How to Cross Stitch on Paper : A Fox and an Owl

stitching on paper cross stitched fox and owl

One of my earliest memories involves stitching on paper. Based on where we lived at the time, I would have been 3 1/2 when I unwrapped a Christmas wrapping covering a box of Lacing Cards. I remember my mother showing me how to stitch the long shoe lace up and down, through the holes around the illustration printed on those cardboard squares.

And, to this day, I still get great satisfaction out of stitching on paper. I think everyone should try it!

Which brings me to today's post, demonstrating how to create an easy piece of cross stitching on paper.

how to cross stitch on paper fox

owl cross stitched on paper handmade

These fox and owl pictures can be cross stitched in one evening each. They do take a bit of concentration, as you have to count the stitches per colour, kind of like painting-by-number but with thread, so you probably don't want to watch a movie while working on these, but they are certainly doable while listening to music or a podcast. A bright light is recommended so you can really see what you're doing.

While I've made this fox and owl, you can make whatever simple cross stitch pattern you like, the key word being simple. You probably want to save the more detailed ones for fabric that is specifically designed for cross-stitching on. A heart would work well too, as would initials ... just search what you think you might like to make with the terms cross stitch _ _ _ _ pattern, and look for something simple that is no more than about 15 stitches across. Other ideas you might like are images of fruit like cherries, cats, squirrels ... there are so many patterns available online that you can choose from.

The patterns I used were found here: the fox on a blog called badskirt, and the owl on a shopping site that has now closed -- It's actually a sticker for your wall. (Full credit goes to those designers ... I've included images of their patterns here for convenience and to preserve them, in case those sites are ever taken down.)

The finished stitched part of these ones are about 6 cm x 7 cm.

What you will need:


- A simple cross stitch pattern, either printed up or accessible on a monitor/screen. (See guidelines above when choosing your pattern.)
- A piece of graph paper. I used one of the sheets from my Daytimer, with squares that are 1/2 cm x 1/2 cm. If you don't have graph paper, there are plenty of sites online that offer free printables -- here is one for example.
- A pencil and an eraser.
- A piece of thick paper. This will be the background of your piece, so choose a colour you like.
- A bull-clip
- An awl or tack to poke holes with.
- A needle with a large-ish eye. A needle threader is helpful too.
- Embroidery floss in colours to suit your image. I divided the 6 strands that make up embroidery floss into 3 strand lengths, to make for finer stitches, however you can use all 6 threads or even thin yarn if you'd like.
- A crafting mat or thick piece of cardboard.
- Scissors

how to use a needle threader

fox cross stitch pattern designed by amy badskirt

cross stitch owl pattern designed by liewij engels

How to do it:

(1) Copy your pattern onto the graph paper. It's easy to screw this part up, hence the need for the eraser. In fact, if you count my cross stitched fox versus the pattern, you might notice that his tail is one stitch wider all the way down, because I messed it up. I don't mind the bushier tail, however some mistakes will need to be erased and redrawn.

cross stitch on paper transferring pattern to graph paper

transferred cross stitch pattern to graph paper

(2) Clamp the graph paper onto your coloured paper and place on your crafting mat or cardboard (to protect your table) Poke a small hole at all the intersection points within the pattern. (See the photos to see what I mean.) Oh, and you can reuse your pattern over and over again.

transferring cross stich pattern from graph paper to paper for stitching on paper

cross stitching pattern tranferred from graph paper to crafting paper

cross stitching pattern on paper

(3) Cut the paper so you have enough of the background to frame or make into a greeting card, as it is much easier to stitch on a smaller piece of paper.

(4) Using the right colour of thread, fill in the pattern with stitched X-es. For a better looking finished piece, you want them all to be the same, as far as which part goes over which. If you'd like some instructions on how to cross stitch, here is a helpful little tutorial > How to cross stitch.

cross stitching on paper


Since nobody except you will see the back of the piece, it doesn't matter what it looks like back there, so just go ahead and move around "colouring" the right squares with the right colour of thread.

Assuming there won't be any tugging on your stitches after you're done, you don't have to begin and end with a knot ... just leave tails that are about 5 cms long and try to weave them in while you're stitching.

Also, it's a lot easier to work with shorter lengths of thread, so you might prefer using a few shorter pieces, than one really long one. If you make a mistake, just back out the way you came and fix it.

simple patterns cross stitched onto paper fox and owl

I framed one of my pieces and made the other into a greeting card. If you frame yours, don't cover it with glass, as you want to see the texture of the stitches. (I just tucked the glass behind the cross stitched piece, and then put the back of the frame on over that).

To make a greeting card, make a card base and cut a hole in the front with an X-acto knife. Stick your creation in from the inside of the card and cover the back with some paper that matches the card stock you used.

handmade fox cross stitched on paper in frame

owl cross stitched on paper and made into a greeting card how to

cross stitching on paper owl and fox

close up cross stitched fox on paper

A Gift Idea: If you have a friend interested in dabbling in stitching, you could make them up a kit including pre-punched paper, pieces of embroidery thread in suitable colours, a needle with a large eye, a needle threader, and a link to the pattern you selected. You could make yourself a set too and then have a little stitching party together.

Thanks for checking out my post. I hope you try cross stitching on paper yourself ... I think you'll like it!
xo loulou

[Follow-up - I appreciate that this was included in a Favourites Post over at Knitted Bliss!]
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12 Responses to How to Cross Stitch on Paper : A Fox and an Owl

  1. Kim says:

    Cute! I’ve never done this!

  2. Lisa says:

    What a cute tutorial! I love this project and what a great way to make art for a kid’s room. You make it look so easy!

    • Loulou says:

      Thank you Lisa. Yes, they would make great artwork for a kid’s room! I know your mom does beautiful cross-stitching, so I wonder if you’ve taken it up too.

      • Lisa says:

        No, I have not taken it up yet myself but I did take up embroidery last year and loved it. I have 2 of my mom’s works hanging in my house, she is talented. I had never thought of stitching on paper until I got the idea from you.

  3. Gaia says:

    Love your creations ! and a great tutorial too.

  4. Vix says:

    How clever is that? I’ll show my friend Liz later as she’s popping round and loves a new challenge to sink her teeth into! xxx

  5. Julie says:

    What a great idea, both as a card and as a kit- they look awesome! I love the woodland animal theme.

  6. wow u have the best ideas and you have impeccable taste! gorg! xO!

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