What are Some Different Types of Needlepoint?

Malcolm Tatum

While many patterns for needlepoint are available today, just about all of them track back to a handful of basic techniques. Here are some examples of the types or techniques that form the basis for just about any project.

Needlepoint may be considered to be a type of canvas work embroidery.
Needlepoint may be considered to be a type of canvas work embroidery.

Needlepoint itself is considered a type of canvas work embroidery. Essentially, the use of yarn to create a stitched pattern into the canvas, with the end result being a new fabric item. Canvas, in this application, is not limited to the use of canvas material, but to just about any piece of fabric that the needle point enthusiast wishes to use for the project. Thus, the material may be a heavier canvas, or something as light as a piece of cotton fabric. The use of the term canvas simply has to do with identifying the basic piece of cloth that will provide the platform for the cross stitching used to create the design.

Cross stitch is often a charted needlepoint project.
Cross stitch is often a charted needlepoint project.

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Hand-painted needlepoint projects are a popular option. In this application, the design is painted onto the canvas. In some instances, the outlines for the image or design are painted in a manner similar to painting any picture. In other instances, the concept of stitch painting is employed. Stitch painting is the creation of a painted pattern that clearly shows each step necessary to allow the design to gradually emerge as the correct stitches are applied to the pattern. For many, this method is a quick and easy way to enjoy the art without having to spend a lot of time adjusting the type of stitch or checking to make sure the stitching is creating the type of design that was intended.

Printed needlepoint is similar to hand painted canvasses, but are created using automated means. This process also yields a pattern that can easily be completed with embroidering, so there is always a guide to follow during the project. Typically, printed canvasses are generated by use of silk screening or computer imaging. Because there is less time and resources involved in manufacturing printed canvasses, they tend to be lower in price than hand painted versions, making them more widely available to persons who are just taking up this hobby.

Charted needlepoint is created and sold in book form. Essentially, a grid is created on the pattern, allowing the project to be completed in sections. Instructions on using the cross stitch and other types of stitches to complete the design are usually included. Often, the charted canvass will also specify the colors of yarn to be used in the project as well.

Free-form needlepoint designs are usually considered the most exciting, since the imagination and creativity of this art comes into play. In this scenario, the creator of the design uses his or her own concept of how the project should look. The image may be sketched out on the canvas, or simply emerge as the stitches are worked into the fabric. Free-form needlepoint does not require anything but the proper needles, a piece of fabric, and plenty of yarn to choose from. Some enthusiasts consider this the purest form of creating needlepoint designs.

Over time, the term needlepoint has increasingly come to be used as a more general term for any sort of embroidery work.
Over time, the term needlepoint has increasingly come to be used as a more general term for any sort of embroidery work.

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Discussion Comments


I’ve been interested in needlepoint for a while now, but have mostly been dabbling with oil on canvas. Is there a way to make your own canvases for needlepoint? For those who have made their own, is it actually cheaper or even a better quality than the store bought? I just want to know if it’s worth the extra effort.

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