Tent Stitch - Basketweave, Continental and Half-Cross

The Tent Stitch is the simplest and most common stitch in needlepoint, and it is the foundation for many other stitches. It is worked as small diagonals, across a single intersection of the canvas.

Tent Stitch Details

  • Stitch Structure: Flat, Parallel, Diagonal
  • Recommended for: Small areas, Background
  • Can be worked in 3 different ways, each with its own name: Basketweave, Continental, and Half-cross.
  • Each variation provides different levels of coverage and structure, and can be chosen taking into consideration the type of wear or finished product, the amount of thread one wants to use, and how much distortion of the canvas we want to avoid. See the table below for more details:

Coverage Distortion  Amount of thread
Basketweave Strongest Very Low High
Continental Medium Medium Medium
Half Cross Weakest Low Low

Basketweave Stitch Diagram & Video Tutorial

Stitch details:

  • Basketweave stitches are worked up and down diagonals, and the back of the canvas it will result in a woven or basket-like pattern
  • It's the tent version that has the minimal distortion of the canvas
  • Recommended stitch for products that might wear a lot, like belts.
  • The stitching may look uneven if you work two consecutive rows in the same direction. 

Basketweave Stitch Diagram

Basketwave needlepoint stitch tutorial

Basketweave Stitch Video Tutorial

Continental Tent Stitch Diagram

Stitch details:

  • Ideal for stitchers who are learning how to needlepoint.
  • A good mnemonic is that when you are working from left to right along the row, the actual stitch is worked from right to left and vice versa.
  • The oblique lines on the back of the canvas provide a strong stitch with good coverage.
  • Tend to distort the canvas more than basketweave but it can be solved by blocking your needlepoint canvas.

Continental Stitch Diagram

Continental Tent Stitch

Front and back side of the Continental Tent Stitch, in the "Garden of Joy" Needlepoint Kit 

Half Cross Tent Stitch

Stitch details

  • Looks almost identical to continental tent stitch on the front of the canvas, but on the back is very different, with only small upright threads instead of a dense covering of diagonal stitchery
  • It is not such a strong stitch and is not recommended for any project that will need to wear well, such as a purse or stool top
  • Does not distort the canvas as continental tent stitch does, and uses less thread

Half Cross Stitch Diagram


    Half Cross Tent Stitch

    Front and back side of the Half Cross Tent Stitch, in the "Contemporary Floral Pattern" Needlepoint Kit


    Continental Stitch and Half-Cross Stitch Video Tutorial

    Tent Stitch Variations

    Two variations of the Tent Stitch are the Skipped Tent and the T Stitch. These stitches are perfect for a situation where a light stitch is preferable for the background, especially if it is a big area to cover. 

    Skipped tent and T stitch



    Now that you know everything about the Tent Stitch, it's time to practice it on your favorite needlepoint project!

    Happy Stitching :) 

    Decorative Stitches for Needlepoint Booklet
    Decorative Stitches for Needlepoint Booklet by Unwind Studio
    Decorative Stitches for Needlepoint Booklet by Unwind Studio
    Decorative Stitches for Needlepoint Booklet by Unwind Studio

    Decorative Stitches for Needlepoint Booklet

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