Top 45 Best Cross Stitch Tattoo Ideas – [2020 Inspiration Guide]

A new style in the tattoo world produces designs that create the effect of cross stitch embroidery, proving that inspiration for beautiful high quality tattoos truly can come from anywhere.  

Cross stitch sewing is the oldest form of embroidery and evidence of its use has been found in cultures around the world. 

It is known as a counted-thread embroidery technique thanks to the way the stitcher measures the spacing so that each X-shaped stitch is of a uniform size. 

This embroidery style gets its name from these X-shaped stitches and this methodical approach gives cross stitch designs their distinct pixelated look.  

Originally used to embellish household items like tablecloths and curtains, today it is common to see cross stitch embroidery used to produce wall hangings that depict an endless variety of designs, including evidence of people’s biggest geeky obsessions.

The tattoos applied using this approach display a variety of subject matter that highlights the cross stitch pattern that unifies the disparate designs. These tattoos are great examples of the technique that show what is possible when it comes to cross hatch inspired tattoo design.

1. Animal Cross Stitch Tattoo Style

Animal Themed Cross Stitch Tattoo Lamoglietatuata
Source: @lamoglietatuata via Instagram
Source: @evakrbdk(artist) via Instagram
Animal Themed Cross Stitch Tattoo Lamoglietatuata 2
Source: @lamoglietatuata via Instagram
Source: @evakrbdk(artist) via Instagram
Animal Themed Cross Stitch Tattoo Chikiniple
Source: @chikiniple via Instagram
Animal Themed Cross Stitch Tattoo Chlo.vorster
Source: @chlo.vorster via Instagram
Animal Themed Cross Stitch Tattoo Floweroflife.piercingandtattoo
Source: @floweroflife.piercingandtattoo via Instagram
Animal Themed Cross Stitch Tattoo J.skinz78
Source: @j.skinz78 via Instagram

Animals have been the subject of tattoo design for centuries: some of the earliest tattoos ever documented feature animal motifs and date back thousands of years. 

Some people choose to get animals with admirable traits inked on their bodies while others choose to get a portrait of beloved pets tattooed.

The cross stitch tattoos in this collection are great examples that demonstrate how successful animal designs can be when applied using this interesting stitch pattern technique.  

Whether in color or black and gray, for some people a cross stitch animal tattoo are perfect accessories to complement their sense of style and unique personality.  

2. Black and Gray Cross Stitch Body Art

Black And Gray Cross Stitch Tattoo Babyfaceoneill
Source: @babyfaceoneill via Instagram

When most people think of cross stitching, images of brightly colored wall hangings usually come to mind. While black and gray isn’t typically associated with this colorful art form, this cross stitch tattoo demonstrates this monochromatic approach’s universal appeal depicted on human canvas. 

A charming dedication to the wearer’s mom, this piece recreates a common cross stitch pattern incorporating a spool of thread and seam ripper to complete the design. Few techniques can match the understated elegance created in black and gray tattoo design and this piece confirms the success of the approach for cross stitch tattoo design.  

3. The Cartoon Cross Stitch Idea

Cartoon Themed Cross Stitch Chikiniple
Source: @chikiniple via Instagram
Cartoon Themed Cross Stitch Lamoglietatuata
Source: @lamoglietatuata via Instagram
Source: @evakrbdk(artist) via Instagram
Cartoon Themed Cross Stitch Mariette.tattoo
Source: @mariette.tattoo via Instagram
Cartoon Themed Cross Stitch Lin.bongarts
Source: @lin.bongarts via Instagram
Cartoon Themed Cross Stitch Melatneoncrab
Source: @melatneoncrab via Instagram
Cartoon Themed Cross Stitch Seanjogrady
Source: @seanjogrady via Instagram
Cartoon Themed Cross Stitch Nattiebrown009
Source: @nattiebrown009 via Instagram
Cartoon Themed Cross Stitch Nerdsandneedlestattoostudio
Source: @nerdsandneedlestattoostudio via Instagram
Cartoon Themed Cross Stitch Alberto Rojo Tecolotl
Source: @alberto_rojo_tecolotl via Instagram

The characters and stories that people grow up with make a powerful impact on their lives. Cartoon tattoo designs are a great way to memorialize the significance of these stories. The cross stitch tattoos in this collection recreate a number of different cartoon characters including a dragon that uses a more realistic approach but still manages to utilize a cross stitch pattern to complete the design.  

