Cross Stitch Pattern Maker: Design Cross Stitch Charts in Excel

Have you ever wanted to make your own cross stitch chart, but don’t know where to start? We are going to show you a cross stitch pattern maker that’s probably on your computer right now — Microsoft Excel!

It is only natural that after a period of using pre-made cross stitch charts and kits, that you may want to design your own charts with a cross stitch pattern maker. But where do you start? If you’d like to try making your own charts before upgrading to cross stitch software, then the answer may be easier than you think. Microsoft excel has lots of features to help you start making simple charts straight away!

Below you’ll find a step-by-step guide on how to create a small chart. Then you’ll learn about the advantages and disadvantages of using this cross stitch pattern maker method.

Using Excel as a Cross Stitch Pattern Maker

Start by opening a new workbook in Excel with a standard Excel sheet. Now, you’ll need to create a grid to work from. To do this, click the tab above row 1 and left of column A, which will highlight the entire sheet. Go to the top right-hand corner, and click Format, as shown below.Cross stitch pattern maker in Microsoft Excel tutorial.

Next steps in creating a cross stitch chart in Excel includes clicking on Row Height.Click on row height, and change that number to 0.4cm. As you use this program more and start to make larger charts, you can change it to as small as 0.1cm; however, 0.4cm is a good size to start with. Click ‘Okay,’ and then go back to the format button and click ‘column width’ this time. Change that size to 0.4cm, as well.

Now your cross stitch pattern maker sheet should look similar to the below image. Each square will represent a stitch.
Cross stitch pattern maker sheet example with row and column heights at 0.4cm.

Select your fill colour in ExcelYou are now ready to start designing your own chart. For this example, I am going to be showing you how to design a cross stitch caravan. Now, I am no cross stitch designer, so this is a very simple caravan!

To start off, select the colour of the base of your caravan. Using the fill tool to do this (right image). Highlight all the cells that you’d like to fill. I tend to do the outline first and then fill in everything else.

Highlight all the cells you'd like to fill with your selected colour.You can then carry on playing with the colours and creating your picture. Don’t worry about making a mistake. The great thing about using Excel is that if you make a mistake or don’t like where a stitch has been positioned, you can highlight the bit you don’t want and click ‘no fill’ in the fill drop down menu (as above).

Create the basic outline of your cross stitch pattern in Excel.Create a colour palette in Excel.You then end up with a basic outline of what you are trying to create. This may take a bit of fiddling around with, changing your colours and positioning, etc. One helpful tip includes having a picture of what you’re trying to create next by your side for reference. Don’t forget that you can choose a wider variety of colours by going into the fill tool (as above) and click ‘more colours’. You can also create a colour palette of your favourite colours so you don’t have to keep going in and finding them. To do this, simply click the colour you want and then drag it into the pallet box as shown below.

Now you can go in and fill the colour. It may look somewhat box-like, but never fear, you can add the details in at the end. You fill the colour in in the same way you did the outline: highlight the cells you wish to fill in, and use the fill tool to select your colour.

Starting to Shape Up

The cross stitch pattern is starting to take shape in Excel.Adding details to the cross stitch chart in ExcelNow the caravan is taking shape. But it looks a little plain, doesn’t it? So you can now go in and add detail.

It looks a little block-like, but you can start to see how the finished design will look (image at right).

How to add a border to create an outline of the cross stitch designIf you wish, you can use the line tool to go around the outline of your design. To do this, click on the border tab, as shown below. You can then choose which sides of the cell you are in you wish to have an outline. If the outlines you want are not in the preset list you can click border options at the bottom and you will be able to add a custom border.

This part takes some time, however, it isn’t always necessary to do it. You can use it to show your back stitches though, which is helpful. See detail below on the wheel of the caravan. It also helps to be able to see fractional stitches. Cross stitch pattern with border around it in Excel.

The reason I say it isn’t always necessary to add in the borders (like the picture above) is because if you are printing your design to work off of, you will have to use the border tool to create a graph so you can count your stitches. To do this you simply highlight your entire design, click the border tool and select ‘all borders’. This will give you your graph to print from.

Finished cross stitch pattern in Excel, which can be used as a cross stitch pattern maker!Finished Caravan cross stitch project that originated in Excel.

Above is my finished design! What do you think? Not to bad for a first time cross stitch designer if I do say so myself using Excel as a cross stitch pattern maker.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Excel for Cross-Stitch Design:


  • It’s free
  • Great as a starting tool
  • Easy to use
  • Large selection of colours to choose from
  • Can make the graph as large or small as you wish


  • Colours may not match your preferred thread colour chart
  • You cannot easily show fractional stitches
  • Cannot import your own pictures to change into a chart
  • Can’t print in a key
  • There isn’t a built-in library of motifs you can customise

There are many things that you can’t do in Excel that you can do in Cross Stitch Design Software; however, Excel acts as a great place to start if you are thinking about creating your own charts, but don’t want to pay for the software before trying it.

Our Cross Stitch Design Software offer awesome features:

Great cross stitch pattern maker software from Sew and So!

  • Easy to use with friendly wizards to guide you through different functions.
  • Instantly convert photographs, clip-art, digital camera pictures and internet graphics into stitch charts.
  • Over 4000 motifs and 300 blackwork filling patterns included.
  • Huge range of built-in stitches including full and three-quarter cross stitch, French knots, back stitch, beads and even custom stitches.
  • Shopping list given for every design you create so you can buy all the supplies you need to stitch your design.
  • Multiple undo function lets you step back stitch by stitch if you make a mistake.
  • Realistic fabric simulations show how the finished stitched piece will appear on a wide range of different fabric types.
  • Use up to 200 thread colours per design or use the helpful tool to reduce the number of colours used.
  • Endorsed by DMC and Anchor with up-to-date thread colours and automatic updating of ranges.
  • 1000 x 1000 stitch design area is big enough for even the largest project
  • Print in colour or black and white symbols or even combine the two.
  • Template library includes templates for aperture cards – simply design within the indicated area for a perfect fit.
  • Automatic backstitch outlining saves time and hassle.
  • Add a key to your chart at the click of a button.
  • Export your chart to other programs.
  • Informative and extensive Help file to answer all your questions.

Give Excel a go today as a cross stitch pattern maker, and if you love it and want to expand your design skills, the Design Software is just a click away. It is now available as a Download, or in a CD-Rom version!

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About Nadine

Nadine dabbles in a wide range crafts. If it's pretty and she wants to make it, she'll learn the technique to do so. She is also never without a cup of tea in her hands.