Pride Patch Tutorial: Aromantic Alphabet

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.

Aro Week feels like a good time to debut part four in my text patch miniseries: patterns for an A-Z alphabet of five-stripe lower-case letters for use in creating custom cross-stitched text patches and other needlecraft projects. Are you craving a patch reading “aromantic” in pride colours? What about “lithromantic”, “quoiflux” or “requiesromantic”? Or “no romo” or “fuck amatonormativity”?

These patterns will let you stitch the word or letters of your choosing in the colours of any horizontal five or ten striped flag design. Every letter also fits inside my A is for Aro frame patch pattern, allowing even more identities to display a pride-themed initial!

Three cross stitch patches and a cross stitch bag tag sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. First row shows a rectangular patch with the text "aroflux" in lower-case embroidered in the stripes of an aroflux flag against a black background with a grass-green border. Second row shows two patches: a rectangular text patch reading "queer" and a framed "letter N" patch. The queer patch has each letter embroidered in the stripes of a different pride flag--aro, abro, butch, trans and allo-aro-and is trimmed with a candy-swirl variegated floss. The frame patch has the letter N embroidered in the colours of the modified nebularomantic flag on a teal background, surrounded by a matching frame. Third row shows a bag tag, with the word "greyro" in the light green/white/light grey stripes of a greyro flag stitched onto natural/off-white aida. The aida has been sewn onto a green felt backing, the edge trimmed with green couching, and has a keyring attached to the back via a loop of darker green felt.

You’ll need familiarity with cross stitch (full crosses) and backstitch to make unedged patches, along with a buttonhole/closed blanket stitch to make the edged patches shown above. The first instalment of this patch tutorial series demonstrates cross and blanket/buttonhole stitch, while the second covers backstitch.

For a complete guide to the stitching process for text patches, please see part one of this miniseries, where I’ve posted step-by-step instructions for stitching text. All patterns in this series can be similarly modified in terms of letter spacing, adding/subtracting quarter stitches and layout.

Notes on Pattern Structure

Full coloured blocks indicate a full cross stitch.

Letter and frame outlines indicate backstitch.

Space allowed for edging your patch is not shown in the patterns below. You’ll need to allow additional blocks for this when cutting your swatch, depending on how narrow or thick you like your edges.

Lower Case Letter Patterns

All letters are ten stitches high, comprising five horizontal stripes formed by two rows of stitches each. While they can be split into ten stripes, or sewn in various combinations of wider and narrower stripes (like the greyromantic pride flag shown above) that fit a five or ten stripe base, these letters are not suitable for any other style of flag if you wish even, accurate stripes.

All letters save “I”, “M” and “W” are eight stitches wide:

An alphabet cross stitch patch pattern striped in the colours of the green/light green/white/yellow/gold pride flag, with a black background. Pattern is set on a light grey grid. Letters are outlined, indicating backstitch, in light grey. Letters shown include lower-case a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, and j, with an uppercase I.

The letter “I” is three stitches wide, while “M” and “W” are twelve stitches wide.

An alphabet cross stitch patch pattern striped in the colours of the green/light green/white/yellow/gold pride flag, with a black background. Pattern is set on a light grey grid. Letters are outlined, indicating backstitch, in light grey. Letters shown include lower-case k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r and s.

The patterns above show a standard two stitches/block space left between each letter, but this can be increased or decreased as preferred.

An alphabet cross stitch patch pattern striped in the colours of the green/light green/white/yellow/gold pride flag, with a black background. Pattern is set on a light grey grid. Letters are outlined, indicating backstitch, in light grey. Letters shown include lower-case t, u, v, w, x, y and z.

Because all letters must fit on a single line, some lower-case letters (b, d, k, p and q in particular) don’t scale to match other letters (a, e, o, u, x). You may like to swap these with capital letters, as I did in my “queer” patch above, to create an even block-text look.

Folks needing examples of aromantic-spectrum words built using my letter patterns can check out my digital banner and sticker series on Aro Arrows.

Upper Case Letter Patterns

All upper-case letters are ten stitches high and eight stitches wide. They can be used interchangeably with the complete lower-case set.

An alphabet cross stitch patch pattern striped in the colours of the green/light green/white/yellow/gold pride flag, with a black background. Pattern is set on a light grey grid. Letters are outlined, indicating backstitch, in light grey. Letters shown include upper-case A, B, D, E, F, G, H, P, Q and R.

Word Patches: Swatch Size and Letter Spacing

This section is for those who hate to waste fabric, necessary when stitching longer words like “nebularomantic” or “bellusromantic”. If you’d rather simplify the process, just cut an aida swatch longer and wider than you think you need. Keep in mind that the spaces between letters can add up to a fair chunk of fabric, so be generous in your estimations!

A white aida swatch, sitting on a blue microfibre blanket, with the text aroflux cross stitched in the colours of the pink/coral/lemon/light green/darker green aroflux pride flag.

(I changed the “f” design after sewing this, so my patch doesn’t match the pattern.)

To work out my swatch height, I start with the height of my letters (ten blocks) and add however many stitches I wish to place above and below the line of text (usually two or three) plus the width of my border above and below the text (three blocks wide on both sides).

Most of my text patch designs require a swatch at least twenty blocks high.

To work out the swatch length, I start with the total width of all letters. I then add the total width of space between each letter, plus however many stitches I wish to place to the left of my first letter and the right of my last letter, followed by the total width of my border to the left and right of the text (three blocks wide on both sides).

