Jul 16

How To Needlepoint

Needlepoint is a creative activity with therapeutic benefits. It calms the mind, relaxes the body, and exercises the imagination. If you are new to the world of needlepoint, you’re probably wondering where to start and how to needlepoint.

This beginners’ guide to needlepoint will introduce you to the basics, showing you how to frame needlepoint, do needlepoint embroidery, and even how to make a needlepoint canvas.

How to Needlepoint for Beginners

Before you begin, you’ll need the following supplies:

  • A tapestry needle (scroll down for a guide on how to choose the right one)
  • A needlepoint canvas (as a beginner, choose a canvas with the design already painted on)
  • The necessary skeins of colored yarn
  • A pair of scissors

Now that you’ve assembled your supplies, here is a quick 4-step guide on how to start needlepoint:

1. Cut your thread

Pull a strand of thread from your skein, no longer than 18”, and cut. It should be about the length of your elbow to your finger.

2. Thread your needle

Threading the needle can be tricky at first, but with practice, you’ll be able to do it in no time. One trick is to take the end of your thread and fold it in half. This creates a stiff and rounded end which can be easily pushed through the eye of the needle.

3. Starting your thread (creating a waste knot)

At this point in the process, you should have your needle on one end of your thread. Now, take the empty end of your thread and tie a knot in it. This little knot is called a “waste knot” — you’ll see why in a moment.

Next, choose a hole about one inch away from where you plan to stitch, and then thread your needle through the canvas, front to back. Feed your thread all the way through so that the not is secured on the front of the canvas. Don’t worry, it won’t stay there.

Now, begin stitching an inch or so away from the waste knot, this will create a thread “tail” on the back of the canvas, connecting the waste knot to your section of stitching. As you stitch, work your way towards the waste knot, making sure to stitch over the tail.

When you reach the waste knot, your thread should be secured by how you’ve stitched over the tail, so take a pair of scissors and carefully cut the waste knot off the canvas.

4. Ending your thread

When you’re ready to end your thread, turn your canvas over so that you can see the back. Stitch your needle and remaining thread through so that they are on the back of the canvas. Run your needle through a few of your previous stitches, securing the end of your thread there.

Finally, take your embroidery scissors and trim off any excess thread.


Should I Use A Needlepoint Frame a.k.a “Stretcher Bars”?

A needlepoint frame will keep your work clean and is especially useful for beginners. Without a frame, your canvas can become distorted, making accurate needlepoint difficult.

We suggest starting out with a frame and then experimenting without one once you’ve gotten the hang of needlepoint.

Needlepoint frames can be easily created from 4 specially designed wooden bars, called “stretcher bars.” These are cheap and easy to assemble. Our online shop carries mini stretcher bars and regular-sized stretcher bars.

In addition to keeping your needlework tidy, stretcher bars make it easier to hold your canvas while doing needlepoint — no more hand cramps!

How to Choose the Right Tapestry Needle Size

Choosing the right tapestry needle for your needlepoint is easy. You want to make sure that the needle can easily pass through the mesh — no need to push or distort the mesh threads to fit the needle through.

Use this handy chart to ensure that you get the right needle for your size of mesh:

Canvas Mesh Size Tapestry Needle Size
#8 to #10  Size 16
 #10 to #12  Size 18
 #12 to #14  Size 20
 #14 to #18  Size 22
 #22 to #24  Size 24 & 26

How to Make a Needlepoint Canvas

Painting your own canvas is one of the easiest ways to take needlepoint customization to the next level. This will help your beginner needlework look advanced. Painting your own needlepoint canvas is also a great way to reduce the cost of getting into the hobby, as designer canvases can be quite expensive.

To begin, gather the following supplies:

  • Waterproof acrylic paint (use opaque paint for the best results)
  • Tape (ideally painters’ masking tape)
  • A set of synthetic brushes (natural fibers have a difficult time painting on needlepoint canvas)
  • A blank needlepoint canvas
  • A design chart (the photo, needlepoint chart, or painting that you will be using as your template)
  • A paint pallet or paper plate (for mixing your paint and creating colors)
  • A large sheet of plain paper (to protect your tabletop)
  • Waterproof pencil (for outlining the painting on your canvas)

Now that you’ve gathered the necessary materials, let’s begin!

  1. Start by putting down your large sheet of plain paper. This will protect your work station or table from getting paint on it.
  2. Tape your design chart down to the plain paper.
  3. Place your canvas over your design chart, making sure to position it so that the design is exactly where you want it to be on the canvas.
  4. Use your pencil to trace the major shapes from your design chart onto the canvas.
  5. Portion out your paints, mix them to create the proper colors, and then set to work painting!
  6. Once you have finished trace painting the design onto your canvas, put it somewhere safe so that it can dry.

If any holes in your canvas have been filled with paint, don’t worry; your needle will be able to easily open these back up again.

Your #1 Needlepoint Beginner Resource

As a needlepoint beginner, it can be a bit overwhelming to find all the resources and materials you need. Here at The Needlepointer, we understand your position — we were all beginners once too! Which is why we take pride in serving you as the Pacific Northwest’s only exclusively needlepoint supply store.

Our full-service shop offers everything beginner needle pointers need, from easy-to-use hand-painted canvases to needlepoint classes and monthly clubs.

If you’d like expert answers to your beginner questions, schedule an appointment with us today.

Welcome to the vibrant and creative world of needlepoint. Your adventure is just beginning.

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