Saturday, August 1, 2009

Needlepoint: An Introduction

tapisserie, point de broderie, canevas

Needlepoint, or canvas embroidery, consists of embroidering from left to right (for right-handed people) and diagonally, always using the same half-stitch.

When the line is finished, return from right to left, with the stitches pointing in the same direction as those in the preceding row.



  • Multiple colors of woolen or cotton thread
  • Canvas: light, loosely woven fabric that thread can easily pass through. You can buy it with a pattern pre-printed or you can design your own pattern.


  • Rounded-end needle (n° 18,19, or 20)
  • Scissors specially designed for canvas or a thread nipper
  • Thimble
  • Needlepoint frame or sewing hoop


  • Put the canvas in a frame so that it doesn't become misshapen. Unsecured canvases quickly lose their finish as a result of hand contact. The fabric gets soft and deformed and stitches will lose their regularity.
  • Start working at the top of your canvas, at the left if you're right-handed and at the right if you're left-handed. This method prevents you from repeating or ruining stitches you've already done.
  • To start, leave 4 to 5 cm (1-1/2 to 2 inches) of thread hanging on the wrong side and trap that thread behind the following stitches (never make a knot).

  • Make your half-stitches loose enough that they lay on the canvas without pulling it.
tapisserie, point de broderie, canevas
  • To finish a thread, slide your thread (on the wrong side of the fabric) under 2 cm (3/4 inch) of preceding stitches.


  • The canvas should be completely covered where stitching is done. If you can see the fabric between your stitches, your stitches are too tight. Remember not to pull your thread too tight.

  • To make sure that you haven't forgotten any stitches in your design, put it against a window and check for transparency to see if you've missed a stitch.

  • To straighten or smooth a finished work, use a spray bottle and wet the entire canvas. Once it's wet, secure it in a frame with the aid of pins. Start at the corners. Let it dry at least 24 hours.


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