Pride Patch Tutorial: Aro Text, Part One

Six digitally-created versions of cross stitch pride patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include a rectangular patch in aroflux zigzag stripes, an idemromantic heart, an aro flag text patch reading "aro", a square in quoiromantic stripes, an arrow design in allo-aro colours and a second arrow in nebularomantic colours.

This tutorial demonstrates my “aro” text patch design, comprised of block letters filled in with pride flag stripes, and provides patterns for this and an “alloaro” text patch. You must be comfortable with the materials and processes involved in the basic stripes patch tutorial and the zigzag stripes tutorial (for the back stitching) before attempting this one.

If you’re not already familiar with them, I recommend practising quarter/three-quarter stitches on a scrap piece of aida (as it requires piercing a hole in the centre of the block). You can sew this pattern without using them, but I prefer the rounded look of the lettering over the blockish shape of traditional cross stitch.

Five cross-stitched patches sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. Each are a rectangle bearing text stitched in the flag coloured stripes against a solid-coloured background and a matching embroidered border. From top to bottom" "abro" in abro colours and block capitals with a dark purple background; "aro" in green/white aro flag colours and lower case letters with a yellow/gold background; "aro" in green/white aro flag colours and block capitals with a light green background; "alloaro" in yellow/gold allo-aro flag colours and block capitals with a mint background; and "aroace" in yellow/brown angled aro-ace block capitals with an olive background.

These patches are designed for a horizontal five-stripe pride flag. If you wish to make “aro” in the colours of a seven-stripe flag, you’ll need to redesign the letters if you wish each stripe to encompass an equal number of lines. You may prefer to use a different style and size of text instead: many cross stitch books have a section with text, and the Sullivans brand of aida fabric comes packaged with a pattern for cross stitching block-style text. Some of these may require less work for adapting your preferred flag.

Patch Patterns and Design

The five-stripe “aro” pattern is a rectangle 28 stitches wide and 14 stitches high. Assuming a three stitch border, as for my other patches, this means you’ll want a 31 x 17 block swatch plus any excess (if used unmodified).

Cross stitch pattern with the text aro in block lettering, striped in the colours of the dark green/light gren/white/grey/black aromantic flag, on a yellow background.The five-stripe “alloaro” pattern is a rectangle 60 stitches wide and 14 stitches high. Assuming a three stitch border, as for my other patches, this means you’ll want a 63 x 17 block swatch plus any excess (if used unmodified).

Cross stitch pattern with the text alloaro in block lettering, striped in the colours of the dark green/light gren/white/yellow/gold allo-aro flag, on a purple background.In both patterns, each letter is comprised of five horizontal stripes surrounded by a back stitch outline against a filled-in background. Take care to choose background colours that contrast well with all the stripes in your text. Putting the “Aro” design against a medium green background, as I did on my first try, results in a patch that isn’t easily readable from a distance.

For the outline/stroke around the text, I like to use a darker green, one dark enough to stand out against the flags’ darkest green but not so different from the text that it doesn’t match. You may prefer to use a shade of your background colour for further contrast.

You can modify both patterns by increasing or reducing the spaces around the letters. Perhaps you prefer a one stitch gap between your letters? A wider space left between the letters and the patch border? Up to you!

Please note that the “alloaro” text pattern makes for quite a long rectangle and will work best on satchel-type bags or the backs of jackets. I don’t recommend stitching it on 11-count fabric (as I did, see below) if you don’t want a massive patch!

Sewing Your Text Patch

For the purposes of the rest of this tutorial, I’m sewing the “aro” design with a slight modification. I’ve placed one row of stitches between the top and bottom of the text and the patch border (instead of two) and two columns of stitches between the text and the left/right sides of the patch border (instead of three). I’ve also sewn this patch without leaving any excess on the top edge, just space enough for my three-stitch border.

Your stitch order is optional, but I find it easiest to first sew my flag stripes/lettering followed by the background colour and then the lettering’s outline. This gives my outline a crisper, bolder look with no parts being covered over by the other stitches.

You can sew one letter at a time, swapping between thread colours for each stripe, but I find it easiest to count out the spaces between letters and sew one colour at a time. I don’t sew quarter stitches at this point, only whole crosses:

A swatch of white aida sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. Three sections of green cross stitch, spaced two blocks apart, have been sewn over two rows near the swatch's top, forming the eventual tops of the letters A, R and O.

