Hand Cross Stitch leads to Machine Embroidery Cross Stitch

Donna and Chester, her Shih TzuWith so many gorgeous designs available in machine embroidery, why choose Cross Stitch?  Don’t Cross Stitch designs take forever to stitch? What about all those thread changes and jump stitches that need to be clipped? These are all legitimate questions for machine embroiderers.

My name is Donna Vermillion Giampa and I have a small Cross Stitch design business called The Vermillion Stitchery. I have been designing Cross Stitch since the 1980’s. Our company, The Vermillion Stitchery, began when we offered needlework kits in Cross Stitch, as well as Silk & Metal Thread Embroidery, of all things!


Bears Bell Pull - Hand Cross StitchSince our incredible embroidery machines were not yet in existence at that time, I obviously worked all of my designs by hand. My method of designing was filling in a design grid of printed paper with colored pencil squares and entering a tiny symbol with a tiny pointed technical pen that always clogged up. No computers then either. Each chart though was a masterpiece in its own right!

 In those early days, the stitching took even longer to complete than the designing. I loved the feel of the wonderful threads and linens. Color has always been my special thing, and the cotton floss or silk threads available allowed me full rein in creating my designs.

Machine Cross Stitch - Four Bears design adapted from Bears Bell Pull Chart

At left, Four Bears machine embroidery design 

 When computers came in and charting software became available, I resisted its use at first, but finally gave in. I had my twin sister, Diana, there to encourage me to get into computers. She was a CPA for many years, right there when the personal computer came in. She also shared my love of Cross Stitch and we spent hours together stitching. She also was my partner when we started the Vermillion Stitchery, offering hand-stitched charts. I lost her on Christmas Day in 2004. I miss her every single day, but our connection with Cross Stitch keeps her with me in my heart.

Diana’s expertise with computers led me to some charting software for the computer. I was astounded to see how quickly I could chart a design on the computer. My design output increased radically, due to the computer. I still considered myself a Cross Stitch purist though, both in the designs I created and the quality of stitching I did with my hands. I “test-stitched” small portions of every design, checking out the colors I had chosen and how they worked together. I was frustrated though because I did not have the time required to stitch whole pieces.

Then machine embroidery came in and wow, what a crazy thing—having a machine stitch my designs for me? The very thought was absurd! A machine could never put the love and care into what I stitched so patiently and lovingly by hand…never…until I saw a Cross Stitch design stitched on a machine. I was astounded and speechless. The design was wonderfully detailed and so “real” looking, that I had to give it a try. I was so impressed with the quality of the stitched piece, I found myself enter the machine embroidery world, almost against my long-held purist beliefs!

Shown below are similar areas of the hand-stitched Bears Bell Pull and the Four Bears Machine Embroidery Designs...On left is the detail from the hand Cross Stitch chart. On the right is the detail from the Machine Embroidery design, Four Bears.  

Details from Hand and Machine designs

Again, Why Cross Stitch? The answers lie in the actual contents of the design, as well as in the process of stitching…the experience of seeing a wondrous design take shape before your very eyes. Cross Stitches, a series of tiny “X’s”, while all the same exact stitch, can form a visual image, rich in detail and color shading.

You can create amazingly realistic images using those tiny “X’s”. The machine-stitched quality is a bit more perfect than Cross Stitch done by hand, but that very perfection is a wonder to behold! As a former hand cross stitcher, I was used to it taking forever to get something stitched. With the machine, it might feel like it’s taking forever, but take my word for it, it isn’t!

Those stitchers who have tried Cross Stitch on their embroidery machines are delighted with the incredible results. Many former hand stitchers have said how grateful they are to be able to Cross Stitch on their machines. They are willing to spend a bit more time to stitch a design that they know would have taken many more hours to do by hand. That extra effort is worth it to them. The results are what count!

I'd love to hear any comments you would like to share about anything and everything Cross Stitch!
Donna Vermillion Giampa
The Vermillion Stitchery






Comments (21) -

Do you use regular cross stitch canvas to do the designs?  Are designs set up to utilize 10, 12, 14, 22 count canvas?  Just curious before I try some.  Stannie Luker in Baton Rouge, LA spinmaggie@cox.net

When I started machine embroidery years ago your cross stitch site was the first I went to they are beautiful and stitch out great.



I'm so happy to see your blog! I'm new at machine embroidery & was curious about the cross-stich. I'm one of those die-hard cross-stitchers & have hand stiched MANY of your designs! They're ALL absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Thanks for your hard work. It made me look like I was a pro!

I'm interested in the answer to Stannie's questions. Also, when you combine several of your patterns (like in the 4 bears) do you stitch each pattern completely or skip the part that is under the overlying design? Is there a lot of thread changes? By this is mean, does the machine stay in one area & finish the complete design with all the color changes or does it skip around the pattern doing all of one color at a time? I'm not sure which way is best.

I'm anxious to hear more from you! And to hear the experiences of all the bloggers.


rosemariie 7/5/2008 3:18:09 PM

I've been a sewer all my life - for 82 years now!  I made my first dress at age of seven.  All my friends at school had nice new clothes from time to time, and I felt drab.  Yes, at age 7 one can feel inferior.  So..I was able to get some nice gray linen, and so went to work on my dress - by hand sewing - no machine.

