For all stitchers, not just those beginning needlepoint, the question of how much thread to buy is perplexing. Yes, there are “formulas,” but they don’t take into account stitches, whether you ply the thread, or even your stitching style. Each of these things can make a difference in how much thread you need.
Here is a sure-fire method for those beginning needlepoint to find out how much thread to buy using ANY thread, ANY stitch, and ANY mesh size.
To begin, you will need:
Here’s how to do it, step-by-step:
When you are done you’ll have a list of the threads and amounts needed to stitch your project. For threads that vary in dye lot or that use alot, I often buy an extra skein.
Now even if you are just beginning needlepoint, you’ll be able to calculate the amount of thread needed.
Looking for a unique way to finish Christmas needlepoint ornaments? If the stitching is square or rectangular, why not finish them as boxes.
I originally saw this at Needlepoint, Inc, a San Francisco shop, where it was used to finish little flag ornaments.
They were finished as rectangles about 1/2″ thick, with fabric for the sides and back, and cording around the sides. The weren’t stuffed, but probably finished over blocks of foam. The fabrics were glitzy, but didn’t overwhelm the graphic simplicity of the flags.
But you could use it for all kinds of designs.
Why not stitch 2” squares trying out different stitches and then finish them with matching fabrics and ties the whole thing with a wired ribbon bow, making a package. Put the hanger on the short side so the stitching shows.
Or instead of making a stuffed ornament, try this for any rectangular design, like the small Tish missions from Sundance.
And many free designs are squares, diamonds, or rectangles — try finishing them this way.
oam Box Ornaments
One popular way of finishing needlepoint is to make it into a standing objects. Standing needlepoint can be made in any shape or size. They can be small or large, used as needlepoint Christmas ornaments or can stand on tables or floors as decoration. They can even be doorstops. All are made the same way.
Begin by stitching around the edge of the stitched area with a zigzag stitch to help stabilize the fabric. Now trim the margin of the canvas to about a 3/4″.
Putting right sides together, pin the needlepoint to the backing fabric. If you are making a hanging ornament, pin a loop of fabric between the needlepoint and the backing at the point to make a hanger.
Ultrasuede is an excellent choice for finishing needlepoint because it doesn’t ravel or stretch. For these kind of objects, your backing should be fairly heavy. Sew around the margin of the needlework and trim seams to match.
If your object is curved, clip the seam allowance to make it fit to the curve better and turn the right side out. Now stuff most of the object with fiberfill. It should be puffy and firmly stuffed.
You need to weight the bottom of the object in order for it to stand up. There are many things which could be used for this. Fabric stores carry plastic pellets which are used to make bean bags. BB’s for BB guns could also be used.
I chose to use pie weights which are little ceramic balls from England. I used a medium handful and tied them in a scrap of fabric. DO NOT use beans, rice or other food, they can attract insects.
Put the weight, tie side up in the bottom of the object.
Now you need to sew on the base. I used another piece of Ultrasuede for this. Cut it into a melon shape tapering to points at the ends. If you want a stiff bottom, use this as a pattern to cut a bottom from a heavy piece of cardboard. Place the cardboard inside the stuffed needlepoint.
Pin to one side of the bottom to of the object, right sides together, and hand-sew with a running stitch. Now pin to the other side and blind stitch the side closed.
You may find that you need to settle the object to make it stand straight because the weights are uneven (that’s why I used the pie weights).
This is a flexible method of finishing needlepoint. It will work for everything from a small Christmas ornament to a standing fgure 4 feet tall.
This needlepoint instruction shows you how to do clumping, an easy way to use hand-dyed and overdyed threads. Areas done in clumping are done in two passes, the first pass is easiest to do in Continental, while the second pass can be done in Basketweave or Continental.
In the samples, I have used a shade of overdye which has dramatic color changes for demonstration purposes. Your results will be better when the overdye is more subtle, as in the examples at the end of the needlepoint instruction.
Begin by threading up and starting to stitch in about the middle of the area, right picture. Stitch in a small irregular clump (hence the name) but ONLY until the color of the thread changes. When this happens, move your needle a bit and make another clump, above center. The clumps shouldn’t be more than five stitches wide and high, although this size will depend on how quickly the colors change. The edges of the clumps should be uneven on all sides, so it’s OK to skip stitches, even within the clumps, left picture.
Continue to do this until at least two thirds of the area has clumps, above left. Clumps can be next to each other, above center, which is especially nice to create larger clumps of the same color. Or they can be separated by several stitches, middle picture.
For the second step, begin in the upper left or lower right corner of the area an fill in all the open stitches. above. Because you are using the same overdye, sometimes these stitches will fill out the clumps and sometimes the color will be different, but that’s part of the fun.
The piece at the top of the page shows areas of clumping as used in actual designs. It uses a matte cotton thread to depict distant crop-covered hills. I have used Gloriana Silk in a stained glass design to mimic the effect of Tiffany art glass (available free on Nuts about Needlepoint).
I find myself using this technique often to create stone walls, brick houses, and lots more. It’s a great way to control hand-dyed and overdyed threads.
This technique is particularly effective to create the effect. of “art” glass when adapting stained glass to your needlepoint.
Right now sitting on my desk are lots of Christmas needlepoint ornaments. One of them, Petei’s Alice in Wonderland, could be a stand-up except for one thing – I can’t hide the hanger.
But finisher Susan Thompson has developed a unique solution for this problem. Her small stand-ups can double as ornaments, or is it that her ornaments can double as stand-ups?
Anyhow, the back of the ornament has a button attached to it. When it’s not Christmas, you can hide the hanger by looping it onto the button. It’s just the coolest idea!
You can take a needlepoint, such as the buffalo here, and add the button to the fabric on the back before you finished it. Just be sure to make the loop long enough.
The best thing is to do this from the beginning. But you can add a button to the back of an stuffed ornament. Press the loop against the back of the ornament and make a mark near the bottom of the loop. This shows you where to add the button.
Find a compatible button and one 1/2” or less in diameter. Using a curved needle (sometimes called an upolstery needle) and some pearl cotton, sew the button securely to the back of the ornament.
One last note, curved needles are sharp and long, so be careful.
I love this idea, it’s a great way to show off those small pieces of stitching all year long.