Are you an aromantic or otherwise queer person wanting letter patches using pride flags with three, four, six or even twelve horizontal stripes? Are you craving patches that read “cupioromantic” or “oriented aroace”? Do you yearn to sew a “fuck the binary” patch in the colours of the non-binary pride flag? I now have frame-patch patterns suitable for three, four and six-stripe flags plus a complete rescaling of my five-stripe lower-case alphabet!
These rescaled patterns will let you stitch words and letters in the colours of any horizontal three, four, six and twelve-stripe flag design. Every letter also fits inside the new 10 x 12 block version of my A is for Aro frame pattern, massively expanding the range of identities encompassed by my icon-style letter patches.
You’ll need familiarity with cross stitch (full crosses and fractional stitches) 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.
Notes on Pattern Structure
Full coloured blocks indicate a full cross stitch. Letter outlines indicate backstitch.
Blocks divided on the diagonal, each half a different colour, indicate quarter stitches. Please see my first text tutorial and my pride month pride patch tutorial for more information on backstitching outlines and placing quarter/fractional stitches.
Space 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.
Letter Patterns: Lower Case
All letters are twelve blocks/stitches high, comprising four horizontal stripes formed by three rows of stitches. While they can be divided into three, six or twelve stripes, or sewn in various combinations of wider and narrower stripes that fit a twelve-block 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 ten blocks/stitches wide:
The letter “I” is four stitches wide, while “M” and “W” are fourteen stitches wide.
These patterns show two stitches/blocks’ space between each letter, as this is the tracking I use for the majority of my text designs. Spacing can be increased or decreased as preferred.
This chart shows you how to convert the four-stripe patterns above for three, six and twelve horizontally-striped flags:
Letters for three-stripe flags require three colour sections comprised of four rows of stitches, while letters for six-stripe flags require six colour sections comprised of two rows of stitches. Twelve-stripe flags require one row of stitches per colour.
Letter Patterns: Upper Case
Because all letters must fit on a single line, some lower-case letters don’t well scale to match other lower-case letters. Additionally, my lower-case “B”, “P”, “D” and “Q” are the same letter rotated and flipped! You may like to replace some of these with capitals, as I did for my quoi patch:
All capital letters are twelve blocks/stitches high, comprising four horizontal stripes formed by three rows of stitches. Like the lower-case letters above, they can be divided to fit three, six and twelve-stripe flags.
Because these 10 x 12 letters are taller and wider than my previous alphabet, you may need to stitch longer words on 18-count aida (instead of the more-common 14-count). This keeps text patches to a more manageable size for smaller garments and bags. Conversely, if using a single letter as a motif, you may want 10 or 11-count fabric, canvas or mesh. I stitched my rainbow “Q” motif on 10-count plastic mesh, making for a perfectly-sized keychain!
Text Pattern Examples
While I create these alphabets so you can make custom pride-themed text, it helps to have a few pattern examples from which to work!
The four stripe “quoi” pattern fits a rectangle 44 stitches wide and 16 stitches high. Assuming a three stitch border, as for my other patches, this means you’ll want a 47 x 19 block swatch plus any excess (if used unmodified).
The four stripe “cupio” pattern fits a rectangle 56 stitches wide and 16 stitches high. Assuming a three stitch border, as for my other patches, this means you’ll want a 59 x 19 block swatch plus any excess (if used unmodified).
Both patterns use my standard two-block tracking between letters as well as two rows spaced above, below and beside the text. You may like to decrease the tracking to one block between certain letters, particularly after the letter “r”, but use of standard tracking and spacing makes it a lot easier to calculate swatch size.
Please see my first alphabet tutorial for more information on tracking and spacing! Additionally, my pattern gallery has more patterns for estimating the size of your swatch or using as a base.
Letter Frame / Icon Patterns: Four Stripe
All letters shown above are interchangeable with the 10 x 12 rescaled “A is for Aro” frame designs, although the frame only fits three, four and six-stripe flags. This pattern is the same size, requiring a 20 x 20 block swatch plus space on all sides for a finished edge. Also like the original, two background-colour blocks/stitches sit above and below the uppermost and bottommost rows of all letters. Unlike the original, only one row of background stitching sits outside the frame.
All frames are sewn by starting in the top left block with the topmost stripe colour and moving clockwise around the frame as you repeat the colours from each stripe. To sew the “O” and “Q” patterns below, start the frame in the upper left with navy for the oriented aro-ace/”O” design and black for the quoiromantic/”Q” design, as those are the topmost stripe colours from their respective flags.
The four-stripe patterns are sewn like the original 8 x 10 / five-stripe pattern, with a clockwise-oriented frame containing seventeen repetitions of the flag’s stripes.
Letter Frame / Icon Patterns: Three and Six Stripe
Designs using three and six stripe flags require a small modification. The frame for the 10 x 12 pattern comprises sixty-eight blocks, a number into which three and six cannot be cleanly divided. As sixty-six blocks can be, I’ve employed a little trickery in two diagonally-opposing corners to fill the remaining blocks.
For the three-stripe frame, I divide the top-left-hand block and the bottom right-hand block between the uppermost-stripe colour and the bottommost-stripe colour. The easiest way is to sew one half of a cross stitch in the top-stripe colour (green in the lithromantic pattern above) and the other half with the bottom-stripe colour (grey). Alternatively, you can use fractional stitches. Either way, I sew these stitches before beginning the rest of the border (meaning that I start from the second left-hand block on the top row) to make sure I don’t forget them.
For the six-stripe design, I sew the top left-hand block in the first and sixth (last) colours of my flag and the bottom right-hand block in the third and fourth (centre) colours. Remember that the shared/divided blocks in both patterns, as shown above, sit adjacent to/between blocks stitched in the two colours comprising it.
Sewing these colour-alternating frames goes easier if you can assign a needle to each colour, to a point where I think this a necessity when sewing six-stripe designs. As the frame is quite fiddly to sew given the constant counting of blocks between stitches, threading each floss colour with its own needle prevents the additional aggravation of re-threading before every colour change. I thread all my needles at the beginning, laying each on a magnetic pin dish, and leave them threaded until I’ve finished my letter and frame.
All letters but “M”, “W” and “I” can be swapped with no modification to the pattern. For “I”, I use a serif styling as it takes up a little more space inside the frame:
The letters “M” and “W” will fit inside the centre of the frame in the same way as my 8 x 10 block pattern. Unlike the standard letters shown in the “G” example above, with three background stitches filling the frame to the left and right of the letter, you’ll only have space left for one stitch.
You can make this patch smaller by omitting the background stitches outside the frame (as shown with my “A” patch”) or working the design on 18-count aida (as shown with my “I” patch). Conversely, you can make it larger by increasing the background stitches outside the frame or working the design on 10 or 11-count aida.
Folks needing examples of other letters and flags suiting this pattern can check out my digital icon and sticker series on Aro Arrows.
Long words make for a long patch in terms of time, materials and application. While my quoi patch took a quarter of a skein of floss for the buttonhole-stitch edge (two metres or so), a fifteen-letter word may require most of a skein. Always have a whole, unused skein (a full eight metres) when edging longer patches. Very long patches may require two skeins, and you may like to sew a narrower edge (two blocks’ wide instead of three) to save on thread.
My next tutorial is a bit different, but it is small and quick to stitch: a freehand embroidery design that can become hoop art, a pendant necklace, a patch or a motif sewn directly onto your clothing and bags!