Making your own adorable cross stitch portrait (With PDF's!)

I decided to dedicate my first post to one of the most useless, yet cute things people are selling on Esty. Cute cross stitch family portraits. Or even small portraits of characters they like. And not the full thing stitched out already, or with materials. Just the patterns. For upwards of $30.

Now, I have nothing against people selling shit on Etsy, specially when it's unique and interesting. However, I feel like people could be better served making their own designs, and enjoying the process that much more, knowing they've gotten exactly what they've wanted from it. I know a few people who have ended up with ridiculously stupid designs that they bought 'personalized' from Etsy, and have never received a refund due to their poor quality.

Plus, this is super easy, and incredibly creative and fun. 

I joke about many things...

Inspired by my new favorite TV show, Vikings, I made this little Floki, a character in the show, to demonstrate how easy it can be to design something like this.

Step 1) Find your inspiration and colours

Made a good decision on what you want to model your design on. I used a screen shot of the Vikings TV show, in which Floki was wearing a rather dapper dark red vest and brown under shirt. I found the belt and the shirt were very similar in colour, along with his shoes.

This is mostly a thinking exercise. Find the colours that would best suit the hair, skin and eyes first. Unless the person is a character or wears a uniform, clothing colours are often superfluous. You want to pin down those identifying features first.

Sort out the colours as needed. My mess of colours looked like this...

You can either go nuts on subtlety, or use bright, easy colours. Either is great, and both have their appeals. This is YOUR design, so it's all good in what you want. Just make sure you have an idea of which colours you can use where, and what contrasts with other colours. Black pants and a black shirt will just make the little guy look like they're wearing a body suit.

Step 2) Choose a stance and size

This is probably the most difficult part of the whole affair. However, with a quick bit of anatomy know how, you can be resizing and dicing up your figures in no time.

You can find a PDF to either print out and colour in, or to colour in on Microsoft paint here. I've included one leg in a pant and one in a half skirt, just to illustrate the different clothing that can be easily added.

Almost all the cute little portraits you see on the internet are just with their hands down by their sides. This is the easiest way, and shows off a bit of the clothing they're wearing, and is the default stance I've uploaded. However, if you want to get a little tricky, try adding different poses, such as holding a balloon, or a leash to a dog (plenty of easily avaliable dog patterns on Pinterest that don't suck)

I managed to add a crossed armed look for Floki, because that is his usual stance, and it kind of suited the whole design. All in all, my practice took a bit of time to do, and I ended up with a page full of notes and eraser lines.

Made with pure frustration
As for resizing, I've put a few standard sizes of males and females in 'blocks'. You can either take a few away from the legs or torso. But remember, anatomically, humans are generally half their size at the waist, so be sure to reduce the sizing evenly. 

As for children, due to their large variety of sizes, their reductions are based on what their size is in relation who who else you may be stitching. Again, reducing and adding blocks is very easy, and provided that the proportions are even, it's all fine. I may add an extra PDF later showing how to size children, but alas, am unable to now due to lack of paper.

Step 3) The face!

Lastly, we figure out where all the face bits should be positioned. As you can see online and in my photo, the eyes are fairly spaced out, but they can be put together, and eye brows added if needed. The mouth is generally positioned one line under the eyes, in the exact center, so be sure to adjust if you make the eyes closer together. 

I just used two blocks to represent the mouth, of a slightly pinky skin tone. Using a red can easily imply lipstick, and give a little pazaz to the piece. Practice with colours in the design before stitching up!

Here you can also decide if you want to add extra little high lights, such as I did with the eye liner around Floki's eyes, a hallmark of his character. A hat, tie, pet or even a flower can add a little difference that can help identify the person in this myriad of blocks.

Stitch it up!

So after all the design is done, stitch it up on your preferred medium. I used a basic cross stitching fabric, all cotton thread and a tapestry needle, to make it slightly easier to get through. Always add the high lights last, and I would recommend using two strands of thread, as three just looked too bulky for such small work. 

While this deconstruction was a fair bit more vague than I was hoping for it to be, the whole design process is one of personal need rather than a one size fits all pattern. There is so much inspiration on the internet as to positions and the like, but one does not really need to buy a pattern specially made for their own family, when it is so easy to make one yourself. Knowing you've managed to depict the ones you love in the exact way you want to is just that bit better than having to rely on another person just looking at a photo and deciding what is best. 


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