Needlepoint Stitches

Le 20 March 2017

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    Needlepoint Stitches

    So you want to learn needlepoint? Be warned: you’re going to love it! And since DMC is the destination for today’s Modern Maker, who better to help you along your needlepoint journey?


    Before we begin reviewing the different stitches, here are some quick stitch tips for you to keep in mind:

    • Make sure your thread remains untwisted and your stitches lie flat. Stitches made with an even tension will appear uniform and full.
    • To keep the backside of your working canvas neat, plan your stitching instead of skipping around a lot. If you only need to carry the thread across a few stitches, you can turn the work over and run your thread under several stitches before you resume stitching. Don’t run the thread for long distances. Instead, end the thread and start it again in a new area.
    • The most common stitches used in needlepoint are the tent stitches—the continental and the basketweave stitch. These form a small, diagonal stitch on the canvas. Decorative stitches can be used as well. These stitches can be worked diagonally, vertically, and horizontally to create an infinite variety of interesting textured patterns. When using tent stitches, the entire canvas ground is filled with stitches, including the background area. Designs with decorative stitches, or those worked on a colored canvas, may leave some of the canvas exposed as part of the overall design.

    So now that you’ve read our Stitch Tips, here is information on specific stitches.


    Stab and Sew Methods


    There are two methods of stitching. The “stab” method is used by most beginning stitchers. This technique involves moving the hand back and forth from the front of the canvas to the back of the canvas. The needle is “stabbed” into the front of the fabric, left there, and then pulled through from the other side. This method is effective when using a frame or scroll bars. It won’t distort the fabric and ensures that the stitch is placed properly.


    The sewing method is used by stitchers who prefer to hold the canvas in their hands instead of in a frame or in scroll bars. The needle is inserted into the canvas and pulled up in one continuous sewing motion while the other hand is holding the canvas in place. It can be difficult to keep an even tension with this technique and your thread can twist more easily, making it more difficult to control. Because it can stretch your canvas and distort your stitches, we don’t recommend this method for beginners.



    [caption id="attachment_6432" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Aubusson Aubusson[/caption] This stitch will produce a ribbed effect.
    • Stitch Guidelines:
      • Work in vertical lines from the bottom moving upwards.
      • Bring your needle up at 1.
      • Insert the needle again at two intersections above the starting point at 2.
      • Bring your needle up again to the left of your starting point (3), and repeat across the row.
      • Work the next row in the opposite direction.


    [caption id="attachment_6431" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Bargello Bargello[/caption] Use this stitch as filler or for a repeated geometric pattern. It is also known as the Florentine Stitch. It can be worked in countless variations by altering the number and size of the stitches.  
    • Stitch Guidelines:
      • Work in an upright long stitch or satin stitch.
      • Work your first row from left to right. Bring your needle up at 1 and down at 2.
      • Bring your needle back up at 3 and down at 4.
      • Bring your needle back up at 5 and down at 6.
      • Continue stitching.
      • Subsequent rows can be worked from either the left or the right, with the stitches fitting those of the preceding row.
    • Stitch Tips:
      • Use three or four shades of a single color family in alternating rows to create a beautiful shading effect.
      • If the thread is not giving the coverage you desire and the canvas is showing, use a thicker thread.

    Basketweave Stitch

    [caption id="attachment_6430" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Basketweave Stitch Basketweave Stitch[/caption] Also known as the Diagonal Tent Stitch, use this method as a filling stitch. It’s similar in appearance to the Tent Stitch.  
    • Stitch Guidelines:
      • Work this stitch diagonally, starting at the lower left, at the intersection of the threads. Rows will be worked diagonally down then up the canvas.
      • Form each stitch by bringing the needle up at 1 and then down at 2.
      • Skip one row between stitches. On the downward rows your needle will be moving vertically. On the upward rows your needle will be moving horizontally.
      • Form your first stitch of an upward row below your last stitch of a down row, and the first stitch of a down row to the left of the last stitch of an up row.
      • Turn your canvas to fill in the corner above the first row.
    • Stitch Tip:
    • To make sure you are executing the stitch correctly, look at the back of your canvas. The stitches should look like a basketweave.

    Brick Stitch

    [caption id="attachment_6429" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Brick Stitch Brick Stitch[/caption] This stitch is used for decorative and filling work. It can be worked horizontally to imitate the look of brick. It can also be worked vertically.  
    • Stitch Guidelines:
      • Bring the needle up at the target hole at 1, over two lines of canvas, and then place it down at point 2 (working left to right along the desired area).
      • Continue stitching.
      • The next row is worked identically, but right to left.

    Continental Stitch

    [caption id="attachment_6428" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Continental Stitch Continental Stitch[/caption] This stitch is also known as the Tent Stitch and is the most common needlepoint stitch you will encounter (it’s also used quite a bit in miniature needlepoint). It’s commonly used to fill in large areas.  
    • Stitch Guidelines:
      • Done horizontally, starting at the upper right, work each row of stitches from right to left. Form each stitch by bringing the needle up at 1 and down at 2.
      • Bring the needle back up at 3 and down at 4.
      • Continue stitching.
      • At the end of each row, finish the last stitch, leaving the needle at the back of the canvas.
      • Turn the canvas completely around and start the new row in line with the row you just completed.
    • Stitch Tips:
      • The Continental Stitch is prone to distorting the canvas, so be sure that you don’t tug your thread as you stitch.