If you leave an even number of blocks between every letter, as I did on my greyro bag tag, you can multiply the number of spaces between letters (five) by the number of blocks (two).

Greyromantic cross stitch patch pattern with the text greyro in lower-case lettering, striped in the colours of the light green/white/grey greyromantic pride flag, with a black background. Pattern is set on a light grey grid. Letters are outlined, indicating backstitch, in green.

If I make this into a patch with my usual three-stitch border, I need a swatch at least 68 blocks long.

(The greyro design became a keychain because I goofed and cut the swatch a fraction too short!)

However! Many words (especially aromantic terminology) look better if I decrease the tracking (spacing) between certain letters to only one block/stitch. While a two-block column between letters like “r” and “o” in “aro” is consistent with the rest of the text, the patch reads as unevenly spaced because the lower-case “r” fills up less blank space than a “d” or an “m”.

You can see this when comparing the “re” and “ro” in “greyro” above to the “ro” in “aroflux” below, where I’ve decreased the tracking to only one block:

Aroflux cross stitch patch pattern with the text aroflux in lower-case lettering, striped in the colours of the pink/coral/lemon/light green/darker green aroflux pride flag, with a black background. Pattern is set on a light grey grid. Letters are outlined, indicating backstitch, in green.

The aroflux design, with decreased spacing where the edge of the “o” and “u” backs onto mostly-blank space, looks more natural and less “gappy” than my greyro pattern. (Next time, I’ll also reduce the column between the “f” and “l”.) Depending on your chosen word and the style of letters used, you may wish to increase or decrease the blocks between each letter as needed rather than stick to a strict spacing rule.

These adjustments will mean adding or subtracting blocks from your final total to calculate your final swatch size.

For more examples of text patches, with and without these sorts of modifications, please see my text pattern archive.

Letter Frame Patches: Letter Placement

All letter patterns in this post are interchangeable with my original “A is for Aro” frame design, meaning the “a” can be swapped out with any other letter:

Two square cross stitch patterns with the letters "n" and "m" in lower-case lettering. Both designs have a black background, with the letter placed in the centre of the patch, surrounded by a striped frame. Both letters and the border, are striped in the colours of the alternate nebularomantic (maroon/pink/white/cyan/teal-blue) and alternate aromantic (dark green/light green/lemon/teal/dark teal) flags. Pattern is set on a light grey grid. Letters are outlined, indicating backstitch, in light blue (n) and light green (m).

All letters but M, W and I can be used with the original Letter A pattern (below) and and the N pattern (above left). These letters fit within a 10 x 8 block space in the centre of the patch, with two rows of stitches above and below the letter and three columns to either side, all enclosed within the flag-stripe frame.

A breakdown of the letter patch design, showing how the inner letter can be swapped out with other lettes of the same size. First section shows the standard letter patch, with an a in aro-ace colours (navy/blue/white/yellow/orange) set on a black background, surrounded by a frame in matching colours. Second section shows the frame and background, with a 10 x 8 block space to fit the letter blocked out in peach. Third section shows the letters a, b, c, g, q and r blocked out in those same 10 x 8 peach blocks. flags. Pattern is set on a light grey grid.

M and W fit the M pattern (above right). These letters fit within a 10 x 12 block space in the centre of the patch, with two rows of stitches above and below the letter and one column to either side, all enclosed within the flag-stripe frame.

For the letter I, I sew a 10 x 4 block column in the centre of the patch. This means I have two rows of stitches above and below with five columns to either side.

Folks needing examples of other letters and flags used in this pattern may wish to check out my digital icon and sticker series on Aro Arrows.

Modifications

These patterns needn’t be limited to horizontal stripes. Folks with three, four, six or eight stripe flags may consider sewing each letter in a single colour, changing colours to match the order of your stripes.

Nor need they be limited to LGBTQIA+ identities, pride flags or patches. I made holiday gift tags/tree ornaments for my cishet family members using these letter patterns by sewing my aida swatch onto a felt backing. (I used this technique with commercial kit patterns by Sullivans, NMI and The Fox Collection, shown below, as well as my greyro bag tag.) For these tags, I used scrap thread and matching metallic flosses, creating palettes based on colours liked by the recipients.

A collection of handsewn tree ornaments, with a cross stitch piece on aida sewn onto a matching felt background with a ribbon attached at the top for hanging. Several feature commercial kit patterns, including a Christmas tree, a kitten in a basket, a bear wearing a santa hat and a wrapped sweet. Three others feature the words mum, dad and jo sewn using the above letter patterns, in colourways of blue, purple/pink and black/grey.

These letters may also work for cross-stitched gift cards, bookmarks, or as part of a small hoop design.

Final Notes

Long words make for a long patch in terms of time, materials and application. While the aroflux and queer patches needed half a skein (or less) of floss for the buttonhole-stitch edge, a fifteen-letter word may require most of a skein. Always have a whole, unused skein ready when edging longer patches. Very long patches may require two skeins.

As excited as I am to have an alphabet for stitching custom patches displaying aromantic-spectrum (and otherwise LGBTQIA+) words in pride colours, this tutorial doesn’t cover many flags. Over the next few months, I will create an alphabet scaled for four-stripe flags, so oriented aro-ace, frayromantic,  idemromantic and aplatonic folks can showcase their pride.

The next tutorial in this series, though, is something I’ve been planning since my heart patch tutorial: a cross-stitched ace of spades patch!

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