What is Preworked Needlepoint?

Christine Hudson

Preworked needlepoint is a type of stitched canvas where the primary design features have already been stitched, leaving only the background area or minor details to be completed. It is believed to have originated just after the introduction of charted needlepoint designs, when needlepoint enjoyed newfound popularity among those with little time to create an entire stitched design. It is still enjoyed today for the same reason, as well as for its advantages as a learning device for perfecting stitching techniques.

Preworked needlepoint is a needlepoint canvas where most of the design has already been stitched.
Preworked needlepoint is a needlepoint canvas where most of the design has already been stitched.

Like other types of needlepoint canvas designs, preworked needlepoint starts out as a painted or printed design on any of a variety of open canvas types. The most popular types of canvas are mono- or single-strand canvases, interlock or multi-strand canvases, and even plastic canvas. The design is then hand-stitched, commonly in the center and frequently by cooperative stitching services or companies, leaving the background and possibly other areas untouched. The canvases are then sold, either as kits including the fibers for the background area or separately so that the consumer has the freedom to select her thread of choice.

Preworked needlepoint canvas is often a favorite choice for such things as piano benches, pillows and other large items. It is also popular for use in creating chair seats, which often demand uniformity in their execution in order to match each other. The canvas can generally be mounted on stretcher bars to simplify stitching and to help reduce distortion. The person stitching can then fill in the blank areas with tent stitches or patterns composed of more complex stitches.

Many regular needlepoint canvases can be converted to pre-worked canvases, particularly if they have open designs with a reasonable amount of background space. A common practice for many who stitch is to work the primary design areas themselves and have the more tedious background areas done by stitching services or share the project with another person who prefers doing the backgrounds. Those who would rather purchase pre-worked needlepoint usually have many options, as it is widely sold in specialty needlework shops and via the Internet on websites selling needlework supplies.

Preworked needlepoint may be an effective way to gain introduction into needlework arts. It can be a useful tool for learning new stitching techniques or relaxing by doing creative handiwork. It generally takes less time to complete, so it can be enjoyed by those with a busy life schedule or those who don’t like or can’t do fine detail needlework.

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Discussion Comments


Preworked needlepoint rug patterns are great for making rugs, especially those with basic designs. They are nice tools for creating a project effectively and quickly.


My mother teaches a needlepoint class to beginners, and she uses preworked needlepoint canvases to introduce her students to the craft. She says that using them helps those who are new to needlepoint understand the basics, and gives them the pride of easily completing projects. They also are great stepping stones for learning how to eventually do finer, more complicated needlework projects.

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