Blog Page
5 Basics for Beginners to Learn About Needlepoint!

5 Basics for Beginners to Learn About Needlepoint!

Needlepoint has always been a creative outlet offering a satisfying, soothing, and empowering experience for gurus and novices alike. Over the past few years, more and more new stitchers have discovered stitching is quite a relaxing, meditative hobby, and the ability to create something out of nothing is especially rewarding.

If you're ready to dive into the wonderful world of needlepoint and uncover the benefits for yourself, here are five basics for beginners to learn about needlepoint to get started.  At Needlepoint.com, we love to share the joy of stitching and are happy to help you along your stitching journey!

Needlepoint Supplies and Tools

To get started, you’ll need the following essential needlepoint supplies:

  • Handpainted or precision printed canvas (explore our Needlepoint To Go line for affordable, high quality stitch printed canvases)
  • Thread that you enjoy working with. There are many options available in cotton, wool, silk and man-made fibers.
  • Tapestry needle (provided with every canvas at Needlepoint.com)
  • Small extra-sharp scissors
  • Project bag to hold all your supplies and keep your canvas and thread protected

Optional:

  • Needle threader
  • Stretcher bars/tacks to secure the canvas (these are optional, but recommended to start)
  • Stitch guide/instructions
  • Laying tool
  • Needleminder/Magnet 
Canvas, Needles & Thread Defined
Canvas:  Canvases come in different mesh sizes that correspond to the number of stitches (holes) per inch.  Most common are 10 count, 13 count, 14 count and 18 count mesh.   18 count canvases convey a lot of detail while the larger mesh canvases offer a quicker stitch.  (It’s always easy to search our website by mesh count!)
Different Canvas Types
Pro Tip:  We recommend starting with a larger mesh count, small number of colors with little or no shading, and a simple design.  Choose something you really love so you’ll be motivated to stitch!
Tapestry Needles:  As with canvases, needles come in different sizes (length and size of the eye) to correlate to the canvas.  Use #20 needles for 13 mesh canvas and #22 for 18 mesh canvas (needles are supplied with every canvas at Needlepoint.com).
Single strand versus plied threads
Thread:  The selection of fibers is seemingly endless, but as with canvas and needles, certain threads correspond to specific mesh size canvases for coverage and stitchability.  The basic categories of threads are silk, wool, cotton and specialty fibers. Threads provide a fun way to create different effects on your canvas (fuzzy fibers for animals, sparkly fibers for crowns, shiny fibers for glass, etc.).  Thread selection will also depend on how you plan to finish your needlepoint as each fiber has varying durability. Ornaments that receive little handling can be stitched in sparkles and more fragile threads. Pillows and belts that will be handled and worn often, should be stitched in wool or cotton for maximum durability.
 
Working with Thread Tips
 
You’ve selected your canvas, have a needle and scissors, and are ready to begin stitching.  Let’s start how to work with your thread:
How to open and cut a skein of yarn:  Thread either comes on a card or in a skein, which is a twisted loop of yarn.  To open the skein, cut the knot at the bottom of the tag, which is often placed at the top of the twisted loop.  (This is helpful as it leaves a little yarn on the tag so you’ll be able to match the color with the name, type, number and dye lot in the future.)  Unwind and gently pull the skein apart so it is one large loop of yarn.  Cut through all of the threads at the top and bottom of this loop and you’ll have appropriately sized lengths of thread to stitch with.  To store your thread, gather the cut thread in one group and knot loosely.
How long to cut your thread:  If working with a skein, use the method above to yield the appropriate length to stitch with.  If your thread is on a card, cut a piece approximately 18” long or the length from your finger to your elbow.  When using specialty fibers such as velvet or metallics, work with shorter lengths of 6 to 8 inches to prevent fraying. 
Strand v. Ply:  When separating thread from a skein or a card, the single piece you cut is a strand.  Some fibers have strands that are made up of individual plys of thread, such as DMC floss or Splendor silk.  If the thread comes in plys, refer to our helpful “Thread Information” sheet to help you select the appropriate number of plys for your canvas. This information sheet is included with every canvas you ask us to kit. If you purchase a kitted project that includes a stitch guide, the thread and ply information will be included in the stitch guide. It is important to separate each ply and put them back together before stitching to help the thread lay flat and stitch in smoothly.  If your thread comes in a single strand and can not be plied (e.g. Silk & Ivory, Vineyard Silk, DMC Perle Cotton), you’re ready to thread your needle and stitch!

