An introduction to Needlepoint

There is more to needlepoint than printed canvases and half cross stitch, but this is the introduction that many of us remember, I am sure.

I know I do. My first pieces had many beginner mistakes - like not working on a frame and ending up with a skewed piece of work.  But with practice and a little curiosity I moved on to more interesting projects and achieved better results. 

I learned that the term tapestry was really describing something else entirely - and that it was woven not stitched.

In the 1970s I played with bargello patterns, also known as florentine work, a form of needlepoint that is making a comeback. 

I visited stately homes throughout the UK and marvelled over the exquisite items that had been stitched in the past, such as the chair photographed at Arlington Court

I experimented with textured fibers and stitches. I tried out different canvas types and sizes, from tiny silk gauze, stiff plastic canvas, up to 3 stitches to the inch rug canvas. 

I came to understand that needlepoint encompassed a vast array of possibilities! I would love to share that experience with you through the pages of this site. 

If you are eager to jump straight in, why not try these two free patterns straight away.

Free patterns

For something a little bigger check out my Textures to Dye For range of needlepoint patterns


What supplies will you need?

Enjoyed those freebies? If you are interested in taking it further, let's look at what you will need. Maybe one day you will then be ready to take on a monumental task such as the panels I photograhed at Wallington House in Northumberland shown below!

Canvas - in different mesh sizes

Tapestry needles - which are blunt with a big eye

Fibers of various types (including rayon)

Frame to hold the project taut while you work

Scissors - large for cutting canvas and small for snipping fiber ends

Laying tool - for helping you achieve smooth stitches (optional)

Simple needlepoint stitches

Choosing needlepoint stitches

Gobelin stitch - simple to work, with many variations

Leaf stitch - A fancy textured stitch

Rice stitch - also known as crossed corners

Rhodes - large and bumpy

Scotch stitch - a square stitch which can vary in size

Tent stitch and its variations - continental and basketweave

Velvet stitch - which makes wonderful fur

What can you use it for?

Needlepoint creates attractive, hardwearing, useful items, that can become family heirlooms. Here is a quick list of some of uses it can be put to...




Book covers

Church kneelers

Cushions (pillows)

Chair covers

Dog collars

Doll house carpets

Door stops






Needlepoint Kits


Do you have a question about Needlepoint?

If you can't find the answer to a question about needlepoint then why not ask it here? Other visitors to the site might be able to help you.

Or perhaps you have a tip you wish to pass on. This section is for you to interact with other needlepointers, create you own page and help others.

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Needlepoint advice 
My grandfather loved to needlepoint, and he was about 90% done with a canvas before he passed away. I am an advanced cross stitcher so I was wanting …

Vicki’s Needlepoint stocking 
Someone has already started the needlepoint kit that I bought. However, they didn’t follow the instructions. It is on a blank mesh canvas. Instead of …

Using only one strand of thread 
I use Aida 14 to stitch. I only like to use 1 thread. On patterns where you blend 2 colors - how do you know which one not to use. Thank you for reading …

Neils Handiwork 
I have been doing needlepoint for many years, at first I would do it on the cloth, but had so much trouble getting the completed cloth in the correct shape …

Needlepoint questions from beginner 
I am a novice needlepointer - who travels long distance frequently and likes to needlepoint on the flight. First - does on start at the top of a canvas …

using plastic canvas 
How do I needlepoint a Circle shaped Plastic Canvas. There does not seem to anything to show you the correct pattern to follow the circle format. HELP!!! …

I am a beginner in Needlepoint 
Hi, I have two questions. I am a real newbie in needlepoint, although I do know how to do the basic stitches. I found a pre-stamped kit which includes …

Counting Holes or Threads and Where to Start 
I'm a novice needlepointer and am so confused about how to follow a chart. I've done a lot of preparation and in all the books (except one) I've read …

framed needlework 
Can you possibly tell me how old this might be and exactlly what type of needlework it is. Thanks for any information. cheryl

Salvaging vintage needlepoint canvas Not rated yet
I found a treasure trove from an estate. Two boxes stuffed with an assortment of high quality needlepoint canvases, some which appear to be hand-painted. …

To use a hoop or bigger scroll/laptop frame? Not rated yet
I am new to needlepoint and am starting on an Ehrman 16 x 16" pillow. What kind of frame do I need to use? I am confused as to whether I need to get …

Starting bargello Not rated yet
My mom did a lot of bargello needle work in the 70s and I cherish her colorful pillows. I want to try my hand at it. How do you recommend that I start …

How to Avoid Seeing the canvas through your work Not rated yet
I have just started needlepointing and I'm making a belt. For the most part, my canvas is covered....but I still can see some of the paint, from the design …

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