Quality Needlepoint Canvases
Painted, Computer Printed, Screened, or Printed
How do you find quality needlepoint canvases, whether they are part of a needlepoint kit or by themselves? The description of the canvas may say it is hand painted canvas, silk screened, computer printed, or it may say nothing at all, leaving it up to you to figure it out.
The method of putting the design on canvas makes a huge difference in your ability to stitch it. And that impacts quality. I have done hand-painted canvas needlepoint that was so beautiful it almost stitched itself. And I’ve done needlepoint kits which had sides that weren’t straight lines, and everything in between. Buy a poorly made canvas and you’ll hate stitching. Buy good quality needlepoint canvases one and you’ll be hooked for life.
This article explains the terms, what they mean and what they mean for you as a stitcher.
How can I be sure that when I find a canvas it will be a pleasure to stitch? Knowing what you are buying is the key to finding the perfect canvas. The imprecision of a printed canvas can make it difficult for a beginner to know what to stitch. The expense of a hand-painted canvas could put off someone on a limited budget. The keys to picking the perfect canvas are understanding your skills and knowing what you see when you look at a canvas. I can help you understand the terms so you can get the perfect needlepoint canvas.
Painted or Hand painted canvas needlepoint — These terms mean that a person used a brush and paints (usually acrylic) to paint the design onto the canvas. In North America, these canvases are the most popular. They are also the most expensive type of canvas.
Stitch-painted canvas – You see this term more rarely, but it refers to a hand-painted canvas where each individual thread intersection is painted. Many people think this is necessary for great needlepoint. It is not. Because of the time involved in making this type of hand painted canvas needlepoint, stitch-painted canvases can be very expensive.
While stitch-painted canvas makes it easy for you to know exactly what colors go where, not all things need to be stitch painted. Letters and numbers should be precise, and straight lines should be straight. But in many other cases, the precision (and cost) of stitch painting may not be necessary.
Computer-printed or Giclee – This is an emerging area of needlepoint canvases with quality equal to that of painted canvas. The difference is how the design is put onto the canvas. Extremely high-quality printers are used. Many people find it hard to tell the difference between painted and computer-printed. They are often a more affordable option for quality needlepoint canvases.
Screened or Serigraph — These canvases use silkscreening to produce the design. The paint used is oil-based and will look and feel different from acrylic paints. The paint is pushed through a screen so that only the correct areas of the canvas are colored. Generally only very high quality needlepoint kits, such as Elizabeth Bradley or Ehrman, use this method. You can usually tell a screened canvas because the edges of the design are straight.
Printed – These canvases use rolls of canvas and printing presses to put the design on canvas. They also use oil-based paints. Because the designs are mass-produced, edges often do not line up and colors may not change on the intersections. Printing is used for most kits and less expensive canvases. While fun to stitch, these are usually not high quality needlepoint canvases, although they are more affordable.
Line-drawn — These canvases are not colored, but have the outline of the design drawn onto the canvas from a template. Generally line-drawn canvases come with detailed instructions for stitching the design. This is also often the method used for teaching projects. It keeps the cost low but allows the same versatility in stitching you get with a painted canvas.
You can create wonderful needlepoint, no matter how the design gets onto the canvas, so buy the quality needlepoint canvases you love and start to stitch!