Apocalypse Princesses (Fowler) by Paine Free Crafts

For today’s Art-to-Stitch Wednesday we have a wonderful re-imagining of some familiar faces and another giveaway! OMG I forgot the giveaway. adding that now!

Paine Free Crafts - Apocalypse Princesses Cover

From the Artist

There have been so many widespread visceral responses to “Apocalypse Princesses”. I’ve heard gripes about me putting Mulan in the wrong attire, bitching about the corsets and feminine clothing, and even one rant about how it’s not the Apocalypse if it doesn’t look like a Mad Max movie.

I warned people they wouldn’t like my take on the Disney princesses. Each and every one of those princesses in their respective movies were sexual. I don’t care how you want to skew it. They dripped with sex. With their tight little outfits, and their pouty lips and their big doe eyes. They were all fantasies. (Yes even Mulan so you shut up too) Be it by the symbolism of their situations, or the actual physical attributes they were given, they were colorful representations of females in male dominated worlds.

I drew them still clad in the colorful symbolism they were created in. But I turned it on it’s ear. Behind every one of them is evidence that she’s on her own, and that her male love interest has either died, is missing, or has been murdered in a couple of cases. They are recognizable because of the colors and costumes they still wear. But evidence of the changes are very much present. They took what was at hand, and used it. Some have changed a lot. Some not so much.

You’re looking at the demise of their perfect happily ever after storylines. THAT is the Apocalypse.

Get it?

Yeah…you thought it was just a bunch of boobies, huh?

Cinderella is the Ghost. I imagine her out on the dunes, lost and a little sad. Snow is the Poisons Expert, hence the shrunken dwarf heads. They were an experiment that went awry. Tink has a St Christopher statue tied to her wings. I imagine her being the aerial assault. And her wings are held together with duct tape. Wendy is the leader. She has a thimble around her neck. And a croc tattoo. Esmeralda has a Djali goat embroidery on her vest. And sunbursts on the front of her vest. She’s the thief, of course. Ariel is mutated by toxic waste, as is Flounder. Her jewelry is made of shells and sea trash. Alice is the explosives expert. Aurora is the Dragonslayer celebrating with a cigarette and champagne. Belle killed the beast. Hence the skull and half breed baby…and necklace of teeth. Jasmine is her father’s personal bodyguard. Hence the tiger death mask. Mulan is the assassin.

Most of their male counterparts ended up unable to survive. Or left them alone.

Cinderella escaped the castle, where her prince was hell bent on leading his people to devastation. Then he was overthrown and murdered in the midst of the impending chaos. Snow took her fated poisoning and turned it around by learning the trade. Who needs saving, or protection, when you can avoid the danger, and use it to your advantage? Tink does for herself, using her skills to fight the pirates. Wendy took leadership when Pan was gone. Esmeralda took to the streets when her soldier love left her (remember the book?) Ariel went back to the water when her prince was murdered. Sleeping Beauty had to slay her own dragon. Belle’s obviously been raped and imprisoned. (See the baby?) She killed her tormenter. But she kept the child. Jasmine protects her father now that her hapless husband was killed in the war. She kept his monkey, though. Mulan to me is the pansexual. She is an assassin, and utilizes everything at her disposal. And she LIKES it. Alice is the perpetual child, hell bent on the magic of destruction.

Apocalypse princesses - mock up of stitched design
Apocalypse princesses – mock up of stitched design

What is it?

Apocalypse Princesses is a drawing by Tess Fowler, digitally coloured. It has been translated into cross stitch by Sarah Paine of Paine Free Crafts.

Note: Please respect our artists. Your work will be a labour of love for months and years to come. Buy from reputable designers such as those reviewed on this site. They support the artists who produce the original works. By buying cheap art-to-stitch designs, you are likely buying from a designer who is not paying royalties or licensing and the chart is likely to be low quality. Without support, our artists cannot thrive. Your time, and theirs are worth more.

Why this chart?

I love alternative history and re-imaginings of familiar fictional characters. Yes I love Steampunk, diesel punk, cyber punk, dystopian futures and Gothic histories. I love anything that plays with the familiar.

I love Apocalypse Princesses specifically because of the detail in each character, the small items of familiarity in a very unfamiliar image.  Cinderella’s pumpkin hairpiece, the teddy bear near Wendy, the  shapes of Alice’s bottles.  Seriously, have a look at the high-definition original artwork and just pore over those details.

The majority of art-to-stitch designs are fully stitched, in that the background is treated as part of the picture so every square is stitched. In this design, some of the Princesses step out of the border in this piece so the ground fabric can be seen.  This is a great design to show off some hand dyed fabrics rathan than that white edging.