    Let’s Stitch!

    Threading your needle by folding your thread in half

    Threading your needle:  The easiest way is to fold the thread in half and push the fold through the eye of the needle. Some stitchers prefer to work with a needle threader and you can add one to your order if you find that method more convenient.

    Creating a waste knot and stitching towards it on blank canvas

    Creating a waste knot:  Tie a small knot at the end of the thread opposite the needle.  About an inch from where you wish to begin, pull your needle down into the canvas from the front so the waste knot sits on top of the canvas.  Put your first stitch in and continue stitching toward the knot. You will be stitching over the tail on the back of the canvas thereby securing the thread underneath. When you reach the knot, simply cut it off and continue stitching.

    Where to start/stop on the canvas:  Start in an area large enough to get comfortable with your stitch, like the background.  If you’re right-handed, start in the upper right-hand corner of the canvas as the tent stitch (detailed below) will work across and down or on a downward diagonal.  If you’re left-handed, start in the lower left-hand corner.  To end your thread, flip the canvas over while the needle and thread are on the back.  Run the needle through several stitches to secure the thread and trim the excess.

    The Basic Needlepoint Stitch: Tent Stitch

    The most traditional stitch that beginners should learn is the tent stitch. Tent stitches are small, diagonal stitches most commonly used in needlepoint and are ideal for capturing details on a canvas.  The two tent stitches we recommend learning are continental and basketweave.  These stitches look the same on the front of the canvas, but appear different on the back.

    Tent Stitch & Reverse Tent Stitch Diagram

    The Continental Stitch

    Working a tent stitch in a continental manner—back and forth in rows—creates an equally padded reverse side. Many consider this stitch the most versatile and durable option. Yet, needlepoint beginners should keep the stitch tension even to provide the best coverage in outlines and fine details. Use in larger areas can end up warping the canvas if not cautious.

    Basketweave Stitch Diagram

    The Basketweave Stitch

    Basketweave is worked in neat diagonal rows and is ideal for larger background areas. This stitch will create a strong woven backing that resembles a basket while providing good coverage and minimal canvas warp. 

    Bonus:  Pro Tips

    • Stitch the lighter colors in your project first. This prevents the darker colors from being pulled through and rubbing off or creating shadows on the light thread.
    • Needlepoint is similar to a paint-by-numbers set, but with thread instead of paint.  You stitch the thread exactly where the color appears on the canvas. 
    • Save your thread labels!  Keep the thread card/tag with the fiber so you know the color, number and dye lot in case you need more. If you have leftover thread, you can use the remainder for a future project.  Keep your threads tidy in bags or small boxes so they don’t become a tangled mess.
    • When the canvas is complete, hold your project up to the light to check for missed stitches. Fill in where needed before you have your piece professionally finished.
    • When it’s ready for professional finishing, send your piece back to Needlepoint.Com and we’ll have one of our experts turn it into the ornament, pillow, belt, purse, or other item that you’re dreaming of. 
    • Needlepoint is meant to be fun and relaxing, so remember to enjoy yourself!

    Shop Online for Your Next Project

    Check out our “How to Needlepoint” online class along with our large selection of needlepoint kits that have everything you need to start stitching (except the optional extras listed above).  When you’re ready to expand your stitch repertoire, look to our “Introduction to Decorative Stitches” online class and learn 15 new stitches.  Be sure to explore our cutting-edge Needlepoint To Go line, which offers a variety of beautiful designs for novice and experienced stitchers alike.  Happy Stitching!

    Latest Blog Posts

    Welcome to the New Needlepoint.Com!

    Welcome to the New Needlepoint.Com!

    Welcome to the new Needlepoint.Com website! We have completely redesigned our online store and added new features to give you the best shopping experience and educational support.

