Reading a Chart/Pattern

What Does a Pattern Tell Me?

Size of Your Finished Project

Most patterns will tell you the design size, meaning the size of the cross stitched area when complete. Some will tell you a frame size -- just be sure and pay attention to which size the chart is telling you.

What Color Floss To Use

If you did not purchase a pre-packaged kit, you will need to purchase the floss colors on the pattern. These are listed most commonly by number and will also tell you the brand.

What Count Fabric To Use

As you get more practice, you'll be able to swap out fabric with no major difference aside from it coming out a bit larger or smaller than stated on the pattern.

How Many Strands of Floss To Use

Embroidery floss is also known as "six strand floss" - meaning it can be divided up into six different strands for working. Most commonly you will use two strands for a cross stitch, and one strand for a back stitch.

Special Instructions

Sometimes a piece may require blending filament, or it may require you to use one strand of orange and one strand of red together to make up a totally different color. All of that info will be on the pattern.

Where to Stitch.

Finally it tells us what we're going to make, and we follow it along to make the piece!

Reading a Pattern

Looking at this pattern we can tell a couple of things:

  • We are going to be using sixteen different colors.
  • There is a different symbol for each color. This pattern only uses full cross stitches. Some patterns call for half stitches and fraction stitches.
  • We can use Anchor (ANC) or DMC brand floss to complete this project.
  • All of the numbers listed down the side are codes for different skeins of floss. You won't see a pattern ask for "Red" because in the world of embroidery there are about 20+ shades of red. You will 99% of the time be given a number to use.

Link to free snowman pattern here.

Finding the Center

Looking at this pattern you’ll see that on the top and right sides are two black arrows. These are showing you the way to the center of the project. The majority of charts/patterns will have some sort of identification on how to get you to the center of the pattern, although I have worked on some where I had to count all the way across and all the way from top to bottom and find the middle. It’s rare, but it does happen.

Especially with a large pattern, it’s easier to just line up piece of paper with the arrows and follow them to the center. I only did that with this pattern to show you how to do it. With smaller patterns you can easily just trail your finger down one arrow and when you feel like you’re in the center, use your other finger to trail the opposite direction to see where they’ll meet up.

I find it easiest to then mark the center square once you’ve found it. You can color it, highlight it or outline it, however you would like. You’ll notice that our middle square is blank, that means we’ll have to do some counting before we begin our project!