With many cross stitch companies offering a comprehensive photo-charting service, it’s now become easier than ever to capture a special family moment, the face of a newborn baby, or a portrait of a cherished pet. But how do you know which service to choose?
We’ve reviewed eight photo-charting services here, asking each company to produce a chart of Kizzy the kitten from the original photo above. Each service offers a unique approach and the results are varied, so let us guide you through the options and help you to make the right choice for your needs.
DMC Stitch-A-Photo, www.dmccreative.co.uk, 0116 275 4000
With this chart-only service, DMC offers a Stitch-A-Photo pack, which includes an order form and envelope for you to send your photo in, once you’ve chosen either a black and white, sepia or colour option. Personalised advice is available, and free services include alphabet charts, red-eye correction, and removal of dust spots and creases from your photo. For an additional £8, the background can also be replaced with a single colour of your choice, and for an extra £6, you can have larger chart options too. Our chart of Kizzy used the maximum 48 colours and full cross stitches only, for easy stitching.
Elite Designs, www.elite-designs.co.uk, 01536 721231
This is a personalised chart and optional kit service, with a choice of either colour or black and white charts, printed on several sheets of A4 paper. Laminated thread-sorters, photo-editing and an added name on the picture are included, and you can also opt for previews of the finished design, and a choice of colour background. Full cross stitches in 38 colours have been used to recreate Kizzy’s features, with some backstitchThis is an outlining stitch that is used to add final details to a design over the top of the cross stitch. It is worked in a 'two steps forward, one step back' motion. for her whiskers and colour-blending options for more experienced stitchers. The close-up of Kizzy’s head was also recommended, and the shoulder edges were feathered for a softer finish. All kits include pre-sorted DMC threads, aidaThe most common fabric used for cross stitch, and the best one to use for your first project. It is woven into blocks marked out by regularly-spaced holes. Use these holes to work your cross stitches. Aida is sold in various sizes or counts. The most popular size is 14-count., needle, chart, instructions, and answers to frequently asked questions.
Box Tree Cottage Designs, www.boxtreedesigns.co.uk, 01905 381506
This is another chart-only service. You get a speedy preview, attractive colour picture, symbol chart on four A4 pages (colour chart on request), thread details and full instructions. The service also provides any back-up help, ideas and advice you may need. It’s up to you to specify the size, your preferred brand and type of thread, and any alterations to the photograph – the results will then be either emailed or posted to you. Our Kizzy chart uses whole stitches only and 25 DMC thread colours.
The Stitching Studio, www.the-stitching-studio.co.uk, 07974 770975
Your photo can be turned into either a chart or a kit, with alterations at no extra cost, and previews sent by email or by post. The charts, which are printed over 10 A4 pages for easy viewing, come in a choice of colour or black and white, and are sent with thread-sorters and handy thread usage information, too. Lettering can also be added to the picture if you want to. In a kit you will find either 14, 16 or 18-countThis refers to the number of holes there are per inch of fabric. It can vary from 6- to 55- count. The higher the number, the smaller your cross stitches will be, so choose a size that you're comfortable with. The most popular size in cross stitch is 14-count aida, and this is usually stitched in two strands. Try comparing this with 16- and 18-count to see which one you like best. aida and DMC threads, or you can specify different threads and fabrics if you prefer. Our chart of Kizzy uses 47 shades of cotton in full stitches only.
Everything You Needle, www.everythingyouneedle.co.uk, 07759 378661
Both charts and kits are available here. When ordering, you can request your chart with either 14, 16 or 18 squares per inch, depending on how detailed you want the finished piece to be. Everything You Needle likes to use as many colours as they can to get the detail in, and our picture uses 56 – the most of any of the services we tested. Each chart contains full stitches only, printed in large, black and white symbols so they’re easy to read. If you order a kit you’ll find that pre-sorted Anchor threads come as standard, but there’s also the option to request another brand if preferred.
Cross Stitch Workshop (Stitch-A-Pic), www.crossstitchworkshop.co.uk, 01779 473535
This service demonstrates flexibility and creativity in its chart and kit options. Sandy offers a fast service that is supplemented by his own suggestions – he provided four chart previews for Kizzy, and discussed possible alterations by telephone and email, explaining some background ideas for consideration. For our chart and kit, these included stitching on iridescent pink aida or the option of using DMC Color Variations thread for the background. The chart was spread over 16 A4 pages for easy viewing, using up to 37 DMC threads and full stitches only.
In Stitches, www.institches-online.co.uk, 01473 830356
This chart and kit service involves customers sending in their photo with a stamped, self-addressed envelope and covering note. The note should detail the exact requirements regarding size, count of fabric, and any cropping alterations needed. Megan will supply a no-obligation printed preview and a swatch of colours, plus the price of a complete kit or a chart. The customer then places an order, once they are happy with the agreed results. Charts are printed over nine A4 pages for ease of use – ours used 47 colours to give a photographic appearance.
Picture Craftwork, www.picturecraftwork.com
Using this new website, you can create your own chart right now, by uploading your chosen picture from a file on your computer. Adjust the resulting image to your needs, change the colours if required, and see the additional menu for advanced modifications to the design. Our Kizzy chart used 25 DMC colours with full stitches only, spread across four A4 pages. Once you’ve paid online, you can then download and print off your chart as a PDF. A kit service is also available, although you will need to use the contact form to discuss your needs.