    Needlepoint To Go Learning Series-Lace Stitch

    Needlepoint To Go Learning Series-Lace Stitch

    Welcome to our Summer series of stitches where owner and expert, Nancy Young walks you through the most popular stitches in our Needlepoint To Go kits!  This video shows you the...

    Needlepoint To Go Learning Series-Alicia's Lace

    Needlepoint To Go Learning Series-Alicia's Lace

    Welcome to our Summer series of stitches where owner and expert, Nancy Young walks you through the most popular stitches in our Needlepoint To Go kits!  This video shows you the Alicia's...

    Hearts for Hospice & Needlepoint.Com Charleston!

    Hearts for Hospice & Needlepoint.Com Charleston!

    There has been a great resurgence in the popularity of needlepoint. The Charleston location has an endearing tradition of allowing customers to design and stitch heart-shaped canvases that are donated...

    Needlepoint To Go Learning Series-Knitting Stitch

    Needlepoint To Go Learning Series-Knitting Stitch

    Welcome to our Summer series of stitches where owner and expert, Nancy Young walks you through the most popular stitches in our Needlepoint To Go kits!  This video shows you the Knitting stitch...

    Why You Need To Know the Criss Cross Hungarian Stitch Today

    Why You Need To Know the Criss Cross Hungarian ...

    The criss cross Hungarian stitch creates a highly decorative and dynamic needlepoint design. Uncover why you need to know it and learn more about this stitch today!

    A Quick Guide to Self-Finishing Your Needlepoint Canvas

    A Quick Guide to Self-Finishing Your Needlepoin...

    Self-finishing needlepoint projects can be a creative but tricky process. Uncover further details in our quick guide to finishing your needlepoint canvas.

    Check out how we pick our Add on Threads!

    Check out how we pick our Add on Threads!

    Ever wonder what our different "Add on Threads" option on the website means? Check out this helpful video to show the different types of threads in each category and how...

    Personalized Needlepoint Projects: 5 Gift Ideas To Make

    Personalized Needlepoint Projects: 5 Gift Ideas...

    Uncover personalized needlepoint projects to see which are the best gift ideas to make for friends and family. Get your presents ready in time for Christmas.

    Needlepoint for Kids: Showing Your Kids How To Needlepoint

    Needlepoint for Kids: Showing Your Kids How To ...

    Uncover needlepoint for kids and learn why showing your kids how to needlepoint is simple and fun. Introduce them to a hobby they’ll love forever.

    How To Select the Right Canvas for Needlepoint

    How To Select the Right Canvas for Needlepoint

    Find out how to select the right canvas for needlepoint no matter which project you want to complete. Use these tips and tricks to choose the correct canvas.

    Needlepoint To Go Learning Series-Dot Stitch

    Needlepoint To Go Learning Series-Dot Stitch

    Welcome to our Summer series of stitches where owner and expert, Nancy Young walks you through the most popular stitches in our Needlepoint To Go kits! 

    Needlepoint To Go Learning Series-Jessica Stitch

    Needlepoint To Go Learning Series-Jessica Stitch

    Welcome to our Summer series of stitches where owner and expert, Nancy Young walks you through the most popular stitches in our Needlepoint To Go kits! 

    Needlepoint To Go Learning Series-French Knots

    Needlepoint To Go Learning Series-French Knots

    Welcome to our Summer series of stitches where owner and expert Nancy Young walks you through the most popular stitches in our Needlepoint To Go kits!  This video illustrates variations on the...

    5 Basics for Beginners to Learn About Needlepoint!

    5 Basics for Beginners to Learn About Needlepoint!

    Canvases come in different mesh sizes that correspond to the number of stitches (holes) per inch.  Most common are 10 count, 13 count, 14 count and 18 count mesh.  ...

    Threads for your favorite teams!

    Threads for your favorite teams!

    March Madness-The Big Dance is upon us and it’s time to pick your basketball tournament stitching project. Seasoned sports watchers know, stitching is a fantastic stress reliever for all of...

    Top 5 Finishing Questions

    Top 5 Finishing Questions

    In this blog post we go over the top 5 Finishing questions from our customers to give you a bit more detail on how our process works!

