Learn How to Needlepoint

Watch our five-minute video on how to needlepoint below


How To Needlepoint

1. Cut Your Thread

Cut a strand from the skein of thread. We suggest cutting your thread so that it is the length of your finger to your elbow - or no longer than 18".

2. Thread Your Needle

To thread your needle, fold the thread over the needle in between your thumb and index finger. Pinch the end of your thread so that it is folded over onto itself. Remove the needle from between the thread. Take the folded thread and push it through the eye of the needle.

Another option is to push the end of the thread through the eye of the needle. If the end of the thread has frayed, twist it to make it tighter and eliminate the fray (or trim the end with scissors) before pushing it into the eye of the needle.

3. Starting Your Threads

Tie a knot in the end of the thread farthest from the eye of the needle. This is called a “waste knot.” Place the waste knot on top of the canvas by sinking your needle down into the canvas from front to back, roughly an inch away from where you plan to start stitching within the same color area.

Begin stitching, using one of the recommended stitches show below. You will stitch over the "tail" of the waste knot (the thread on the back of the canvas) and this will lock your thread to the canvas.

Once you have stitched up to the waste knot, cut the knot off the front of the canvas. Be careful not to cut the canvas itself!

4. Ending Your Thread

Once you have finished stitching a particular area, or your thread has become too short, you will need to end your thread.

Flip your canvas over so that you are looking at the back. With the needle and thread on the back of the canvas, run your needle through the previously placed stitches. Trim off the excess thread with embroidery scissors.

5. Starting Another Thread

Once you have a substantial area of canvas stitched, there is no need to do a waste knot. You can start your thread by running it under four or five of your previously placed stitches in the same way that you learned to end your thread.

Repeat this action a second time in order to really lock the thread in before you begin stitching.

Recommended Needlepoint Stitches for Beginners


Continental Stitch

Continental Stitch is a basic needlepoint stitch. It is worked in horizontal rows of Tent Stitches*. Pay attention to the numbering on the stitch diagram below.

*Tent Stitches refers to any stitch that looks like the above diagram. It is a simple stitch that can be used anywhere on your canvas.

Continental is a great stitch to use when you are just starting out as it follows logical horizontal lines so it's easy to learn. You will also use Continental Stitch to fill in small areas or single lines of stitches. You can stitch your entire project in Continental Stitch, but once you have mastered this stitch and have become more familiar with needlepoint, we recommend you learn the Basketweave Stitch and use this as much as possible.


Basketweave Stitch

Basketweave Stitch is also made up of Tent Stitches - it looks the same as Continental Stitch on the front of the canvas. The difference is the pattern in which you work the stitches forms a basketweave pattern on the back of the canvas (and provides good canvas coverage with minimal distortion).

Begin by closely looking at your canvas. You should see that the threads making up the canvas weave over and under each other. We call these "Poles" when the vertical thread sits on top of the underlying horizontal thread (in red below) and "Steps" when the horizontal thread sits on top of the underlying vertical thread (in blue below).

In Basketweave Stitch you want to “slide down the poles and step up the steps.” In other words, work down in a diagonal line on the “pole” intersections of the canvas, and work up a diagonal line on the “step” intersections of the canvas.


Stitch in all the color areas using either the Continental or the Basketweave stitch. It doesn't really matter where on your canvas you start, but beginners often find it easier to stitch in the smallest color areas first.

You will find more in-depth instructions with our How to Needlepoint Online Class.

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How to Needlepoint Part 2 canvas on marble with skein of silk thread

How to Needlepoint Part 2

New to needlepoint? Learn everything you need to know with the help of Needlepoint.Com!

Our How to Needlepoint Part 2 kit will help prepare you to stitch any project you want in no time. This kit includes the tools you need to master the two foundational stitches of needlepoint: Tent Stitch and Basketweave Stitch. Practice your skills on a printed canvas with basic shapes and letters. 

Ready to Get Started? Shop Beginner Kits

Stitch For Backgrounds

Diagonal Mosaic Stitch

Stitch For Backgrounds

Diagonal Scotch Stitch

Stitch For Skies

Skip Tent Stitch

Stitch For Ground

Horizontal Single Brick Stitch

Stitch For Circles

Rhodes Circle Stitch

Stitch For Squares

Mosaic Stitch


Try your hand at decorative stitches!

These decorative stitches can be used to add additional interest to your canvas. Projects can be stitched entirely in Continental Stitch or Basketweave Stitch, but you may enjoy using the following stitches to add fun textures and patterns!