitch, and freehand cross stitch.
- Counted Cross Stitch
- Stamped Cross Stitch
- Free Hand Cross Stitch
Counted cross stitch refers to the type where you follow a printed pattern or chart and stitch on a blank Aida fabric. It is called counted cross stitch because you have to count your stitches to know which part of the pattern you are working on.
With counted cross stitch, you can start with a pattern only and buy your other materials such as floss and fabric. Or you can look for patterns that come in a complete package. Most of the time, you will have more design choices if you start with just a pattern.
When the pattern is already printed on the fabric, this type of cross stitch is called stamped cross stitch. You simply stitch on the pattern printed on the fabric. Most stitchers say that the stamped cross stitch is ideal for just starting with cross stitch.
The stamped cross stitch comes in a package with all the materials you need in it. It comes with a pattern printed with the fabric. The next thing to do is to stitch.
Freehand cross stitch is just as the name suggests, doing your cross stitches on the fabric without a pattern. Some stitchers who are hit with inspiration and creative ideas can directly transfer them on the fabric using these tiny X stitches. This technique can be satisfying for creatives. But for those who follow patterns when making cross stitch pieces, it can be quite challenging.
Understanding how patterns came to be can explain how cross stitching was possible and can still be done without a pattern.
The oldest embroidered cloth containing cross stitch dates back to the 6th or 7th Centuries AD. But cross stitch grew in the 618 – 906 AD during the Tang Dynasty in China and may have spread to the western countries through the trade routes. Cross stitch was just one of the many stitches used in embroidery which people use to embellish household items. They mostly use floral and geometric designs back in the day.
Cross stitch became the main stitch in a piece of needlework due to samplers. Early cross stitchers would stitch samples of their favorite stitches and patterns on a little cloth. These small swatches of fabric became the first samplers.
Samplers were not made to be displayed but are usually rolled up and kept safe in a drawer. They are usually brought out as a guide or reference for the next cross stitch projects. Stitchers usually crammed samples of patterns and stitches into this narrow piece of cloth. Samplers were the nearest thing to patterns then.
Patterns started to get printed in the 16th century where they became more accessible because of the invention of printing. Cross stitch also evolved through time by having the pattern printed onto the fabric. The cross stitch with a printed pattern and samplers common today was revived in the 1960s.
These days, you are lucky that many tools are available to create many patterns and designs that you may want. You can create patterns on your own, however simple or complicated they may be.
What are cross stitch samplers?
Cross stitch samplers are cross stitch patterns made up of different designs like texts, borders or little motifs. A sampler is also used when describing the finished cross stitch project.
Stitchers created samplers in the olden times to serve as reference samples for stitches and designs. They are usually stitched on singular pieces of linen. The designs usually stitched on the samplers were letters, different stitches, designs, and figures. The sampler is how ladies pass on their cross stitching skills to the next generation when pattern books were not yet available.
Samplers were very important items in the past when there were no ways to print or copy the designs on paper. Experienced cross stitchers make these samplers from different stitches, motifs and designs. They serve as a guide to creating intricate borders, texts, symbols and many other traditional designs.
The modern-day samplers do not look so much like the traditional samplers back in the day. But most designs these days still have the characteristics of the samplers in the past, such as letters and motifs. You can also find religious quotes or poetic messages in contemporary samplers.
You can find various sampler designs these days in different categories. Your design choices can be alphabet, babies, religion, weddings, and anniversaries.
The purpose of cross stitch samplers has evolved from being “samplers,” which are references for stitches or designs. You can now display a sampler as an artwork itself which can adorn a wall and convey messages. And designs are not crammed into a narrow piece of linen but are well laid out in Aida fabric with a pattern or design chart to match.
Can you freehand cross stitch?
Some cross stitchers can do freehand cross stitching by copying straight from a picture or an actual object. If you are talented enough on cross stitching, you can do it. But it is good to know that at present, we have many modern tools to help create various cross stitch designs.
Doing your cross stitch without a pattern can be done, but it can be quite challenging and cumbersome. If you really want to create your design without a pattern, you can make simple cross stitch pieces that include texts and simple motifs. For complicated and intricate designs, it might be necessary for you to have a pattern to guide you as you go along with your cross stitch project.
Can you create your own cross stitch pattern?
You can create your cross stitch patterns if the design you are looking for is not available in the market. Consider yourself lucky that right now, you have many options in creating your pattern. If you want to create your own cross stitch patterns, here are two ways you can do so.
- Do it by hand.
Designing a cross stitch pattern by hand is quite simple. But some stitchers might say that it would take someone who draws well to create a nice design. It may not always be the case because you can choose simple designs to copy or trace.
- First, draw or trace your design on a sheet of graph paper using a pencil.
- Color the individual squares using colored pencils to represent each cross stitch.
- For a more detailed pattern, you can use graph paper which has more squares per inch.
- You can also add gradients of color to your design.
- Bring the original picture that you copied when you buy your threads.
- Start stitching!
- Use cross stitch software.
By using software, your creativity is boundless. You can find many software programs available that you can use to design patterns. Two popular examples would be MacStitch which can be used with the Mac, and the WinStitch which you can use on a PC. Another reliable and famous software used for PCs is the PC Stitch.
You can also find free cross stitch pattern generators online to experiment on and make simple designs. This free online software usually has limited features, and color matching is not accurate. Free online software such as Caption Maker can help you create texts on your cross stitch.
If you are really serious about this craft, it will not hurt if you spend a few dollars on real software. Having a good software program that you can use to design will make sure that you will get accurate color matching. You must get a good color match before you buy your threads and proceed with stitching, or else you will waste precious time and materials.
Using cross stitch software is less time-consuming than making your pattern by hand. You can also create more elaborate patterns such as family portraits or paintings. Your cross stitch work size is not limited when designing with software. You can make bigger and more complicated designs with cross stitch software to generate your pattern. You can combine more colors and experiment on a wider range of color gradients. By using software, your design options are endless.