Cross stitch letters: the complete guide
Ever wanted to personalise your stitched projects with names or letter initials? Learn all about alphabets in our complete guide to cross stitch letters, including a selection of easy to stitch ABC projects to start today. Plus get a free backstitch alphabet chart download to use for all your cross stitch letters projects!
Cross stitch alphabet letters hold boundless opportunities, from creating name plaques for kids, table settings for events, personalised tags and cards for gifts and more. Letters are also great for adding names or initials to your other cross stitch projects. Or maybe you want to cross stitch a favourite phrase or quote, or even a full poem or song lyrics, to display on the wall.
With so many possibilities it can be difficult to know where to start looking for the perfect cross stitch letter theme or style. The World of Cross Stitching magazine includes a brand new set of letters in every issue – check out their digital archive of back issues. Each issue features a new set of alphabet letters on a variety of themes, including animals, plants and florals, vehicles, seasonal events, kids and more. You’ll also find lots of different typographic styles, from bold and modern to swirly and scripted.
Plus you’ll find a backstitch style letter set with every Design Library project in The World of Cross Stitching magazine too. Save these to mix and match with other projects – you never know when one might come in handy.
Get started with cross stitching letters
The key to success with cross stitching letters is all in the spacing! If you’re combining several letters into a single word you’ll want to ensure it looks right by considering the spaces between each letter, word, and even rows or columns of words. It’s all about being consistent.
Alphabet sets will usually be presented as individual charts in alphabetical order, or even combined in one big chart, so it’s a good idea to plot out your chosen words before you begin stitching. Backstitch alphabets are often presented in a way that suggests the best visual balance too, such as how many stitches gap to leave between letters or the way they might join up.
To get the spacing right you’ll just need some graph (or squared) paper and a pencil. Using the letter charts you can then draw your chosen words to stitch onto the paper, creating a brand new chart to stitch from.
By doing this, you ensure all the letters line up along the same baseline as each other. You should also leave the same number of stitches gap between each letter, word or row of words for a consistent finish. If your chosen letter style is intended to be joined up, make sure all the joins fit their adjacent letter too. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments to your chart design either – if something doesn’t look quite right or letters don’t work with the suggested joins or spaces, just tweak it until you’re happy with the way it appears.
This is easier to do with backstitch alphabets, but it’s a good idea to roughly sketch out larger cross stitch letters in the same way. It helps prevent costly spelling mistakes or spacing errors that will take longer to unpick later on.
Buy pads of graph or squared paper from stationery shops, or you can even get special cross stitch graph paper notebooks to fill with all your own charts and patterns. With pages of 14-count grids (14 stitches per inch) it’s the simplest method to transfer your sketches into stitchable charts on 14 or 28 count fabrics.
Free cross stitch letter patterns
Try out your plotting and stitching skills with our selection of Free Backstitch Alphabets Charts
There’s a variety of formats and styles to use in whatever way you choose. Just remember to always first plot your arrangements onto graph (or squared) paper before you begin stitching.
Once you’ve created your chart to stitch from, just pick your own thread colours and get started. The backstitch alphabets can be used to create new designs or use them to add your name or initial to other cross stitch projects. Some stitchers like to do this for prosperity by including the date of completion as well.
You’ll also find some great free cross stitch letter sets in our pattern archive. Stitch a pretty phrase or name using this flower abc pattern designed by Susan Bates. It’s a handy set of designs to use for special gifts, birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day and other occasions all throughout the year.
Or it’s never too early to start stitching for Christmas with monograms, cards and gifts for all with Jenny Van De Wiele’s wonderful Christmas alphabet. The designs are perfect for winter holidays and special occasions, and includes a range of letter styles to mix and match with a choice of two pretty circular borders. It’s a great opportunity to test out your spacing skills!
Top 10 cross stitch alphabet patterns
Now you’ve got to grips with the basics of cross stitch lettering, why not check out some more fun charts and projects. Whether you’re looking for a small alphabet to personalise gifts, large letters to stitch individually or full alphabet samplers to frame and display at home, we’ve collated some of our favourites to help get you started.
1. The World of Cross Stitching Alphabet Collection
Don’t miss this bumper 132 page collection of alphabet charts featuring beautiful, themed lettering to create personalised gifts and décor. It even includes two decorative number sets and blank graph paper to get you started with sketching your letter layouts. With designs from fan favourites Stitchrovia, Durene Jones, Joan Elliott, Tiny Modernist, Susan Bates, Jenny Barton and more, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for when you keep this fantastic collection of patterns to hand.
