How to read a needlepoint chat pattern

How to read a Needlepoint Chart Pattern

Needlepoint charts are one of the many ways possible to create a needlepoint project on your own, or in case you want to use use supplies that you already have at home! It's also an affordable alternative to printed and hand-painted needlepoint canvases.

What is a needlepoint chart?

It is usually referred to as a PDF file or a printed document with a square grid depicting the design you want to stitch. When using a needlepoint chartyou need to use a blank needlepoint canvas, and with the support of the chartered design, you will know where to place each stitch.

Can I use a cross-stitch chart for needlepoint?

Absolutely! Both Needlepoint and Cross-stitch are embroidery techniques that follow the same concept of stitching a square-defined design, with a specific color thread to cover it.

You can use a needlepoint chart to do a cross-stitch project, and vice-versa: you can create a needlepoint project from a cross-stitch chart!

Tips & Main Steps on How to Read a Needlepoint Chart

  • FIND THE CENTER: It is important to find the center of your canvas, as well as the center of your chart, so you have a point of reference between the two.
TIP: To find the center you can either fold the canvas in 4, or you can use a ruler to cross out the center, by tracing the diagonals. 


    Find the center of a needlepoint chart

    Find the center of a needlepoint chart


    • WHERE TO START: starting in the center is the easiest way to begin stitching with a needlepoint chart, because it's your strongest point of reference, but in case your pattern does not start in the center, simply count your way to where you wish to start in the chart, and then count it in the canvas.

    TIP: If you feel the need to mark your canvas with some guidelines for easier stitching, we recommend you to use either:

    • a pen with fine tip and waterproof ink
    • artist-tape to mark the limits of the design


    • HOW TO COUNT YOUR CHART: An easy way to get the hang of counting your chart/canvas, is to always think of the squares as the intersections in your needlepoint canvas, instead of the actual holes of the canvas. This is really important so you don't get confused when counting your design.

    TIP: Ignore the grid lines on the needlepoint chart when making a stitch. You must focus on the colored blocks instead.


    • UNDERSTAND THE COLOR MAP: Now that we have already established that each square in the chart equals an intersection in the canvas, let's think about the colors. This may differ from chart to chart, but most of them have a color map with symbols (these can be shapes, letters, or numbers), so you can match each square with the labeled color.


    • START STITCHING, and just follow the pattern: This part is pretty easy if you already understood the basics of working with charts, so go get your counting goggles on, and stitch away!

     How to stitch with a needlepoint chart

    Key considerations when using needlepoint charts

    Like any other method, there are always pros and cons, and it totally depends on what you are comfortable with and your preference.

    • Although printed or painted canvases might be easier to follow because you already have the design sketched out, needlepoint charts can be a more affordable alternative if you are starting your needlepoint journey and want to stay on a budget.
    • It can also be a more immediate way to buy a pattern, if you choose to buy a digital downloadable pattern so that you don't have to wait for it to ship to you.
    • However when following needlepoint charts, you can't really explore different stitches, because they only allow you to use stitches that go over one single intersection of the canvas.


    These are just a few things to consider when choosing to work with charts, that can be pros or cons, depending on your stitching preferences!

    Happy Stitching!

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