Here is a question I see all the time. Which cross stitch software is best? Well, the answer is more complicated than that, so I’ll run a little demo here with PC Stitch Pro, Hobbyware Pattern Maker, WinStitch, Cross Stitch Platinum Plus, STOIK, KG Chart, PhotoPad, Crosti, Pic2Pat, Thread-Bare, and StitchYourPhoto. I’m in a unique position to compare this software because I own so a good deal of different software, plus I enjoy doing little comparisons. You can call it an expensive habit. I’m a software addict. I actually own many more pieces of cross stitch software, but these are pretty popular choices, so we’ll compare with them today.
I’m going to use these two images of fly eyes. The one is rather simple and the other more complex with blending in background. I will not edit or manipulate these in any manner. I will load them into the software creating a mockup 100 stitches wide for simpler image and 150 stitches wide for more complex.
I use this software so I have no reason to talk badly about any of it. This will allow you to do the comparison for yourself. I have changed default settings in both Pattern Maker and Cross Stitch Platinum any changes from default I made were to change results for better. (I use these.) PC Stitch, I just upgraded to 11, so it was using fresh install with the default settings. I didn’t restrict number of colors at all for these comparisons. You may consider these biased if you would like, but I did try my best to be unbiased and just show results.
So there you have just generic image loaded and you can see that there is a difference.
Now, I’ll load them into PC Stitch first. Here are the mockup’s that come out directly from PC Stitch.
A brief review of PC Stitch. If you’ve never used cross stitch software and just want basic charts. This is the software I recommend for most users. It’s easy to use and relatively cheap. I really like the new update with PC Stitch 11. It’s really worth the cost of the upgrade. PC Stitch reads colors a little more pastel than they really are, so if you like bright vibrant colors you can expect your artwork to be slightly less. You should blow up the colors a little more vibrant in order to account for this not really glitch, but more reality of the software. All software uses different systems to match the colors. I really like their new system of showing stitched fonts.
Now, I’ll load them into Pattern Maker. Here are the mockup’s that come out directly from Pattern Maker.
A brief review of Pattern Maker. This software was my favorite for a long time. There are a lot of my charts created with this here on Advanced Cross Stitch. They however will not update this software any longer, so I have tried to veer away from them slightly. I’m so familiar with it though I sometimes work with this still. I like it for fades best, but its color matching is slightly off in my opinion. I also correct for this software in Photoshop.
I’ll use WinStitch to chart these now. Here are the mockups from WinStitch.
A very brief review of WinStitch. This software is very bright and nice appearing. It’s probably the nicest of all. It’s affordable, I bought it today for $45. (You pay extra for updates and added thread options.) I’ve had people tell me how great it was. I’m not disappointed with the results honestly, for having used the software for less than an hour. I just pulled these images in with the default settings.
I’ll load them into Cross Stitch Platinum. Here are the mockup’s that come out directly from Cross Stitch Platinum.
A brief review of Cross Stitch Platinum. This is my favorite software, but it’s got the largest learning curve. If you aren’t good with computer software, this option may be difficult for you. It’s not intuitive. They try to sell upgraded versions. I like you can chart for machine embroidery machines as well though. I would love to see some of my charts machine embroidered. I’m working on getting an excellent machine for that.
Here are the images out of KG Chart.
I honestly have never used this software, KG Chart. I downloaded it just for this experiment because it was fairly highly rated on another site that I saw. So I used the free 30 day trial to create these images. I changed no settings. It looks pretty good from these though. I may purchase it just to check it out more. It’s a little concerning though that they have not updated it since 2012, according to its file. So, should wait and see what happens update wise with this one.
I’ll load them into STOIK pattern software. Here is the mockup’s that come directly from STOIK.
A brief review of STOIK. Honestly, I’m surprised with how bad these come out. I like the ease of using this software and use it sometimes. It’s probably the most user friendly of all the software that I have. It is also one that I got first, so the start of my stitching software addiction.
Here is PhotoPad by NCH Software.
A brief review of PhotoPad. It’s sort of confusing software because making charts isn’t its only options. It doesn’t have a lot of options though for creating charts. The editing is limited as well. It also doesn’t have a variety of symbols. You’ll have to watch your chart closely. It calls all stitching embroidery as well, so everything about it makes you feel like this is just a side thing that it does. The chart quality seems okay for the smaller simple image, but way off for the bigger tougher image.
Here is the free Pic2Pat option, loaded directly from
A brief review of Pic2Pat. This service is fantastic for perfectly clear images, but skin tones it’s terrible at. I hate seeing beautiful stitching with terrible charting and you can almost assume that we used this system when you see that. It has its place, but it’s definitely hit or miss. These images turned out okay though for what they are. I would probably not stitch the fade like that, but the close up of the fly is lovely. I recommend trying it and if you aren’t completely happy look at other options. It is you get what you pay for sometimes…
I also don’t like this option for the ease of which you can break copyright laws. It’s the law to get artist permission prior to stitching images and I’m a firm supporter of artists. Artists make the world better and supporting them is a huge part of what I try to do. Let’s support artists together!
Here are the results from Crosti.
Crost is software I had never heard of until someone told me about it as a comment on this article. Heck, why not give it a shot? Here is what it showed gave. It doesn’t seem to have a lot of options, but it’s free software. This seems to be pretty good with limited capability. If your image is small and requires very few colors. This might be a great option. This is much less capable when the image is more detailed or needs to contain more colors. It’s free though, so give it a shot.
Here is the results from the online software Thread-bare.
This is online software similar to the free Pic2Pat. The difference is well… they charge you a lot of use their online software at $10 a chart. (You do the work, but you pay them too.) This company doesn’t verify image ownership either, so they allow copyright laws to be broken.
It’s almost always bad to see people use this service. You can see the inferior quality of it just from these almost perfect images. I would never recommend this software. It also charges you for the patterns which makes it even worse.
I get compared to StitchYourPhoto.com a lot as well. This service charges $5 for the downloadable version of chart created.
I prefer using different pieces of software based on what the customer wants or what my goal for the chart is. What I did here is nothing like what my service is for custom charts. I edit your image to make it as close to ideal for whatever software I use in the end.
We completely customized my service to your wants and needs for the piece you want to create. There is a lot more to getting a great chart than just putting image into the software, but as you can see you’ll get pretty excellent results if your image going in is fairly clear like these are. If your images have even the slightest areas that aren’t perfectly clear, these software options aren’t your best option. I will work to clean up your image and either eliminate it or edit image to reduce emphasis on areas less desirable to the eye. I provide free mockups to show you what your stitching will look like as well, so there is no obligation if you aren’t completely happy with the way the chart will look.
Since you made it reading this far, maybe you would like to read some other reviews from publications. I’m trying to collect these so we can find them in one spot.