2. My First Alphabet from Bothy Threads
Stitch up an alphabet sampler for a baby’s nursery or child’s room to help them learn their ABC’s with this sweet kit design by Kate Garrett. The kit contains 14-count Zweigart aida, pre-sorted stranded cottons, needle, stitch diagram and instructions. With a finished stitched size of 31x44cm it’ll make a lovely framed picture to hang on the wall and be enjoyed by all.
3. Dinosaur Alphabet by Lucie Heaton
This totally roar-some sampler design is packed full of details and colourful dinosaurs ready to sink their teeth into the letters – or maybe just have a little nibble! These friendly looking dinos are displayed as a sampler style design to be stitched as one, but you could always split them out to stitch as individual charts yourself if you prefer. Measuring 160x200 stitches it’s a large project to stitch but it’ll be so much fun to complete and put on display.
4. Blackwork Letter Modern Monograms by AwesomeStitch
Ever fancied trying your hand at blackwork? Well look no further than these mesmerising letters – each one features modern, colourful blackwork patterns with an Assisi-style letter in the middle. With a full alphabet available, each one fits inside an 8in square frame, making for picture-perfect gifts. They’re available as individual letters or as a full alphabet for a discounted price.
5. Explore the World Alphabet by ClimbingGoatDesigns
Travel around the world from the comfort of home with an alphabet full of the delights of exploration! With sights from every continent included, each chunky-style letter is filled with a different scene to evoke the senses and bring out your inner travel-bug. With each letter only 39 stitches high, it’s a versatile set you can stitch time and again for name plates or individual initials.
6. Free Romantic Alphabet by DMC
This pretty pastel and floral alphabet from DMC is just the ticket to stitch for a whole host of events and special occasions, and best of all it’s totally free! Featuring an elegant script font and dainty peach flowers, you can make up names and quotes to stitch and display with style. Get your free pattern now and keep it safe for that perfect occasion.
7. Circus Alphabet by Stitchrovia
Get your hands on a bright and cheery alphabet in a circus-style font to liven up your home. Designed by Emma Congdon of Stitchrovia, it’s a design that just keeps on giving with so many intricate details and sunny colours. There’s even a numbers set included as a bonus. The complete design measures 176 x 241 stitches but it can easily be split into individual charts and stitch up a treat!
8. Cross Stitch Alphabets book by Hélène Le Berre
With 14 beautiful designs inspired by the natural world, including birds, animals and flowers, this book is a must-have for all cross stitch nature lovers. With comprehensive instructions for each pattern, there’s also instructions on how to use the motifs to decorate projects such as bags, aprons, notebook covers, make-up pouches and more. We particularly love the vegetable and Sakura blossom designs, which cleverly incorporate the motifs into the stylish letters.
9. Calligraphy Cross Stitch Alphabet Pattern by LiftedSpiritPatterns
Create stunning calligraphy style letters with this decorative alphabet pattern set containing the full alphabet A-Z in both upper and lower case. There are also numbers and punctuation to help you spell out exactly what you want to say. Measuring a maximum of 28 stitches tall and between 7 and 35 stitches wide, these letters are perfect for joining together to create beautifully formed words and phrases in a brush art style, or perhaps even a favourite book quote to hang on the wall and help inspire you each day.
10. Free Vintage Alphabet by DMC
Enjoy this gorgeous vintage French alphabet courtesy of DMC. Free to download or buy as a kit with the required stranded cottons, you’re sure to find lots of uses for this versatile pattern. Stitch all in one as a big sampler, or split them out for individual personalisation designs.
Don't forget to check out our guide to our top 15 stylish embroidery fonts and enjoy embroidering some brilliant letter projects too.
More ways to use letters in craft
Can’t get enough of all things alphabetical? Try your hand at a new craft with our fabulous ideas and easy makes: sew your very own ABC with soft plush free alphabet sewing patterns. Showcase your quilting skills with free patchwork Alphabet Soup quilt diagrams and a modern alphabet quilt pattern. Plus read our complete guide to learn how to embroider letters to get started on your journey with embroidery.
Fiona is the Senior Technical Editor of The World of Cross Stitching. She’s responsible for the team of fabulous charters and taking the designer’s submitted projects right through to completion, ensuring each chart and key is technically correct for readers to stitch. One of her favourite roles is converting the wonderful illustrations by the likes of Margaret Sherry, Tatty Teddy, and Aardman Animations into patterns for stitchers around the world to enjoy. She also designs her own patterns at www.etsy.com/uk/shop/FionaBakerDesign