by Esther Kao
I recently saw Jessica Decker’s amazing giant cross stitch pieces, and was inspired to make my own. I grew up cross stitching, and remember how tedious and time-consuming it was. This is way faster. And, you’re left with something cool to hang on your wall!
Large painting canvas (mine was 16″ x 20″)
Embroidery thread (or yarn)
Embroidery needle (you need one with a large eye)
Graph paper (or you can download your own graph printable graph paper here)
Colored pencils or markers
Acrylic paint (optional)
Start by taping several sheets of graph paper together to make one that is the same size as your canvas. I had to tape 4 of my sheets together to fit my 16 x 20 art board.
The next step is to create your artwork on the graph paper. Use your colored pencils to do this. Since I live in the South, I thought it’d be fun to make mine of a giant Texas. I googled “8-bit Texas” and used the images that popped up as reference to draw mine.
Just a hint on what to use as subject matter: simple images work best. (whether silouettes or outlines or an object). If you have something in mind, but aren’t sure how to translate it onto graph paper, try doing a google search for your subject matter in “8-bit.” This will give you the most simplified version of your image.
Once you’re done with your pattern, center it on your canvas and tape the edges down.
Next, take your embroidery needle and carefully punch a hole for each cross section on your pattern. You’re essentially creating a grid on the canvas. This is how you transfer your design onto the canvas without using pencil or carbon paper or anything that might mark up the work surface.
Make sure to support the center of the canvas with your other hand while you do this so you don’t stretch out the fabric during this step.
Now it’s time to stitch! Use your graph paper drawing as a guide for where to stitch (as well as how many stitches and what colors to use). It’s important to keep the thread taut as you create your cross stitches, or else the whole thing will look loose and saggy.
Once you’re done with your stitching, you can add a splash of color to the canvas by painting the sides a fun color. To do this, use your masking tape to block off the center of the canvas. Then carefully paint the edges. Once the paint has dried, peel off the masking tape.
Now step back and admire your handiwork!
If you’re interested in getting a DIY giant cross stitch kit, you can check out the ones that Jessica Decker made especially for Kollabora