I cut the garment out with short sleeves (not set in).  Then I decided I wanted long sleeves, so I just added a piece of material to each sleeve so the finished garment now had long sleeves.

First day I wore the dress to school I was so proud of my new dress, and my teacher noticed it, so she took me by the hand to show the Head Teacher how smart I was to make it myself.  The Head said  "Let's see how you set the sleeve in" -  so she held out my arm to see   the sleeve, and her response was "Oh, that's how you did it"... It was her tone of voice that  did it.   I was very humiliated at her reply, and made  up my mind that that would never happen again, - I'd find out the proper way to set in a sleeve.

So, I kept on sewing, - by hand  still - and learning.

My first machine was a gift from my  fiance,  and that was a godsend.

At our Church, we have a Needlework Guild, which a group of us started about 8 years ago, and we make quilts and lots of other stuff for Charity.  We made some quilts for Priests who were being transferred, and I'm including a picture of one on which I did the embroidery.

My latest quilt is very special - it's for the Wedding of my Niece who is a young doctor in North  Ireland.  It  is the Infinity Quilt by Janome, and the pattern is the "Oriel and Rose".  The quilt is almost finished and will soon be on it's way to Ireland.  When it's ready, I'll take a picture, and hopefully it will turn out good enough to send to you.

All for now.


rosemariie 7/5/2008 3:24:54 PM

Sorry about the photo of my quilt that I promised to send - but couldn't find our how to attach - not too computer literate

I am new to machine embroidery and enjoying it very much but it is slow going.  At our last Pfaff meeting they were showing the 'new' x-stitch program and as I have done a few x-stitch by hand (a slow process) I am very interested in this and will probably buy the program when I return from Calgary to be there when my daughter''s twins arrive at the end of this month. I have one question - I have a design in a book that I really like and wonder if it is possible to copy this somehow. I am sure Pfaff will explain this to me but I would like to hear what you have to say about this.

Bea Reed


I'd love to see your quilts! Greg has instructions on how to post a photo. Just use the link that I've added to get to the instructions.

Please come back & tell us when your pictures have been added. I can't wait to see them!


OK Rosemary! Looks like I'm having problems, too! I'll try to add the link again .....   www.annthegran.com/.../...the-magic-bookshelf.aspx">www.annthegran.com/.../...the-magic-bookshelf.aspx

If the link doesn't work, go to the top of this page & click on photos, then projects. You'll find the 1st sentence says something like .... for detailed instructions on how to add a photo ckick here.....that will take you to the same place as my link!

Good luck!


I have a 2 sets of your designs - Christmas Bears and

Holiday Animals.  It has been a while since I stitched one of  them out on cotton material using my Designer 1 machine, but I seem to remember that it was very heavy in thread.  I was not sure if I did it correctly or not.  Therefore, I would also be very interested in knowing what type of material you suggest and what type of stablizer I should use also.  I know at one time Viking offered a cross stitch program to go along with my machine.  Would having this program make things any better or can your designs be stitch from the basic Designer 1 machine.  Your designs are beautify and I would love to do more.  Especially now that I am going to have my first GRANDCHILD in August.

Thank you for your beautiful work.  -- Aurora

gerrybarrett 7/6/2008 6:38:43 PM

What a blessing machine cross stitch is to those of us that are losing some small motor skills in our hands due to arthritis!   And I love the designs I have done from your site!  Thank you!  But I still can't seem to get rid of all those hand cross stitch design sheets!


I do love the Cross stitch look for so many projects.  I have sewn out several Vermillion designs, a hummingbird runner, a large santa pillow and a whole bunch of santa ornaments.  They were all gifts and so I don't have a single picture to show.  But they were great fun.  I sew on good linen of 14/16 count adia cloth.  Thanks for creating designs that sew and show so beautifully.


donnagiampa 7/7/2008 11:30:43 AM

Hope I can answer all of your questions!

For Stannie:

You can use "real" cross stitch fabrics such as Aida Cloth or Evenweaves, but you do not have to. Most of our designs are available in 14 Ct, 16 Ct, 18 Ct, and 11 Ct for larger hoops, if necessary. Some of our earlier designs were not in the usual counts, but you can still stitch on Aida Cloth, even if the count is not an exact match.

For Rosie:

I'm so glad to meet another die-hard cross stitcher! The design shown in the message is actually a single design with all those bears included. The collection it is part of, does include the individual bears too.

When Cross Stitch designs stitch, they stitch all of the areas in a color, all over the design, wherever they occur. That does leave quite a few jump stitches, which should be clipped right after that color is stitched. Also, FYI, all cross stitches stitch first, then the outline colors stitch last. The same color can be used for both Cross Stitch and the outline Back Stitch. In that case, that color shows twice on the Color Stop Stitching List.

For Rosemarie:

I really enjoyed your story. I can relate to your stitching by hand, as I also did that, though it was years ago. I sm sorry that your teacher was so negative! That must have been just awful for you. But you did resolve to learn to sew correctly, of which you must be very proud! It was also nice to hear how your needlework fills your life--through your church and your very special wedding quilt for your niece. Keep it up!