Several other characters in this collection of cartoon tattoos are pulled from the world of video games, which perfectly fits with the aesthetic created by using a cross stitch pattern. The consistent and meticulous effect produced by this cross stitching approach mirrors the pixel art used to create 8-bit video games and creates an interesting juxtaposition of electronic images applied using thread and needle on fabric.  

4. A New Style of Flower Tattoo

Floral Themed Cross Stitch Alberto Rojo Tecolotl
Source: @alberto_rojo_tecolotl via Instagram
Floral Themed Cross Stitch Anthonyniceleytattoos
Source: @anthonyniceleytattoos via Instagram
Floral Themed Cross Stitch Becky Tattoo
Source: @becky_tattoo via Instagram
Floral Themed Cross Stitch Blackdahliaink
Source: @blackdahliaink via Instagram
Floral Themed Cross Stitch Disruptiveinktattoos
Source: @disruptiveinktattoos via Instagram
Floral Themed Cross Stitch Haideguadalop
Source: @haideguadalop via Instagram
Floral Themed Cross Stitch Juanmorenokrk
Source: @juanmorenokrk via Instagram
Floral Themed Cross Stitch Kamalatattoos
Source: @kamalatattoos via Instagram
Floral Themed Cross Stitch Micahmccoubrey
Source: @micahmccoubrey via Instagram
Floral Themed Cross Stitch Riverrattracy
Source: @riverrattracy via Instagram
Floral Themed Cross Stitch Stacielanae
Source: @stacielanae via Instagram
Floral Themed Cross Stitch Tattoosbyaj
Source: @tattoosbyaj via Instagram
Floral Themed Cross Stitch Tylerrowdentattoo
Source: @tylerrowdentattoo via Instagram

While video game characters may be perfect accessories for some people, for others a more traditional idea used in design is better suited for their cross stitch tattoo. Thankfully for these people, floral patterns have been common themes in cross stitch embroidery design for centuries and there are literally thousands of patterns to draw inspiration from. 

The floral cross stitch tattoos in this collection also demonstrate the versatility of the approach for tattoo design: some of the tattoos draw directly on the classic cross stitch pattern and would look at home hanging on the wall in grandma’s sitting room.

Other flower tattoo ideas take a more creative approach, producing hybrid designs that incorporate cross stitching with bold outlines typical of other tattoo styles; however all of these cross stitch tattoos are united by this unique embroidery pattern.  

5. At the Heart of Awesome Tattoo Ideas

Heart Tattoos Cross Stitch Ciotka Zu Tattoo
Source: @ciotka_zu_tattoo via Instagram
Heart Tattoos Cross Stitch Dawn Radford
Source: @dawn_radford via Instagram

Hearts have been common design elements in tattoos for decades, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that people have chosen a cross stitch approach for their heart tattoos. 

For some people a cross stitch heart may signify their love of sewing and knitting needles, while for others these embroidery tattoos can represent a loved one who enjoyed cross stitching.   

Whatever the motivation and significance behind a piece, these cross stitch tattoos demonstrate just how successfully this approach can be applied to heart tattoos. 

6. Skull Body Art and Craft

Skull Tattoo Cross Stitch Sonia Tessari
Source: @sonia_tessari via Instagram

Another common design element in tattoos, skulls are an interesting choice for a cross stitch tattoo. Skulls are powerful symbols of death and mortality, two concepts that seem far removed from this relaxing craft activity, however, it is just this contrast that makes a cross stitch pattern skull tattoo so interesting.

By taking this past time – usually associated with your sweet little grandma – and using it to apply a design so commonly associated outlaws and rebels a clever irony is created that sets these designs apart.

7. Quotes

Quotes Cross Stitch Alyxkopietattoos
Source: @alyxkopietattoos via Instagram
Quotes Cross Stitch Danadane77
Source: @danadane77 via Instagram
Quotes Cross Stitch Djrissaj
Source: @djrissaj via Instagram
Quotes Cross Stitch Tattoosbymell
Source: @tattoosbymell via Instagram
Quote Cross Stitch Tattoo Evakrbdk
Source: @evakrbdk via Instagram

Inspirational quotes often help people get through difficult times in their lives; other phrases can bring a smile to your face at any time of the day. For these reasons and more, many people choose to get designs that incorporate script to cut through ambiguity and create interesting tattoos.  

