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Cross-Stitch Family Portrait




How do you capture your clan in a more meaningful way? Try something pre-photography: Cross-stitch figures for each family member. This is far simpler than it might sound -- if you can sew on a button, you can cross-stitch. (The ability to count to 20 or so doesn’t hurt, either -- so yes, a dexterous grade-schooler could handle this.) Use graph paper to plan your people from head to toe -- or cowlick to sandal. Then thread your needle and start X-ing people off your list. And for iPhone addicts scared off by something so nontech, just remember: There’s very little difference between a cross-stitch and a pixel.

Use these clip art patterns as exact templates or as starting points for making figures that more closely resemble the people in your life. You can personalize patterns by mixing and matching elements from the templates here: Swap in a different outfit or hairdo, change hair or eye color, and incorporate different details. The scale is different for kids and adults, so if you do mix elements, make sure you’re comparing adults to adults and children to children. (Remember that the scale and grid encourage simplicity and adaptation.)

Sew Cute
Plot out your design on graph paper: One square represents one cross-stitch. Use our examples as a start, and then improvise. (The drawn patterns themselves are pretty adorable, too -- even worth displaying on their own.)

Face facts
We found that it works well to make adults' heads 10 stitches across and kids' heads nine stitches across. Babies' are even smaller -- just three stitches across. Note, too, that eye spacing and mouth size can vary with age.

Do the 'Dos
In cross-stitch, as in life, hairdos tend to capture the essence of a person. Play around until you perfect your daughter's pigtails or your dad's bushy beard.

Accessorize Extra details give a lot of personality. An umbrella, a kite, headphones -- all can be rendered in stitches. Of course, pets are the ultimate accessory.

If you're new to cross-stitch, get a lower-count Aida cloth, such as eight (which has eight squares per linear inch). It allows for bigger stitches and makes for larger figures. A higher count, such as 14, requires smaller stitches. Embroidery floss is several smaller strands twisted together: Thread your needle with four of these strands for eight-count cloth and two for 14-count (for backstitching, use two strands for eight count, one for 14 count)

Learn How to Cross-Stitch




Reviews (9)

  • rebelkittyloverv20 4 Nov, 2014

    This is a beautiful post! I really admire it, I have always had a major creative side when it comes out to trying new things! I came a cross this and just found it super amazing! I honestly have a little bit of a problem on making them look like certain people in my family, for example, my boy friend has a mohawk that isn't ever up and he has "chops." I make "myself" but the only problem I have is getting my glasses. I have cat eye shaped ones!! Any suggestions how I can make this work?

  • Brittany Wiebe 18 Jun, 2014

    Thank you so much!!! I have drawn out 5 portraits including my own little family of 4! I have received many compliments and I cannot wait to make more for my friends and external family! I love to cross stitch but this is way too fun!!!
    I plan on buying the "crafts for kids" book so I can have a paper copy!!!
    A million times thank you!!!

  • jacsmama 2 Feb, 2014

    I've been doodling little cross-stitch people before ETSY was ever born & they look a lot like these people. Seeing these again just made me pick up cross-stitching again. As well, it started my daughter doing it again too, after picking up the KID'S CRAFTS book. I don't see where there is any ripping off!

  • SarahTSwanner 29 Oct, 2011

    I love this! I'm making these as Christmas presents for my friends this year. One of my friends is pregnant--any ideas on how to stitch a pregnant woman? All my sketches look really funny and not very pregnant-like. Thanks for any help!

  • Sinnamon 28 Oct, 2011

    I've been doing this for over 40 years, do I feel ripped off no!! Try for the graph paper.

  • Embellished 20 Oct, 2011

    By chance does anyone know what the name of the notebook used is? I have been DYING to find a squared notebook with a margin! Thanks for anyone's help in advance!

  • marie_antoinette013 19 Oct, 2011

    gableknits is right...the first thing I thought when I saw this in the magazine was of Weelittlestitch's work on Etsy...its a shame that they at least didn't credit her for the inspiration. Ripping off other's work shows a glaring lack of creativity on the magazine's part. :(

  • gableknits 13 Oct, 2011

    you're ripping off small business!!

  • lahop2it 4 Oct, 2011

    I love this! It's easy, fun, and unique. My only disappointment is that there are no babies represented in the templates. Even so, great templates to help me get started. Thanks!