    Pick Our Favorite Threads

    Pick Our Favorite Threads

    When you are shopping for a canvas on our website, you will notice an option to pick threads. The choices are Silk/Silk Blends, Cotton, Wool/Wool Blends or Pick Our Favorites....

    When you should use Sparkly Threads!

    When you should use Sparkly Threads!

    Incorporating Sparkly Threads in your Canvas -Sparkle and metallic specialty threads offer a great opportunity to add some pizzazz to your next canvas.  There are many wonderful options to choose...

    Needlepoint Stitches: Basic Stitches for Beginners

    Needlepoint Stitches: Basic Stitches for Beginners

    The basic needlepoint stitches for beginners are simple to learn. Don’t hesitate to try this fun and exciting hobby that’s starting to trend again.

    Behind The Scenes At Needlepoint.Com: Content Creation

    Behind The Scenes At Needlepoint.Com: Content C...

    Hello! My name is Katy, and I am the Graphic Designer & Product Stylist at Needlepoint.Com. In fact, you see me weekly in your inboxes - our email marketing is...

    3 Common Needlepoint Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

    3 Common Needlepoint Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

    Uncover the most common needlepoint mistakes and how to avoid them. Be aware of ways that your needlepoint projects can become distorted and damaged.

    How To Incorporate Needlepoint in Your Home Décor

    How To Incorporate Needlepoint in Your Home Décor

    Find out how to incorporate needlepoint in your home décor and display your hard work. You can include needlepoint in every aspect of your life.

    What To Bring to a Needlepoint Retreat: Beginner’s Guide

    What To Bring to a Needlepoint Retreat: Beginne...

    Find out what to bring to a needlepoint retreat. This beginner’s guide to needlepoint retreats will help you figure out your first stitching experience.

    Needlepoint Kits: What They Include & Their Benefits

    Needlepoint Kits: What They Include & Their Ben...

    You’re never too old—or young—to get started with needlepoint. If you’re a beginner, starting with a kit will take the guesswork out of completing a project. Knowing what needlepoint kits...

    New from Elizabeth Bradley Designs!

    New from Elizabeth Bradley Designs!

    The Elizabeth Bradley collection of designs is growing with the addition of seven Starter Kits, four Millefleur Kits and a Tips and Techniques Video that you can access anytime at...

    All about our Online Classes!

    All about our Online Classes!

    If you’re new to needlepoint or you’re a visual learner looking to explore new stitches, our online classes are perfect for you. Here’s a few things you need to know…

    Differences Between Needlepoint, Cross-Stitch, and Embroidery

    Differences Between Needlepoint, Cross-Stitch, ...

    Know the differences between needlepoint, cross-stitch, and embroidery. You can start a new hobby anytime you want with the right knowledge.

    Cleaning Your Needlepoint: 3 Tips Every Stitcher Should Know

    Cleaning Your Needlepoint: 3 Tips Every Stitche...

    The key to cleaning your needlepoint tapestry kits is to follow these three tips every stitcher should know. Find out how to clean your needlepoint from home.

    A Brief Overview of Needlepoint: What You Should Know

    A Brief Overview of Needlepoint: What You Shoul...

    Discover a brief overview of needlepoint and what you should know to begin this craft. You don’t need many supplies to try your hand at needlepoint.

    New to Needlepoint: A Quick Guide To Getting Started

    New to Needlepoint: A Quick Guide To Getting St...

    If you are new to needlepoint, a quick guide to getting started will teach you everything you need to know. Uncover the basics about how to do needlepoint.

    Creative Wellness: The Health Benefits of Needlepoint

    Creative Wellness: The Health Benefits of Needl...

    Enjoy the health benefits of needlepoint when you find a group of stitchers: learn new skills and share your art. Find out why needlepoint is good for you.

    Tips & Tricks of Compensating Stitches

    Tips & Tricks of Compensating Stitches

    When you incorporate decorative stitches into your project, there will almost always be a spot where you cannot complete the entire stitch. When this happens, you will need to compensate,...

    Millennial Needlepoint: 3 on-Point Projects for 2021

    Millennial Needlepoint: 3 on-Point Projects for...

