Tips on selecting needlepoint stitches
Our main suggestion is to think and explore possibilities. What is the focal point of the artwork? What can I do to make this project really special? What techniques do I want to use?
Texture and perspective can be created very simply in needlepoint, by selecting specific stitches for a specific purpose. Hence the choice of stitches is important, but this does not mean that you have to choose a lot of stitches or very complicated ones. Often fewer, simpler stitches work the best.
Think about the complete design when choosing stitches and do a bit of planning before you begin. You can always adapt as you stitch, but all areas should work with each other.
Some important considerations are described below:
Your stitch selection will be limited by the area you want to place the stitch in. A good rule of thumb is to see if the pattern of the stitch will be legible in the area you intend to use it.
- In small areas you’ll use a more limited selection of small stitches, such as tent stitch, mosaic, etc.
- In large areas your options are pretty much unlimited, use a small stitch or one of the many larger stitches.
See our post about "Compensation Stitches", which explains how to finish an area where the stitch needs to be only partial.
Analyze the texture of what you are trying to represent on the canvas. Is it smooth, rough, even, uneven? Also, does it corresponds to an organic area in the design?
- Any stitches that lay flat on the canvas such as Byzantine or Long stitch stitch will give a smooth texture.
- Any stitches that cross over, such as Upright Cross stitch will give a more raised appearance.
- Avoid using strong geometric patterns in non organic areas, like trees or leaves.
See also the list of stitches we have for:
- Flat stitches
- Cross over stitches
- Geometric patterns
Background and Foreground
If your design has a central object and a lot of space around it, you need to take important considerations for the background.
The stitch will be an important choice if you want the background to stand out or fade away.
Also, selecting small stitches will require a longer time to finish the piece, which can take some of the enjoyment, if you feel that you are taking too long to complete.
Check our blog post on "Openwork background Stitches" to see our recommended list for simple, discrete and fast background stitches.
Tips & Tricks
A good idea is to use the waste canvas around your design to experiment the stitches and find out whether they work or not. In the end, what really matters is that you love how the stitch looks! Nevertheless, if you don’t like it, you can always experiment and try new stitches in future projects. Needlepoint is all about to help you to have fun and unwind!
Abigail, from Abigail Cecile, has the following process to plan the stitches on a canvas:
- Mentally break up the canvas into three categories: background, focal point and secondary elements.
- The focal point is the main subject, so she prefers to stitch it first and draw attention with more textured stitches and bolder patterns.
- The secondary elements are everything else that support the main subject, so she likes to use lower profile stitches.
- For the backgrounds, she usually uses a non-textured stitch like Tent-stitch, T-stitch, Skipped Tent, etc. Really anything that doesn't draw much attention.