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.
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. I also have a number of text/letter patch patterns developed for flags with different stripe counts!
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).
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).
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:
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:
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.
This is what my patch looks like, with the background filled in but empty blocks left for said diagonal back stitches / half cross stitches:
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.
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!
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.
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.