    Discover millennial needlepoint: three on-point projects for 2021 you should try. Spice up your home and wardrobe with these trendy needlepoint projects.

    All about our Instagram Stitch Alongs!

    All about our Instagram Stitch Alongs!

    At Needlepoint.Com we strive to keep the needlepoint community connected as best we can! For the past 5 years now we have bee doing our “Sunday Stitch Along '' as...

    The Anatomy of a Kit!

    The Anatomy of a Kit!

    The world of needlepoint is full of thousands of canvases, multiple thread lines, assorted beads, helpful accessories, and curated kits. These kits are designed to remove all guesswork and create...

    The Benefits to Buying Canvases with Stitch Guides!

    The Benefits to Buying Canvases with Stitch Gui...

    When you choose a needlepoint canvas, you probably imagine what it will look like completely stitched. Some people like to experiment with stitches as they go, while others like to...

    Go Big or Go Small… Needlepoint To Go has the right sized project for you!

    Go Big or Go Small… Needlepoint To Go has the r...

    The Needlepoint To Go line of kits is expanding this month with five more designs coming out just in time for beach and poolside stitching. You’ll enjoy these precision stitch printed canvases...

    A look inside Needlepoint.Com!

    A look inside Needlepoint.Com!

    Like many people who used the past year to clean out closets, we spent some time improving the shop . The most notable change is the drastic increase of our...

    All about the Merry Wishes Tree

    All about the Merry Wishes Tree

    The Merry Wishes Tree is a spectacular example of the artistic collaboration between Vernon Kirk and Nancy Young. Vernon, of Kirk and Bradley Design, and Nancy of Needlepoint.Com, have been...

    The story behind the Kirk & Bradley Travel Rounds!

    The story behind the Kirk & Bradley Travel Rounds!

    You may be familiar with one of our favorite lines from designer Kirk & Bradley, the travel rounds!  Their design team formulated this idea back in 2015. Debuting with Rome, Paris,...

    New Needlepoint To Go-Gambit Chess Board Colors!

    New Needlepoint To Go-Gambit Chess Board Colors!

    Many new and seasoned stitchers made it a goal in 2020 to stitch 20 new projects. While we were all stitching the days away in the comfort of our home,...

    Pantone Color of the Year!

    Pantone Color of the Year!

    Pantone is breaking the norm for a second time by choosing a color combination for its Color of the Year. Ultimate Gray and Illuminating will both be taking the esteemed...

    2020 at Needlepoint.Com!

    2020 at Needlepoint.Com!

    ...Since the painters are having trouble keeping up with demand, we pushed our tech team to perfect a stitch-printing service that had been in the works for five years. Working...

    Meet Kelly- the artist behind Alice and Blue

    Meet Kelly- the artist behind Alice and Blue

    Meet Kelly- the artist behind Alice and Blue. We are fortunate enough to have her designs for a trunk show this month at Needlepoint.Com. Click here to view her collection and...

    A guide to our free resources!

    A guide to our free resources!

    Whether you are a lifelong stitcher or just starting on your needlepoint journey, there is something for everyone at Needlepoint.Com. When you buy a new project, it is important to...

    All about Needlepoint To Go!

    All about Needlepoint To Go!

    Needlepoint.Com is thrilled to introduce our brand new kit line, Needlepoint To Go.  This beautiful and affordable collection is available exclusively at Needlepoint.Com.

    The must have stand for the new year!

    The must have stand for the new year!

    The System 4 stand series are a must have for any needlepointer! They are without a doubt the highest quality stands on the market. We can’t get enough of them...

    Mary’s Whimsical Stitches-Volume Two

    Mary’s Whimsical Stitches-Volume Two

    Mary Legallet's newest book "Mary's Whimsical Stitches Volume Two" is now available! You may remember when we had the opportunity to speak to her earlier this year when Volume One...

    Metallic Scissors-Why you need a pair!

    Metallic Scissors-Why you need a pair!

    Have you ever struggled when over time your embroidery scissors begin to dull? It may be because you are using the same pair of scissors to cut your natural fibers...