Home > Blog > Pattern Design > How to Cross Stitch a QR Code

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

A few days ago I generated a QR code for our website and stitched it up. It was actually heaps of fun to do (and the finished code scans perfectly), so I thought I’d write up some instructions so you can make one yourself. But before we get started, let’s spend a few moments unpacking what QR codes are and why you might want to stitch one.

What are QR Codes

A QR code is just a mini computer program that activates a series of digital actions, such as launching a website, joining a WIFI hotspot, or opening a PDF document.

You often see QR codes next to museum exhibits, activating a description or interpretive dialogue. They are also popular on advertising posters, generating a discount coupon, product brochure, or location point on Google maps.

They are pretty cool.

Something that’s not immediately obvious about QR codes is they are actually a boxed grid and all those black marks are actually tiny squares. This makes QR codes perfect for cross stitch because the grid can be quickly charted into a pattern.

Let’s look a little closer.

This is a QR code we generated for our website Cross Stitch Patterns Online.

Can you see that the black markings are actually individual black square that form a grid?

It can be tricky to spot the first time you look, but these blue marking will help you separate the little squares.

Now imagine each square as one black cross stitch.

Cool right?

Why cross stitch a QR Code?

The reason QR codes are so popular with cross stitchers is because they are lots of fun to stitch, the completed project looks super-cool, AND the finished piece is actually scannable.

As a stitcher or pattern designer, your cross stitched QR code could:

  • Open your website, Etsy store, or social media profile (eg, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok)
  • Share the details of your WIFI network.
  • Send a PDF document to a friend or customer (eg, brochure, free pattern)
  • Open a digital wallet or payment action at a weekend market (eg, PAYPAL, Venmo, GCASH).
  • Open a link to your email optin form.

Cross stitched QR codes look great on canvas tote bags, inside photo frames, or just displayed in a bamboo hoop. There’s so many possibilities and the whole thing only takes a few hours.

Are you ready to make your own?

Step-by-step Guide

Follow our step-by-step guide to create and stitch your own personalised QR code.

1. Generate your QR Code

The first thing you’ll need to do is decide what you want your QR code to do, then go ahead and generate the code. If you google ‘free QR code generator’ you will find hundreds of services, but beware, not all of them are actually free.

If you are just wanting to activate a single URL (eg, website, Etsy store, Facebook profile) you could try Canva or Adobe Express because their services are forever free. If you want a QR Code for your WIFI password you’ll be able to create it with your smartphone (which is also free).

REMEMBER: some QR code generators aren’t free and the service expires after 30-60 days. Make sure you will have free lifetime access before generating your code.

2. Test the code

After you create the QR code, make sure you test it on-screen to see if it works. Most smartphone cameras can now read QR codes, but if yours doesn’t, just download a free QR Code Scanner/Reader from the App store. There are plenty to choose from.

Now for the fun stuff.

screen shot from a smartphone testing a coloured qr code
Even with colour variations, my QR Code scanned perfectly using the native camera app on my phone.

3. Calculate dimensions (optional)

This step is completely optional because from here, you could just copy your QR code onto graph paper, or if you’re brave, stitch from the actual code.

For me, I calculated the dimensions of the grid (counting each square manually) then entered the measurements into my pattern design software.

Another option is to print the QR Code and trace it onto graph paper.

An easy way to count the squares is choosing a horizontal row where there are a lot of single squares, then counting all the way across.

You can see in this example, the grid is 29 x 29 squares plus two blank squares on each of the margins (total 31 x 31).

4. Chart the code

Charting the QR Code with your pattern design software is easy. Just create a new file and enter the dimensions of your QR Code when prompted. You can then copy each of the squares onto the screen.

If you are using MacStitch or WinStitch for pattern design, there is a brilliant feature called ‘Onion Skin’ in the display menu. You can actually add the original QR code file as a pale background and then just overlay the stitches. It’s really fast.

From the Display Menu, click ‘Onion Skin’ then “Add”. Then follow the prompts onscreen.

Now begin entering the stitches, using the onion skin as a guide. It doesn’t take long to chart them all.

Here’s the finished chart in MacStitch.

5. Stitch your pattern

Stitching your project is lots of fun and, depending on the size of your QR code, will only take a few hours. If you’re feeling creative, you could vary the colours, add a border or some graphic elements.

If you do add some different colours, just make sure there is plenty of contrast with the background, otherwise it may not work.

half finished cross stitch of a qr code sitting on laptop keyboard
Because it was such a quick project, I just stitched from the screen.

REMEMBER: take extra care when stitching because the QR code won’t work if any of your stitches are out of place.

6. Test your finished cross stitch

This really is the best part of all, testing out your finished piece. If all the stitches are in the right place, your QR code will definitely work.

7. Display somewhere cool

Once the stitching is complete there are so many possibilities for display — what about a handmade greeting card that scans to a personal message or a photo-frame with your WIFI password?

I hope this blog has given you lots of ideas and I’d love to see your finished piece when it’s done. Feel free to email me on admin@cross-stitch-patterns.online or message me on our Facebook page to share your work.

Fun Stitches

Your QR Code won’t take long to stitch so here’s some fun ideas for your next cross stitch project.

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