The Tent Stitch is the simplest and most common stitch in needlepoint,and is the foundation for many other stitches.

Tent stitch is usually worked across a single intersection of canvas, and can be worked in several different ways, each with its own name: continental, basketweave and half-cross.

They each provide different levels of coverage and structure, and can be chosen regarding the desired type of wear or finishing the piece is going to receive, besides personal preference of the stitcher. 


Tent stitch diagrams 


Coverage Distortion Amount of thread

Medium Medium Medium

Strongest Very Low High
Half Cross

Weakest Low Low



A good mnemonic for continental tent stitch 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. See the diagram to understand how it works. To check whether you are doing the correct stitch, look at the back of the canvas, which should be covered all over with rows of diagonal stitchery. 

Continental Tent Stitch

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



Basketweave tent stitches are worked up and down diagonals. Due to its “basketweave effect” that is visible on the back of the canvas, this stitch causes no distortion to the work. When using basketweave, stop for rests in the middle of a row rather than at an end, so that you know which way along the diagonal you are working.

The stitching may look uneven if you work two consecutive rows in the same direction. The diagram shows how basketweave tent is used in vertical or horizontal stripes. 


Half Cross

Half cross 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 thus not such a strong stitch and is not recommended for any project which will need to wear well, such as a purse or stool top.

The great advantages of half cross stitch are that it does not distort the canvas as continental tent stitch does, and uses less thread, which can turn the project a bit more economical. 


Half Cross Tent Stitch

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



Skipped Tent & T Stitch

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.

Please note that the Skipped Tent stitch always has to be worked on the diagonal.


Skipped tent and T stitch


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

Happy Stitching :) 



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