Designers Sylvia and Daniel Janssen were inspired by some display type in a brochure that was designed by a friend's father in 1962. He use old stiches and historical engravings in his designs, and developed a typeface by coloring antique cross-stitch patterns.

Sylvia and Daniel took the few characters from the page and developed a full character set called Gretel Smooth. They then expanded on this design tocreate Gretel Crisp and Gretel Strong.