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.)
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.)
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)