by Dawn Lewis
Here is my original inspiration for this design
Here is the stamped cross stitch card I made using this design:
18″ (46cm) x Homespun – Blue
9″ (23cm) x Homespun – Orange
4.5″ (11.5cm) x Homespun – White
1.5″ (3.5cm) x Homespun – Black
Self healing craft mat
1/4″ machine foot
This grid is 24 x 24 squares.
Any cross stitch, perler bead or basic graph pattern can be turned into a pixel panel. I used graph paper to plot out the pattern as I wanted it to appear on my panel. I opted for a little less bulk in the white tip of the tail, and though I neglected to add it to the top of my graph, I allowed a full row of the background blue around each edge. My personal preference is to create these as a square … I just the like the symmetry of it.
Once you have graphed out your design, it’s time to add up those colours. This pixel panel uses:
337 x blue squares
149 x orange squares
81 x white squares
9 x black squares
TOTAL – 576 squaresYup … that’s a LOT of squares! Be prepared for some maths!
The next steps help you figure out how much fabric you need. I have used 1.5″ x 1.5″ squares. Given that your average bolt of homespun is 42″ of useable fabric across, you can confidently expect to get 28 squares from a single 1.5″ strip of fabric.
337 x blue squares divided by 28 = 12 strips x 1.5″ = 18″ (46cm)
149 x orange squares divided by 28 = 6 strips x 1.5″ = 9″ (23cm)
81 x white squares divided by 28 = 3 strips x 1.5″ = 4.5″ (11.5cm)
9 x white squares … being less than 28 = 1 strip x 1.5″ = 1.5″ (3.5cm)
That’s about 84cm of fabric all up, and there will be leftover squares. If you get hooked on making these 8 bit pixel panels, you might want to keep those for your next project.
You will notice on my graph paper that there are black dots at each side of the lines. The last thing I wanted to do while I was sewing was to make a mistake and have to undo all those little squares! So, as I finished each line, I marked it left and right, so I could clearly see which line I was up to. I started at the bottom, and worked my way up to the top.
To make it easy to follow the graph, I put it up on the wall in front of my sewing machine and kept my black marker close at hand.
Row 1 was super easy … I just had to stitch 2 blue squares together 12 times. I chain pieced them, so I didn’t have to snip threads as I went, I just cut them all apart when I was done. This gave me 12 x double blue squares. So … I stitched them together in pairs. That gave me 6 x quadruple blue square pieces. I stitched them together in pairs, giving me 3 pieces with 8 blue squares. I sewed all 3 together and had a finished row of 24 squares.
When I finished with each row, I laid them out on my ironing board in order.
Row 2 was a little trickier, as I had to include the 2 black squares for the feet. I calculated that I needed to sew together 6 pairs of blue squares, then a blue + black square, another blue + black square, then another 4 pairs of blue squares. Because they were chain pieced, it was really easy to keep them in order. As I snipped the chain apart, I laid it out on my sewing table in order. I soon got into a rythm of doing this … stitch together block 1&2, 3&4, 5&6, 7&8, 9&10, 11&12 … and make sure that the right colours are next to each other.
If you get into a habit of laying them out so that the colour in the even number square is on top, then stitch that to the odd numbered square in the block next to it, you can actually chug along quite easily without making a mistake. I did make a few, but that was before I got into a rhythm.
Row 3 and beyond brings more challenge as there are more colour pieces, but if you keep your system going, you should be fine.
When all the rows are stitched, it’s time to iron. I pressed every single seam in one direction first on the back, and then pressed the front. Then I flipped it over to the back again, and pressed every single seam open. This helps it sit flat when it is finished … definately worth the time.
At this point your squares will look more like rectangles and your design will have this weird stretched out look to it. Don’t panic … that’s how it’s supposed to look!
When all the rows are pressed, it’s time to stitch the rows together. It was about now that I realised that, despite using my 1/4″ foot, not all of my seams were lining up. Full disclosure … this is not how I usually make my 8-bit pixel panels, so this was a learning experience for me, which I am pleased to pass on to you. For starters … my 1/4″ foot does not give me a true 1/4″ seam. Even a fraction of a mistake cutting and sewing will show up in this stage. I recommend pinning, and getting the seams to match as best you can. You can see in the close up of the foxy legs how they really didn’t match up (good thing I’m getting over my need for perfectionism!).
Stitch Row 1 to Row 2 … make sure you have the correct rows (this is why I suggest laying them out in order, and keeping them that way!), and that they are right side up BEFORE you sew. It will save you the heartache of unpicking later. I speak from experience (between the kids, husband and Quality Control Kitty, the order or rows was disturbed more than once, and quite spectacularly!).
Press between rows, opening out the seams which gives a flatter finish at the end. Take care when sewing not to stretch one strip too much. If you look closely you can see some uneven fabric … I was trying to match seams and got a little carried away. I also have a teeny tiny pleat in one square … be sure to keep it flat as you can.
Now all those stretched out rectangles will be back to squares again, so you will have a lovely blocky, 8-bit, graph-like design, just like the one you mapped out on your graph paper
What can you do with your panel? Whatever you like! Add some borders and make a baby or lap quilt. You could also turn it into a wall hanging or a cushion cover, or even a bag!