Photo Cross Stitching 101 – A Complete Tutorial

Photo Cross Stitching

Introduction to Photo Cross Stitch

Have you ever wanted to turn your favourite photos into a work of art? Photo cross stitch is a fantastic way to do just that! Combining the traditional craft of cross stitch with modern technology, you can create unique, personalised pieces that you’ll treasure for years to come. So, let’s dive into the world of photo cross stitch and learn all about this exciting craft.

Materials Needed for Photo Cross Stitch

Before you begin, it’s essential to gather all the necessary materials. Here’s a list of items you’ll need:-


Aida fabric is the most commonly used for cross stitch projects. It’s available in various counts, with higher numbers meaning more stitches per inch. For photo cross stitch, a count of 14 or 18 is typically recommended.


Embroidery floss is the thread used for cross stitch. It’s important to choose high-quality, colourfast threads to ensure the longevity of your finished piece.


Use a tapestry needle, usually size 24 or 26, depending on the fabric count. Tapestry needles have a blunt point, which prevents accidentally splitting the fabric threads.


Small, sharp embroidery scissors are needed for cutting floss and trimming excess fabric.


You’ll need a pattern created from your chosen photo, which we’ll discuss in the next section.

Cross Stitch 101: Converting a Photograph to a Pattern | Embroidery Tutorial

Converting Your Photo to a Cross Stitch Pattern

To get started with photo cross stitch, you’ll need to convert your chosen image into a cross stitch pattern. Here’s how:-

Choose the Right Photo

Pick a photo that’s not overly detailed, as intricate details can be lost during the pattern conversion process. High contrast images with bold colours work best.

Software and Online Tools

There are various software programs and online tools available to convert your photo into a cross stitch pattern. Popular options include PCStitch, WinStitch, and Pic2Pat. These tools generate a pattern, colour legend, and the required floss list.

Adjusting the Pattern

Once you have your pattern, you may need to make adjustments to colours and details to ensure the final result is visually appealing. This may include reducing the number of colours or tweaking specific areas to improve clarity.

Basic Cross Stitch Techniques

Now that you have your pattern, it’s time to start stitching! Here are some basic cross stitch techniques to get you started:

Preparing the Fabric

First, cut your fabric to the appropriate size, leaving extra for framing or finishing. Then, find the centre of the fabric by folding it in half horizontally and vertically.

Thread and Needle Preparation

Select the colour you want to start with and cut a length of floss about 18 inches long. Most embroidery floss is made up of six strands, but you’ll typically use only two for cross stitching on 14-count Aida fabric or one strand for 18-count Aida. Separate the required strands and thread them onto your tapestry needle.

Making the Cross Stitch

Begin at the centre of your fabric, following the pattern. Make a diagonal stitch from the bottom left corner to the top right corner of a square on the fabric. Continue making diagonal stitches in the same direction until you have a row. Then, work back along the row, making diagonal stitches in the opposite direction to complete each cross. Remember to maintain even tension throughout your stitching.

Securing Your Stitches

To secure your stitches, run the needle under a few stitches on the backside of your fabric before trimming the excess thread. Avoid using knots, as they can create lumps in the finished piece.

Tips for Photo Cross Stitch Success

Here are some handy tips to help you achieve a beautiful result with your photo cross stitch project:-

  • Start small – If you’re new to cross stitch, consider starting with a smaller project to gain confidence before tackling a more complex photo.
  • Use a hoop or frame – Using a hoop or frame keeps your fabric taut, making it easier to stitch evenly.
  • Organise your threads – Sort your floss by colour and label each one with the corresponding symbol from your pattern to make it easier to find the right shade as you work.
  • Take breaks – Cross stitching can be time-consuming and require intense focus. Remember to take regular breaks to rest your eyes and hands.
  • Be patient – Photo cross stitch projects can take a while to complete, so be prepared to invest time and effort into your masterpiece.

In Summary

Photo cross stitch is a fantastic way to create personalised, meaningful art from your favourite photographs. By gathering the right materials, converting your chosen image into a pattern, and mastering basic cross stitch techniques, you’ll be well on your way to creating a beautiful keepsake. With patience, practice, and attention to detail, you’ll soon be turning all your treasured memories into stunning cross stitch masterpieces.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use any fabric for photo cross stitch?

Aida fabric is recommended due to its even grid, which makes it easy to create precise stitches. However, you can also use evenweave or linen fabrics if you’re more experienced.

How do I choose the right colours for my photo cross stitch project?

The software or online tool you use to create your pattern will provide a list of suggested floss colours. You may need to adjust the colours to ensure the final result is visually appealing.

How do I finish and frame my completed photo cross stitch?

Once finished, gently wash and iron your piece, ensuring all creases are removed. Choose a frame that complements your work and use acid-free materials for mounting to prevent discolouration over time.

Can I cross stitch a photo of a pet?

Absolutely! Pet photos make great cross stitch projects. Just ensure the image isn’t overly detailed and has enough contrast to translate well into a pattern.

Do I need experience in cross stitching to start a photo cross stitch project?

While experience helps, beginners can still attempt photo cross stitch projects. Start with smaller, simpler patterns to build confidence before tackling more complex images.