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Cross Stitch Painting

Last week I was chatting with my friend who pointed out that cross-stitch is kind of a dying art. These are the important things we contemplate.

“Maybe older women do cross-stitch a bunch?” I suggested as a feeble attempt to defend our beloved cross-stitch hobby.

“There’s lots of ‘hip’ cross-stitch art you can buy online I think?” she piped in.

The truth is, cross-stitch may not be our craft of choice when we think “hip”, “modern” or even relevant interior design. I refuse, however, to believe that cross-stitch doesn’t have something to offer when it comes to home decor.

I saw our little chat about cross-stitch as a challenge to be accepted! Here is what I came up with — (drumroll now) — A cross-stitch painting using a cross-stitch pattern! This tutorial will teach you how to take your old cross-stitch patterns and turn them into artwork for your home!

Cross-Stitch Painting


  • A canvas or backdrop for your painting. Don’t get intimidated by the word “canvas.” For my painting backdrop I used a piece of particle board wood that I painted white.
  • Paint in the color(s) of your choice. I wanted to go simple so I went with just one color; a tangerine color.
  • A paintbrush or sharp-ended tool (e.g. a toothpick or sharpened pencil)
  • A pencil for marking the wood
  • A tape measure
  • And finally, a cross-stitch pattern. I couldn’t find the perfect pattern so I created my own on my computer using THIS free silhouette of a deer.

Cross-Stitch Painting

Step one is all about getting “organized” for your project. Your goal is to transform a cross-stitch pattern onto a much larger piece of wood. First I counted how many squares (or “x”-stitch) wide and tall my cross-stitch pattern was. I established that each cross-stitch square should be 1/2″ square on my painted backdrop. Depending on the size of your backdrop or cross-stitch pattern you may want to figure your gird to be 1″ squares or 1/4″ squares.

Cross Stitch Painting

For step two it’s time to put all your organization to good work! Using a tape measure create pencil marks along all four boarders of your wood backdrop at 1/2″ spacing. In other words, I created a dash mark every 1/2″ around the boarder.

Cross Stitch Painting

Now for step three, using a straight edge item (I used a poster board), connect corresponding dashes. For example, I connected the first dash on the top of the board to the first dash on the bottom of the board creating lines running parallel to the left and right side of your board. After you have created grid lines all the way from top to bottom on your board it’s time to do the same across your board, tracing lines from the left to the right side of your board. This will create one large grid on your backdrop that matches the grid on your cross-stitch pattern.

Cross Stitch Painting

Time for a simple step! All you have to do for step four is count over on your cross-stitch pattern until you get to the first “x”-stitch. Then count over on your board, find the same corresponding square, and paint in your first “x”. This “x” will serve as a reference point for all the other “x”s you will paint following the cross-stitch pattern.

Cross Stitch Painting

For step five, and your final step, follow the cross-stitch pattern and paint in “x”s wherever there is an “x”-stitch on the pattern. If the pattern is colored you may want to use corresponding colored paints. As a tool for painting the “x” I used the end of a paintbrush to create clean lines. Let your paint dry for an hour or so and stick that thing on your mantel!

Cross Stitch Painting

Cross Stitch Painting

And that’s a wrap! You did it — transformed grandma’s cherished cross-stitch pattern of two pandas hugging into a fresh piece of art worthy to be hung above the fireplace.


DIY, Handmade

101 Responses

  1. Kelsey says:

    Love the idea! Question, did you erase the grid lines after or leave them?

  2. Lili_HGTV says:

    This is great, Alix! I want to do one immediately.

  3. robin says:

    I think that cross stitch is gaining in popularity. There are a lot of facebook groups about it, lots of blogs and many other sites that focus on it. Many younger people are starting to cross stitch as well, due to the newer "hip" patterns.

    • Alix Adams says:

      So true Robin! I have found several cross stitch projects on etsy that I love!

  4. […] of sorts…I am now a guest contributor for HGTV’s (as in the television channel) blog Design Happens! Design Happens is a truly fabulous collection of DIY, design, and decoration inspiration. The […]

  5. Rosemary says:

    As a life-long crafter, I've always loved cross-stitch. It's just that itty bitty counted stuff that drives me crazy. Larger stitches are the way to go. Does this mean needlepoint, and other hand crafts are returning?

  6. carol says:

    I love to cross stitch especially on linen. I agree that it's been loosing fans in the last few years. Just go to place's like Michaels and try to find anything you need. I love your idea. Great looking, quicker than actual cross stitch and this particular project avoids the dreaded real deer head hanging over the mantel ;)

  7. Lyn says:

    I do cross stitch! None of my cross stitch is the "old fashioned" patterns. I create my own patterns and do landscapes, portraits. For my mother's 80th birthday I did a portrait of her in her wedding dress on her wedding day (from an old photo). I wish I could attach pictures to show you.

    • Jan says:

      Lyn, are you by chance from Racine,WI? Is your mom's name Jean? Jan from Racine.

    • Alix Adams says:

      Lyn you should share some of your favorite patterns! It can be so hard to find "hip" patterns at local craft stores but I am sure crafters would love to revive the cross stitch art!

  8. Deb says:

    So love this idea. Will have to try it soon.<3

  9. Anna says:

    I too am a lifelong cross-stitcher and crafter. I think it's fabulous that the art is coming back. I've written to companies like Herrschnerrs over the years trying to promote that very idea. They have updated their selections of patterns and kits and there is a whole world of stuff for young, and, not so young people to try Carry On!!!

  10. guest says:

    Why not honor Grandma by placing her original cross-stitched piece above your fireplace?

Alix AdamsAlix is a guest blogger for Design Happens. She is also a mom and a maker of important things like floral crowns. Her proclivity for glitter borders on the side...


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