Are you an aromantic or otherwise queer person wanting more text patch designs for five or ten-stripe pride flags? Do you crave patches depicting longer words like “aromantic asexual”? I now have a complete alphabet, with narrow letters ideal for stitching non-abbreviated terms, to accompany my many five-stripe block text patterns. Plus patterns for the words “aromantic”, “allosexual”, “asexual”, “non sam aro” and “arospec” … and adaptations for my 8 x 10 block A is for Aro letter frame designs!
You’ll need familiarity with cross stitch (full crosses and fractional stitches) and backstitch to make unedged patches, along with buttonhole 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. While these patterns use fractional stitches to round off most letters, they can be omitted for a more pixellated look.
Folks after patterns suitable for three, four, six and twelve-stripe pride flags should check out my 10 x 12 Aro Alphabet and Letter Patch tutorials.
Notes on Pattern Structure
Full coloured blocks indicate a full cross stitch. Letter outlines indicate backstitch.
Blocks divided on the diagonal by a line of backstitch, each half a different colour, indicate quarter stitches. Please see my first text tutorial and my pride text 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: Alphabet
All letters are ten blocks/stitches high, comprising five horizontal stripes formed by two rows of stitches. While they can be divided into ten stripes, or sewn in various combinations of wider and narrower stripes that fit a ten-block base, these letters are not suitable for other flag styles if you wish accurately-even stripes.
All letters save “I”, “M” and “W” are six blocks/stitches wide:
The letter “I” is two stitches wide, while “M” and “W” are eight stitches wide.
These patterns show two blocks/stitches’ space between each letter, as this is the tracking I use for the majority of my text designs. This can be increased or decreased as preferred.
This chart shows how to convert the five-stripe alphabet patterns for the bisexual or ay flag, a ten-stripe flag, the penthoromantic flag and an adaptation of the arovague flag:
Letters for ten-stripe flags require one row of stitches per colour. Letters for the ay and bisexual flags require four rows of stitches in the topmost colour, two in the centre colour and another four in the bottommost colour. The arovague flag should be scaled to fit a nine-stripe base, with the grey stripe five blocks high, but I add an additional row (six blocks) to fit within my ten-block alphabet. This change isn’t strictly accurate, but it’s close enough to read as the arovague flag–and it frees arovague folks from waiting for a nine-stripe alphabet!
Letter Patterns: Icons
All letters in this alphabet fit inside my 8 x 10 block pixel text frames. The “I” is best avoided, in my opinion: its narrow two-block width means too much left-over blank space. A wider letter, like that used in my 10 x 12 pixel text frame patches and my five-stripe letter frame icons, better fills out the background within the flag-stripe frame.
The letters “M” and W” need no modification to the original pattern’s position inside the frame, as they occupy the same centre 8 x 10 block rectangle.
All other letters (excepting “I”) require an additional column of background-colour stitches on the right and left.
This chart compares letters from the 8 x 10 pixel alphabet with those from the 6 x 10 block alphabet. In all cases, you’ll place the letters in the centre of an 8 x 10 rectangle, which itself sits in the centre of a 16 x 16 square contained within the frame. If you decide to use my two-block letter “I”, simply place it in the centre of the peach rectangles–meaning you’ll stitch three additional columns, on each side of the “I”, in your background colour instead of just the one.
All 6 x 10 and 8 x 10 icon/frame patterns fit a square 20 stitches wide and 20 stitches high. Assuming a three stitch border, as for my other patches, this means you’ll want a 23 x 23 block swatch plus any excess (if used unmodified).
While I create these alphabets so you can make whatever pride-themed text takes your fancy, I want to expand upon my ten-block pattern collection with a few more ready-to-stitch identity terms!
The five-stripe “allosexual” pattern fits a rectangle 82 stitches wide and 14 stitches high. Assuming a three stitch border, as for my other patches, this means you’ll want a 85 x 17 block swatch plus any excess (if used unmodified).
The five-stripe “aromantic” pattern fits a rectangle 72 stitches wide and 14 stitches high. Assuming a three stitch border, as for my other patches, this means you’ll want a 75 x 17 block swatch plus any excess (if used unmodified).
The five-stripe “arospec” pattern fits 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).
The five-stripe “asexual” pattern fits 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).
The five-stripe “non sam aro” pattern fits a rectangle 82 stitches wide and 14 stitches high. Assuming a three stitch border, as for my other patches, this means you’ll want a 85 x 17 block swatch plus any excess (if used unmodified).
All five patterns use a two-block tracking between letters as well as two rows of background stitching spaced above, below and beside the text. Multi-word patterns contain a standard five-block spacing between words. You may like to decrease or increase either, especially between certain letters or words, but a consistent tracking and/or spacing makes it easier to both estimate swatch size and create new patterns from existing ones.
