Invest in some graph paper, or graph tracing paper.
Choose one particular brand of thread to work with and buy the shade card.
Use greeting cards, wallpaper, wrapping paper and books to inspire you. Start a scrapbook or folder of ideas and this will help you create a feel for the look, style and motifs you’d like to include in your design. You can also do this virtually by using Pinterest boards.
Buy a good set of colouring pencils to bring your chart to life.
Try and limit the amount of colours you use so that the design is reasonably economical to stitch.
If you are designing a sampler, chart motifs on separate pieces of graph paper so that you can move them around until you are happy with their positioning.
Think about how the design is going to be used – will it be a picture, or is it going to fit in a coaster or keyring? This will affect how large you make it!
Test stitch a small part of the design to check the colours work well together.
Save all your designs even if you think they are unusable. You may come back to them later and see them in a new light.
Take photographs of your designs when you’ve stitched them.