The effect created when applying a motivational quote using a cross stitch pattern can provide a person with a permanent reminder to keep moving and never give up. Conversely, when a funny and slightly obscene phrase is applied using cross stitching a script tattoo is sure to generate smiles and get laughs for years to come. These script work tattoos are just a taste of what is possible with a clever concept and this popular approach to tattoo design.   

8. The Neo Tribal Approach

Tribal Cross Stitch Tattoo Alberto Rojo Tecolotl
Source: @alberto_rojo_tecolotl via Instagram
Tribal Cross Stitch Tattoo Idamariatattoo
Source: @idamariatattoo via Instagram
Tribal Cross Stitch Tattoo Zombiebellabug
Source: @zombiebellabug via Instagram
Tribal Cross Stitch Tattoo Lalavtattoo
Source: @lalavtattoo via Instagram

Tribal tattoo design has been around for millennia but in the world of modern tattooing what is considered tribal continues to evolve and nothing can demonstrate this conceptual drift better than these tribal cross stitch tattoos. 

Drawing inspiration from a number of cultural traditions, these cross stich tattoos perfectly capture the tribal aesthetic through the use of embroidery tattoo techniques.  

In color or black and gray, elaborate or simple, these tribal cross stitch tattoos demonstrate the endless creative potential for tattoo design.

9. Unique

Unique Cross Stitch Tattoo Evakrbdk
Source: @evakrbdk via Instagram
Unique Cross Stitch Tattoo Evakrbdk 2
Source: @evakrbdk via Instagram
Unique Cross Stitch Tattoo Evakrbdk 3
Source: @evakrbdk via Instagram

Tattoos are powerful tools for self-expression and for some people having a one of a kind tattoo is the only option. The relative newness of cross stitch tattoos in the world of body art means that this approach is especially conducive to creating unique tattoos that have never been seen before. The cross stitch tattoos in this collection demonstrate the opportunity for distinct designs that this approach provides: from giant whales to tiny cars, any number of subjects can be utilized in embroidery tattoos. 

Cross Stitch Tattoo FAQs 

What is a cross stitch tattoo? 

Cross stitch tattoos use ink to recreate the effect of this ancient embroidery technique and they are becoming more and more popular. Just as actual cross stitch embroidery uses evenly measured distances to apply thread, this approach to tattoos uses a grid-like pattern to ensure that ink is placed consistently.  

Besides the even spacing, the defining characteristic of this approach is the stitch shape and by imitating the stitching itself a tattoo artist is able to accurately produce the effect of cross stitch designs on the wearer’s skin. Hundreds of tiny X-shaped stitches are used to produce the designs and a tattoo artist uses this same approach when applying the ink.  

When completed, cross stitch tattoos are impressive thanks to the meticulous and precise nature of the design and application process.  

What is the difference between a cross stitch tattoo and an embroidery tattoo?  

Technically, a cross stich tattoo is an embroidery tattoo as cross stitching is a form of counted-thread embroidery, but when people refer to an embroidery tattoo they are usually thinking of a piece that uses a different style of stitching.  

Crewelwork and the satin stitch are other forms of embroidery that have also inspired tattoo design. While cross stitch uses an X-shaped stitch pattern, satin stitch work uses tightly packed, parallel stitches to produce designs and is often the process used for making patches. Crewel work refers to an embroidery process using larger wool thread that is distinct from other styles.  

The long history of embroidery means that there is an endless collection of designs to draw inspiration from for your next tattoo.  

Also, should you like an idea but wish to test it out before committing to permanent ink, the temporary tattoo dimension can be explored. Temporary tattoo can be useful if you’re looking to get inked in visible areas, or if your design choice needs a thorough test run.

What do cross stitch tattoos mean? 

A cross stitch approach to tattoo design is great because of the different designs and scenes that can be produced using this technique: everything from portraits of pets to alpine scenes from The Sound of Music can be created in a cross stitch tattoo.  

However, in many ways for cross stitch tattoos the technique is just as important as the subject matter. People with a cross stitch tattoo usually have some connection with this embroidery technique; maybe their mother taught them how to cross stitch as a child, or perhaps their grandma used to decorate her table cloths with cross stitch patterns.  

For these reasons many people choose cross stitch tattoos to commemorate the family and loved ones that shape their lives in ways other than a photo or video. The distinct look of this technique ensures that everyone who sees the piece will understand the significance of this embroidery style to the wearer.  

Did you enjoy these unique, beautiful high quality tattoos? Click on the links below for galleries to provide you with inspiration for your next tattoo: