5 Tips for Successful Needlepoint Projects

As I have dived into my new craft obsession, needlepoint, I’ve learned some tips for successful needlepoint projects. These are all things I learned from stitching my Anatomical Heart Needlepoint.

cut needlepoint canvas to size

1. Cut your needlepoint canvas to size. Immediately cutting your canvas down to the size of the finished project makes it easier to manage it rather than having to manhandle excess bulk.

bind edge of needlepoint canvas

2. Finish the edges of your needlepoint canvas. As I was stitching, and stitching, and stitching, I found that my yarn would rub on the edge of the canvas, causing both the canvas and my yarn to fray. I bound the edges with cloth bias tape (but you could even use blue painter’s tape, the kind that doesn’t leave sticky residue).

heart needlework in progress

3. Start stitching with a middle-abundance color.  If following a counted pattern, the first color that you use requires the most looking at the pattern and counting because it will form a reference point for the addition of future colors. A middle-abundance color strikes the balance between being a sufficient backbone and not taking too long to stitch. Shown above, I started with tan and then used it as a reference to add in the smaller colors of red and blue.

4. Use your yarn in 12″ lengths. It’s so very tempting to stitch with long lengths of yarn since it means fewer ends to deal with. However, with long lengths of yarn you’ll find it tying itself into knots and the end fraying before you’re done with it.

staple pattern to canvas

5. Staple your pattern to your canvas. This sounds silly, but it was a lifesaver when I figured this trick out. Minimizing the distance between your stitching and your pattern makes it faster and easier not to lose your place. Rather than having to hold my pattern and my canvas while stitching, or constantly glancing at my lap or  a nearby table, I found stapling it to my canvas to be an optimal solution. I folded my pattern and often stapled it over part of my canvas which did require frequent stapling and un-stapling. As long as you staple near the edge of your canvas, you don’t have to worry about damage.

Comments 4

  1. whoa, this looks detailed and time consuming! Very cool, though, and I admire your persistence. What type of yarn do you use for needlepoint? Where do you find it? I’m dabbling in embroidery and am looking to move beyond cotton floss.

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      I used 50% wool 50% silk yarn that I bought by the cone in neutral (and then hand-dyed) for knitting. A fingering weight yarn is the perfect size for standard 13/14 count needlepoint canvas. Needlepoint SF has supplies for getting started with needlepoint including an amazing selection of yarns in wool, silk, and blends in ton of colors.

  2. This is a really beautiful work! What are your plans for the piece (are you going to frame it or pillow it or seat cushion it)? I haven’t done needlepoint, but I was a big cross-stitch addict for quite a long time before I became a knitter (which was more portable). Your tips would work well for cross stitch, too, except for the pattern stapling since cross stitch is usually on cloth and the staples would probably snag it.

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      Thanks! I decided to frame it. I had originally envisioned a pillow but it was so much work and I’m so proud of it and I had a vision of the cats scratching at the pillow… I grew up cross-stitching (my mom did it a lot when I was a kid and I learned from her) and found that needlepoint was very similar. You’re right about the tips working well for both!

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