Apocalypse Princesses is technically a simple design as it only uses whole cross stitch.  However this is a very large chart, so focus on the journey and not the completion.  Watch and delight as each detail emerges from under your needle.

As this design was digitally coloured, there is an almost cartoon-like effect of separate bright bold colours; it does not have the imperceptible shading of a realistic painting. Thus, the design is easier to stitch; there are ebbs and flows of single colours taking you between the intricate details.  This is a design that leads you from one element to the next.

If you like this design, but think that it might be a little too daunting, Sarah does offer some of the Princesses individually, such as Tink.

Paine Free Crafts Apocalypse Princesses Tink
Paine Free Crafts
Apocalypse Princesses Tink


Paine Free Crafts designs are available as Digital PDF files, printed charts and full kits. I have the digital download in PDF form.

The chart file includes:

  • Front cover page, with computer mockup of the design (not the original artwork), links to the artist’s pages, stitch count and size on 25count evenweave. I love that Sarah has included embedded links to the artist’s website, Facebook page and DeviantArt page.
  • A page of chart instructions for stitching any Paine Free Crafts art-to-stitch design.
  • The 64 page chart, gridded in 5 x 5 (rather than the usual 10 x 10). Each page has a small diagram on the bottom left corner of the page showing where that page fits within the over design.
  • Two pages of floss list and key legend.  I like that Sarah includes a tiny picture of the floss colour, and full colour name as well as the usual DMC floss colour.  This makes it so much easier to dig through the floss stash looking for that elusive skein.
  • Two page floss usage list; this includes the number of stitches as well as the skein amounts.  If you change from the recommended two threads on 25 count fabric, the number of stitches can help you identify how much of each floss colour you need.

As is usual with art-to-stitch designs, you have to open the pack to see what floss is needed to stitch this work of art.  The website does not even list this information. However Paine Free Crafts does offer a kitting service, so you can buy the kit if you want to stitch it immediately. Kits are available in a variety of fabrics with the floss amounts changed accordingly.

Edit: According to Sarah, she does not include the floss list on the website or in the kits to prevent copyright theft.

  • The kits go out without a DMC colour key (but fully sorted threads on organisers, with symbols on). The kit charts are not watermarked.
  • The PDF and printed charts are watermarked, with floss list and floss key , however the floss key is different to that of the kits.

This is all done so someone cannot copy and upload an unmarked chart from the kit along with the floss list/key from a chart or her website, as the symbols will not match.

The chart is provided using black symbols on white pages.  The grid-work is large in that it only uses 62 x 82 stitches per page. This is easy to see and stitch from, without the need to enlarge. if you stitch from paper, I would print these pages on the best setting.  A couple of the symbols, notably the flower head, heave a tendency to print very light.

Each subsequent page has a two-row overlap which combined with the obvious 5 x 5 gridlines really help to keep your place and as a great aid to those who stitch using the parking method.

My Experience

Helen White – Chart is very easy to read. I started out with a printed chart but have converted to tablet apps now but it was very easy to read. It is an easy stitch too, I love watching the details appear before me. I get so immersed in stitching then I stop for a few minutes and look at it and there is a face appearing. Absolutely love it. I found the original image too and posted it on Sarah’s wall. She had the contract signed and chart created in less than 72 hours if I remember correctly.

Helen White's Work in Progress Stitching 2 x 1 on 25 count Photo and stitching courtesy of Helen White
Helen White’s Work in Progress
Stitching 2 x 1 on 25 count
Photo and stitching courtesy of Helen White


Kim Nield – Sarah’s great with questions, queries, etc. Love stitching the project, lovely clear chart and the detail stitches up beautifully!

Kim Nield's Work in Progress Photo and stitching courtesy of Kim Nield
Kim Nield’s Work in Progress
Photo and stitching courtesy of Kim Nield


Nikki Howe – I find her charts are easy to follow and the fact there is no back stitching is a bonus. Stitching apocalypse princesses on 25ct 1×1 full crosses. I have another four or five of hers on the go too including Life and Death.

Nikki Howe's Work in Progress Stitching 1 x 1 on 25 count Photo and stitching courtesy of Nikki Howe
Nikki Howe’s Work in Progress
Stitching 1 x 1 on 25 count
Photo and stitching courtesy of Nikki Howe


Jenn Bell – Paine Free Crafts charts are clear, concise and easy to follow. The colours are vibrant and I love that I can easily see the design come to fruition stitch by stitch, page to page.

