Tips & Tricks

Homemade Gifts: Needlepoint Resources

Needlepoint is a type of embroidery that has been used for centuries. Like any other craft, needlepoint does have a steep learning curve.

Fortunately, there are a number of resources available to make it easier to learn how to do this craft. Pattern books, project kits, and websites devoted to needlepoint all have instructions on selecting tools and materials, creating basic stitches, using specialty stitches, and doing other tasks related to needlepoint.

This craft can be used to make pillowcases, pillows, chair covers, and decorative items, making it one of the more versatile crafts.


Needlepoint is a type of created with only needles, threads or fibers, and canvas. The canvas is usually an open-weave fabric that is made according to a specific thread count. Different thread counts make it possible to use different types of thread and fibers to create colorful designs. Needlepoint has been a favorite pastime since approximately 200 A.D. This technique was first used on church vestments, but it quickly grew in popularity and entered the secular world. The earliest example of complete design dates back to approximately 500 A.D. As needlepoint grew in popularity, people started using it to create designs on clothing. Needlepoint can turn a plain shirt into a work of art by adding color and interest to a piece of fabric.


All needlepoint projects require some basic materials and tools. Canvas selection is one of the most important steps in completing a needlepoint project. Three of the most common types of canvas are Penelope canvas, mono canvas, and interlock canvas. Penelope canvas has two horizontal and two vertical threads woven together. The crafter uses a single stitch over both threads, reducing the number of stitches needed to complete the project. Mono canvas has single horizontal and vertical threads. This type of canvas works best for chair cushions, pillows, and other projects that will be used in situations with uneven pressure. Interlock canvas has two vertical threads wrapped around a single horizontal thread. This anchors the stitches, making interlock canvas popular for needlepoint kits. Beginning needlepoint enthusiasts also need to purchase needles and thread in a variety of colors. Some crafters buy only the colors they need to complete their first projects, but others step right into this craft by stocking up on supplies at the very beginning.


The basic needlepoint stitches consist of box stitches, diagonal stitches, cross stitches, and straight stitches. Different types of stitches result in different effects on the canvas. Box stitches include the Scotch stitch and the mosaic stitch. The continental stitch and basketweave stitch are types of diagonal stitches. The most common straight stitches used in needlepoint are the double linen, Ming stitch, and straight Gobelin stitch. Once a needlepoint enthusiast has these basic stitches mastered, there are also a number of specialty stitches that are used in more complicated needlepoint projects.


Needlepoint patterns guide the crafter in completing a needlepoint project. The pattern typically shows a piece of canvas with the finished design marked off with squares. Patterns also include a thread color key and lines to help align the fabric properly when starting the project. Following the pattern exactly as it is shown will help the crafter create a finished project that looks just like the one on the project kit. Experienced needlepoint enthusiasts can alter patterns by using different colors or stitches. This is a good way to create custom projects that will appeal to the tastes of different people. There are several free pattern libraries available, making it possible to reduce the cost of starting needlepoint as a hobby.

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