I continue with my lettering’s stripes, again only sewing the whole stitches. I add the quarter stitches after completing the lettering, the background and the outline. I find it easier to keep these stitches neater when using the outline as a guide.

Once my stripes are complete (minus the quarter stitches) I have my letters forming a squared, blockish shape:

A swatch of white aida sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. The word "aro" has been cross stitched onto the fabric in block type, the letters sectioned into the dark green, light green, white, grey and black stripes of the aro pride flag.

If you wish to follow a more traditional cross-stitch style, simply fill in the background around the letters as is.

If you wish to sew your quarter stitches, you’ll need to fill in the background while leaving an empty block for any diagonal outline stitches. Any block on the pattern divided by an outline stitch on the diagonal (as opposed to vertical or horizontal) needs to be left empty. For the “aro” design, this means two empty blocks left on each side of the topmost dark green row for all letters, at several points around the curve of the “R” and two more blocks left on each side of the “O”‘s bottommost black row.

A swatch of white aida sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. The word "aro" has been cross stitched onto the fabric in block type, the letters sectioned into the dark green, light green, white, grey and black stripes of the aro pride flag. Two blocks of white space exists between each letter, with more space left above and below them; a sewing needle threaded with pink floss is starting to fill in the black spaces around the lettering.

This is what my patch looks like, with the background filled in but empty blocks left for said diagonal back stitches / half cross stitches:

The aro text patch now has a pink background, the edges trimmed back for the edging. Small odd blocks of white aida have been left bare around places where the letters will be rounded off, waiting for the outline back stitch.

Now you can sew your outline around your letters. I sew a line of back stitch around the outside and inside edges of each letter. If you’ve used a background colour with good contrast, you may prefer to omit the outline, but I find it makes the text “pop” more, especially when the patch is viewed from a distance. If you’ve used a shade that’s lighter or darker than one of your stripe colours, a text outline is essential for readability.

A dark green back stitch now frames the letters, letting them stand out even more against the pink background. Angled back stitch now cuts across the blocks left empty when filling in the background, leaving a very small gap in either corner.

There’s small white gaps left in the corners of the “O”, at the top of the “A” and in several places around the “R”. It isn’t too bad as is, but filling those white spaces with quarter stitches helps give the patch a more finished look.

Using a sharp needle, I come up through the hole diagonally opposite the stroke and down through the centre of the block underneath the diagonal outline stitch, making a new hole. This allows the back stitch to cover where the two quarter stitches meet. If my stitches aren’t aligned, finishing underneath the outline stitch hides this!

A swatch of white aida sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. A block letter "A" is cross stitched on the aida in black floss and outlined in gold-brown, the top corners of the "A" rounded. The fabric is shown with the needle piecing the fabric underneath the diagonal gold outline stitch for the left-hand corner, hiding the end of the stitch once needle and floss has been pulled through.

Repeat this for both the letter and background gaps to either side of my outline. Take care with this, because it’s easy to miss a few!

Once I’ve finished filling in those last quarter stitches, the only thing left is to embroider my patch’s edging and then turn it into a badge or attach it to a bag or garment.

Two cross stitch text patches sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. Top patch is larger with the text "alloaro" stitched in alloaro flag stripes on a green background with a green border. Bottom patch is smaller with the text "aro" stitched in aromantic flag stripes on a pink background with a pink border.

And that’s it! You now have a flag-themed text patch!

A Quick Note on Text Design

If you’re redesigning these patterns to accommodate a flag’s different stripe number or pattern, you may like to rough them out on graph paper. I have two graph-paper notebooks: one for patterns I’m drafting and testing, and a second for patterns developed to where I consider them “finished”. This lets me keep track of what I’m working on, since it’s rare that I don’t need to redesign something a second or third time.

I also now stitch the text alone–sometimes even letter by letter–on a scrap of aida as a test rather than an attempting a whole patch. This is a good way to use up left-over kit floss and random aida off-cuts.

Lastly, folks should know that I have an “aroace” design in the five-stripe style as my above patterns and a four-stripe variation (largely for oriented aro-aces and folks who want an “ace” patch) in the second part of this tutorial.

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