    Cross Stitch on Canvas

    [caption id="attachment_6427" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Cross Stitch on Canvas Cross Stitch on Canvas[/caption] This is a great filling stitch. Work this bulky stitch like its counted-thread counterpart.  
    • Stitch Guidelines:
      • Bring your needle up from the upper right at 1 and down to the lower right of the intersection of the canvas at 2.
      • The second half of the stitch is worked from the top left at 3 to the bottom left of the intersection at 4, creating the X of the stitch.
      • To make rows of cross stitch, work the entire row from right to lower left, followed by a full row worked in the second direction from upper left to lower right.
    • Stitch Tip:
      • It’s best to work rows of cross stitch in your needlepoint design so that you produce tidier, uniform stitches with even tension.

    Diagonal Mosaic

    [caption id="attachment_6426" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Diagonal Mosaic Diagonal Mosaic[/caption] Used as a beautifully textured filling stitch.  
    • Stitch Guidelines:
      • Work in diagonal rows. Bring your needle up at 1 and down at 2.
      • Bring your needle up at 3 then across two intersections and down at 4.
      • Repeat to fill the area, working a diagonal row upwards from lower right to upper left.
      • Then you’ll want to reverse the direction—working from upper left to lower right for the next row.

    Long Stitch

    [caption id="attachment_6425" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Long Stitch Long Stitch[/caption] This textured needlepoint stitch is similar to the Satin Stitch and can be used to fill in large areas of canvas. You can work it in differing lengths and varying directions to create a design or you can work the stitches in a single direction.  
    • Stitch Guidelines:
      • Working from right to left—bring your needle up at 1.
      • Bring your needle down at 2 (in this diagram you can see that we’ve skipped three rows).
      • Bring your needle back up at 3 and down at 4.
      • Continue stitching.
    • Stitch Tip:
      • Create a show-stopping design by varying the length of your stitches.

    Rice Stitch

    [caption id="attachment_6424" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Rice Stitch Rice Stitch[/caption] This is an eye-catching filling stitch.  
    • Stitch Guidelines:
      • Work your cross stitch base over four canvas threads, bringing your needle up at 1 and then down at 2. Then cross your X by bringing your needle back up at 3 and down at 4.
      • Make a small diagonal stitch over each “leg” of the cross stitch (and over two canvas threads) by bringing your needle up at 5 and down at 6.
      • Continue making small diagonal stitches around the base of your cross stitch by bringing your needle up at 7 and down at 8.
      • Bring your needle up at 9 and down at 10, then up at 11 and down at 12.
      • Continue stitching.
    • Stitch Tip:
      • This stitch is similar to a cross stitch except that each “leg” of the stitch will have a diagonal tacking stitch.

    Scotch Stitch

    [caption id="attachment_6423" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Scotch Stitch Scotch Stitch[/caption] This stitch is worked diagonally as a square and is used as a filling and/or background stitch.  
    • Stitch Guidelines:
      • Begin at the upper right of a block. You will work every block of five stitches across the row to the left.
      • Bring your needle up at 1 and down at 2, then work from 3 to 4, 5 to 6, 7 to 8, and 9 to 10.
      • At 11 bring your needle up to start the next block.
      • At the end of the row, turn the canvas to line up the next row with the previous one.

    Scotch Frame Stitch

    [caption id="attachment_6422" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Scotch Frame Stitch Scotch Frame Stitch[/caption] This stitch is a variation of the Scotch Stitch and is used as a filling and/or background stitch. It creates scotch stitch blocks that are frame by a tent stitch border.  
    • Stitch Guidelines:
      • Bring your needle up through the canvas in the upper right corner of the area you wish to fill.
      • Work one stitch diagonally across the intersection of the canvas (1 - 2 followed by 3 - 4 and 5 - 6).
      • Now work the uppermost stitch of the scotch stitch center (9 - 10), followed by two additional border stitches (11 - 12 and 13 - 14).
      • Following the numbered pattern, continue to stitch steps 15 - 20 to complete one stitch.

    Scotch Reverse Stitch

    [caption id="attachment_6421" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Scotch Reverse Stitch Scotch Reverse Stitch[/caption] Use this stitch when creating borders or for background areas. It’s similar to the standard Scotch Stitch, except that you reverse the direction of the stitches in every other block.  
    • Stitch Guidelines:
      • Bring your needle up at 1—across one thread of the canvas—and down at hole 2.
      • Bring your needle up at hole 3—across two threads of the canvas—and down at hole 4.
      • The next stitch is made over three threads in the canvas (5 and 6), then down to two and finally, to one stitch.

    Smyrna Cross Stitch

    [caption id="attachment_6420" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Smyrna Cross Stitch Smyrna Cross Stitch[/caption] This stitch is similar to cross stitch and is worked over an even number of threads in the canvas. The illustration shown here has three threads. Use this stitch to create highly textured filling, backgrounds, and border areas.    
    • Stitch Guidelines:
      • Work a standard cross stitch, then work an upright cross stitch directly over it (this is also known as a double cross stitch).
      • Bring your needle up diagonally from the lower left to point 1, to the upper right at point 2, then over an even number of canvas intersections.
      • Bring your needle up at the lower right at point 3 and cross down to the upper left at point 4. This completes the first half of your Smyrna Cross.
      • Begin the second half of the stitch by bringing your needle up at the bottom center at point 5 and then down at 6. Bring your needle up again at the center left at point 7, and down at the center right at point 8 to complete the stitch.
    • Stitch Tip:
      • The Smyrna Cross may be worked individually as a decorative element, or in rows.
      • Smyrna Cross is referred to as a double cross in surface and cross stitch embroidery.

    Triangle Stitch

    [caption id="attachment_6419" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Triangle Stitch Triangle Stitch[/caption] This stitch is great for creating borders and decorative details.  
    • Stitch Guidelines:
      • Bring your needle up at 1, down at 2.
      • Bring your needle back up at 3 and down at 4.
      • Continue stitching from there.
    There you have it. Needlepoint stitches that are sure to get you on your way to needlepoint mastery!  

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