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!
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:
The letter “I” is three stitches wide, while “M” and “W” are twelve stitches wide.
The patterns above show a standard two stitches/block space left between each letter, but this can be increased or decreased as preferred.
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.
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!
(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).
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
These letters may also work for cross-stitched gift cards, bookmarks, or as part of a small hoop design.
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!