Jenn Bell’s Work in Progress Photo and stitching courtesy of Jenn Bell
Jenn Bell’s Work in Progress
Photo and stitching courtesy of Jenn Bell

Materials Required

To stitch the charts exactly as designed (2 strands of floss over one thread on 25 count fabric), you will need:

1 skein each DMC 151, 158, 223, 224, 311, 318, 327, 334, 347, 350, 356, 400, 407, 414, 415, 519, 520, 597, 612, 644, 701, 730, 800, 807, 809, 813, 814, 815, 826, 833, 912, 924, 928, 950, 954, 964, 966, 989, 993, 3023, 3033, 3041, 3046, 3047, 3064, 3078, 3348, 3350, 3363, 3371, 3689, 3708, 3716, 3733, 3746, 3747, 3761, 3766, 3772, 3799, 3801, 3814, 3820, 3836, 3842, 3846.

2 skeins each DMC 312, 317, 420, 451, 640, 648, 677, 747, 898, 939, 945, 3787, 3815, 3822, 3823, 3856, 3860, 3861, 3863, 3864, 3866.

3 skeins each DMC 535, 934, 951.

4 skeins DMC 931 Blue Grey

13 skeins DMC 3895 Winter White (for background)

14 skeins DMC 310 Black

25 count Evenweave or Magic Guide fabric  (stitch count 455 x 596). Stitched  one over one with the a 3″ border allowance, fabric size needed is:  24¼″x 30″ or 62 x 76cm  or a medium pack of 25ct Magic Guide (30 x 39″)  or normal fabric’s fat half  (27″ x 36″).

Magic Guide - 25ct White
Magic Guide – 25ct White


For 14ct Aida or 28ct evenweave (with 3″ border allowance) fabric size is: 39” x 49”  or  98 x 124cm or  a large pack of 14ct Magic Guide (39 x 60″)  or a normal fabric larger than a yard – specialty cut (39″ x 49″).

Approximate cost for Project

Approximate cost to stitch Apocalypse Princesses using the recommended materials (prices are in $US, at recommended retail and do  not include postage):

Chart: $16.90 (PDF)
Floss:  $ 66.60
Fabric: $19.80

Total: $103.25  ($192.55 AUD or €178.70  or  £152.70)

Places to Buy

Paine Free Crafts sells digital charts, printed charts and kits worldwide. The kits prices direct from Paine Free Crafts are cheaper than buying the individual pieces from your Local Needlework Shop because they only include the cut of fabric and the amount of floss you need instead of a full fat half and full skeins of floss.


Colours Down Under has all the threads and a variety of plain fabrics in stock.

Colour Cascade Fabrics “quite a few people have chosen Welcome to the Jungle for this chart, I think a few have even chosen Rocket Queen as they wanted a bright border” Tammy offers a 15% discount for readers of this site. Code is: CSReview. Offer ends 27 February 2015.


Casa Cenina in Italy  stock a variety of fabrics and floss for your unique creation.

United Kingdom:

SewandSo has all the recommended materials currently in stock waiting for you.

Crafty Kitten “I’d probably go something parchmenty, as it’s so solidly stitched an intricate hand dyed is a bit of a waste. Oatmeal would probably be my go to colour for it, or maybe Jurassic sands (assuming it’s stitched over 1 so you’re not going to want a dark colour)”

Polstitches has a range of hand dyed sampler fabrics for you to make this design unique.

Sparklies “As long as the white in the pattern is stitched then something striking would look good with this, such as Purple Haze or Triton, or for a more moody look how about Maelstrom.”

Chromatic Alchemy  “The sassy apocalypse princesses are very cool…lots of colours work with this design as the piece itself has a range of colours that the fabric border can pick up on…ultimately I think the choice of mat and frame would sway any final decision.”

United States:

123Stitch has the thread in stock and offers a variety of fabrics.

Stitches n Things has the recommended materials in stock to kit this up for you.

Under the Sea Fabrics ” For Apocalypse Princesses, I suggest Looking Glass. It will be pretty on with the design and the cool color is easy on the eyes when you’re doing fully stitched pieces.”


Sarah Paine has kindly offered one free Paine Free Crafts chart of your choice.  To enter simply comment on this post.

Contest is open to anywhere in the world. Whilst we love comments and sharing via social media, only comments on this post will be eligible for entry.

Mel will use her trusty digital magic eight ball to decide the lucky Cross Stitch Review reader and then contact the winner and Sarah.

Contest closes FOUR weeks from Publish; midday, 4 Feb 2014, Melbourne, Australia time (UTC+11 hours).


Did you like this review? Did it contain all the expected information? Is there anything you would like added or removed from the reviews? Do you know of a particular chart or designer you want to see featured here? If so, please head to the Suggestions page and let me know.


Last Updated: 8 January 2015


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