Please see my first alphabet tutorial for more information on tracking and spacing. Additionally, my pattern gallery has more patterns to use for estimating fabric swatches or as a base for custom patterns.
Stitching Long Patches
I spent the best part of two days stitching the buttonhole edging on my allosexual patch. At this size, these patches aren’t quick-sew pieces. Consider them as a project piece requiring several hours, a fair bit of patience and, if you’re like me, streaming a season or two of a TV show!
Sewing beginners should first try stitching smaller words, especially if you wish a finished buttonhole-stitch edge. Alternatively, to save on time or stitching, you may prefer to fill in the background colour using non-sewing methods like fabric paint or alcohol-based graphic markers.
While my smaller text patches take roughly a quarter of a skein of floss (two metres) for the buttonhole-stitch edge, a fifteen-letter word may require most of a skein. When edging longer patches, always use a whole, unused skein or have a second skein ready to match a partial one. Very long patches may require more than one skein. You can also sew a narrower edge (making it two blocks wide instead of three) to save a little on thread.
(Some cheap department-store embroidery and cross-stitch kits come with five or six meter skeins, not the standard eight metres available in bundled and open-stock flosses. Even if your kit skeins are unused, check the length before stitching: you may not have quite enough thread if you’re counting on all eight metres.)
Likewise, if needing thread in a single colour from more than one skein, check their colour matching before starting your project. Take it from me: finishing a skein mid-project only to realise my spare skein doesn’t match the first is the worst! Especially when I discovered that my local craft shop had since restocked with floss from a different dye batch again! Even high-quality flosses can have slight differences in colour between batches; cheap flosses often have marked variations. Always check before stitching … and buy multiple skeins in frequently-used colours at the same time.
Fabric and Dimensions
The narrow (six block) letters of this five-stripe alphabet make it friendlier to long words than my five-stripe pixel alphabet (eight block). Two blocks’ reduction per standard letter makes a huge difference over a ten letter word if you’re planning to attach it to a smaller garment or bag.
A very long word–or several words stitched as a single patch, like the “non sam aro” design above–may still be too long. You can further reduce the size of the finished patch by stitching on 16 or 18-count aida instead of the commonly-available 14-count. Don’t use 10 or 11-count aida unless you want a big patch for, say, a beach or tote bag.
Begin with your text, leaving empty blocks for fractional stitches in corners and along angled strokes on letters like “R”, “M” and “N”. I find it easiest to work in horizontal sections of a single stripe over a few letters rather than completing each letter at a time. While this requires crossing sections of blank aida on the reverse side, you’ll cover these threads with your background-colour cross stitches, so nothing shows through the fabric. I also like to have five needles, one for each stripe colour, threaded at the same time. This reduces the need to swap out threads whenever changing stripes.
The background comes next! As I loathe the tedium of cross stitching long horizontal lines in a single colour, I didn’t want to sew 82 stitches across the top and bottom of my “allosexual” patch. Instead, I filled in the background by working in sections roughly the width of each letter:
Usually, I fill in the column between two letters, starting two blocks above the tops of my letters and finishing two blocks below the bottoms. Then I stitch the spaces around or inside the letter, followed by the rows above and below, before repeating the process for the next adjacent letter. These steps can be done in any order: it’s often determined (as shown above, where I ran out while filling the “U”) by how much thread I have left on my needle. What’s important is that you’re breaking up the background into smaller, less overwhelmingly-monotonous sections.
Don’t forget to leave those empty blocks for fractional stitches!
Once the background is complete, backstitch around your letters and, finally, fill in those missing fractional stitches. My pride text tutorial demonstrates quarter stitches and my first text tutorial further breaks down the text stitching process.
You’re now ready to trim and finish your patch! I prefer a buttonhole stitch edging followed by a backstitch outline between the sections of edging and cross stitch, as shown on many of my finished examples, but you can find easier (and quicker) edging alternatives discussed in my pride month heart tutorial.
Sealing and Stiffening
When sealing the cut edges of your patch with fabric stiffener or clear nail polish, do so in a well-ventilated space. A quick application of nail polish to the edges of a 14 x 14 block patch may not bother you, but nail polish applied to an 86 x 14 block patch can really stink up a room! This work is best done outside or in a room with an open window. I use nail polish (or top coat) that I got on clearance last year for $1 AUD a bottle, and while the price is great, it can take hours for the smell to dissipate. Good ventilation is a must when using glues, sealants and varnishes.
That’s it for this post! Over the next few months, I’ll be posting complete block-letter alphabets designed for horizontal three, four, six, seven, twelve and fourteen-stripe pride flags … plus a few accompanying patterns. I’m excited to work on some of those pesky missing letters so even more aros can stitch custom text in their pride colours.