For Bea:

It looks like you are bringing up the Copyright Issue--which designs may be used in machine embroidery without breaking the law. This whole topic is huge. Generally, if the design is to be for personal use only (ie. not used for commercial purposes), it is permissible to use. If the design you wish to copy is a cross stitch chart, it usually is not legal to "rechart" the chart. This is countered though, but the fact that each copyright owner of a each design has the right to restrict the use of that design. I suggest that you contact the copyright owner of the design you wish to use, asking for permission to use that design in the way you intend. That way, you can rest assured that your use of that design is legal and ethical as well!

For Aurora:

I intend to post another Blog about Stabilizing for Cross Stitch. Hopefully that will answer all of your stabilization questions! The Cross Stitch program from Viking, as well as most others, make it possible for you to either create the design by putting in each individual stitch or importing a photo into the program where it will be converted to Cross Stitch. Possibly you could see if there are any demos available to try.

For Gerry:

I know--we have many people who have found that their eyesight has changed through the years. Doing Hand Cross Stitch can become a bit difficult...those tiny threads are much harder to see. That is one huge benefit of Cross Stitch being available for the machine. It has been deemed a blessing for quite a few! Regarding the hand cross stitch charts, you're not the only one--I have an awful lot of them handing around too!

Bye for now...Donna

What a Great Blog!  I cannot wait to learn more about your cross stitch and other great things!

I love learning new things and creating unusual items from unusual designs.  

I have a granddaughter on the way, I know I will enjoy using your designs.


travelbug1237 7/11/2008 10:15:36 PM


 WELCOME to the Ann's blogging site!!! I just checked my computer after a week and was very excited to see a new blogger and one that is FAMOUS too!!!

A real live 'expert' to help us beginners!!! Thanks.

  Your blog on cross stitching is great and the bears are SOOOOO cute!!!

I am sorry to read about the loss of your sister. I'm sure she is so very proud of you on so many levels!


Cathy who is looking forward to doing one of your designs soon!!!

I LOVE to do the cross-stitch.  My daughter does beautiful hand cross stitch.  I did a sweatshirt for her with a boxer (her favorite dog) on it and it was soooo beautiful.  When she looked at it she just gasped - and said "Do you know how long this would have taken me to do?"  It took 2 or 3 hours as I remember - it would have taken her days!  The detail and thread changes in a good design make it absolutely spectacular - and fun!

I have been looking at some of the xstitch designs, but have seen very little about what to sew it on. Can it be sew on anything or just linen? Do you have to have special software for cross stitch?


donnagiampa 8/21/2008 12:12:03 PM

Cathy--Thank you for your warm welcome! This is a great way to meet with stitchers who share the same excitement about our stitching.

Wotrmere--Isn't that wonderful when hand cross stitchers appreciate what we can do on our machines? She is absolutely right--it takes several hours just to do a few inches of cross stitch.

Can you describe the stablization you used for the sweatshirt? I'm sure we'd all like to hear what worked so well for you!

Mary--As Wotrmere notes above, you can even stitch on sweat shirts! You do not have to use "official" cross stitch evenweave fabrics to still have wonderful results. You might want to experiment a bit with the stabilization if you are trying a fabric that is alot different from cotton or linen. Try stitching just a small portion of the design on a scrap of the fabric you are considering using...Have Fun!


Thank you so much for showing the detailed view comparison! I used to be a devoted hand cross stitcher but moved on to other hobbies when the tiny stitches became to difficult to see.  I love the look, though, so I will have to take the leap into machine cross stitching!

jaimebeth1 4/2/2015 3:18:33 PM

I recently got an embroidery machine and was really excited to learn that I could also use it for cross stitch patterns.  But  all of the cross stitch patterns that I find are in PDF.  My embroidery machine software will not accept PDFs and I have not gotten any digitizing software yet.  Do you sell any cross stitch patterns in the traditional embroidery design formats (xxx, art, emb, etc.)?

Thank you,

I have transferred your question from the blog in 2008 to this current blog.  It makes it easier to find.

Yes, .pdf is a file document for computers and not for machine embroidering.  Some of the common machine ones are .pes, .dst, .sew and others.  Check your manual for the right file for your machine.  

May I suggest that you use this link to find some cross stitch designs right here?
In the Blue Header, the white area is for searches - use 'cross stitch'.

About 300 came up, some of which are free which helps when you are learning to use your machine.

Another place to help you is my beginners tutorial.  community.annthegran.com/.../default.aspx
You will create, using any design you want, something with step by step instructions.

Hope this helps!  May you be blessed in ways you have not yet imagined.


Hi! so i know this is a very old post.... but instead of creating a new one I thought I will try here first.
I am very new to machine embroidery - just got a Brother machine. I would like to transfer a design I created a while back (on paper) for the machine. What is the best way to do this?
I was looking at HobbyWare Pattern Maker. But they went out of business in December, and while I can still find the standart software, I cannot find the Machine Embroidery Add-on, and without that I won't have a machine-compatible file. Thanks in advance!

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