Scale in Needlepoint
You’re beginning needlepoint, you’ve found a design you love, but it’s the wrong size. What do you do now?
Don’t give up! There are simple tricks you can use to change the scale of the design by changing the mesh size of the canvas or by substituting one stitch for another.
In this beginning needlepoint article I’ll show you two ways to do this, with pictures of the results. The first way changes the sizes of the stitches. The second changes the mesh size of the canvas.
Changing Stitch Sizes
One way to alter the scale of needlepoint dramatically is to change the size of the basic stitch unit. You can think of the Tent Stitch or a Cross Stitch as having a size of 1. It is a square covering 1 thread on all sides, or 1 square unit.
The picture at the top of this article shows you the patch used to create this sample, which is 15 threads per side, this would be a perfect size for a dollhouse pillow, as in 1:12 scale it is equal to a 10 inch pillow.
By picking another stitch in the same shape (a square in this case) but of a different size, even those beginning needlepoint can change scale.
If you expand the side of the square to 2 threads, and use a Mosaic Stitch (a square stitch covering 2 threads per side), the area is now 4 square units. Replacing each symbol on the chart with a Mosaic stitch results in a patch which is 30 threads on a side.
If you want to make it even bigger, replace the Mosaic Stitches with Giant Scotch Stitches. which cover four threads per side. As you can see from the picture above (one-quarter of design shown), this is really large and makes a very dramatic statement. The finished patch is 60 threads per side (or about 3 inches square). A single quilt block done like this makes a great ornament.
If you want to go even bigger, replace the Giant Scotch with another, bigger square stitch, like Waffle. The key to making variations is to make sure that each new stitch unit (which may be made up of more than one stitch) is a square. This allows even someone beginning needlepoint to expand the size with ease.
Changing Mesh Sizes
The picture directly above is the patch done on Congress Cloth, which has about 24 mesh per inch. So the finished size is a little bit over 1/2 inch. You can clearly see that the smaller scale adds a certain delicacy to the design.
This final picture, above, is of the patch done on 14 mono canvas, so the finished size is about an inch. Moving to even larger mesh sizes would make even larger patches. For example on 10 mesh, the finished size would be about 1.5 inches. On 7 mesh (rug canvas), it would be 2 inches.
Combining different mesh sizes with the larger scale stitches adds even more possibilities.
Applying this to your Needlepoint
Knowing that you can change the size of your design in these simple ways makes it easy to customize your needlepoint. Here’s how I did it with a design I’m working on.
Draw the design on a piece of graph paper. I use 10 squares per inch because it’s easy to count.
Count up the size of the design. Mine is 82 threads square. On 18 mesh it would be 4.5 inches. On 14mesh it would be almost 6 inches. On 24 it would be about 3.5 inches.
Choose the stitch scale. The measurements above are based on Basketweave. If I wanted it twice the size, I’d pick Mosaic and the size would be 9”, 12”, and 7”. So if I wanted a pillow, I could pick Mosaic and 14 mesh.
If I wanted it four times the size, I’d pick Giant Scotch and the size would be 18”, 24”, and 14”. Probably too big.
Pick your canvas, threads, and stitch based on the end result.
With these rules, even those beginning needlepoint can customize designs beautifully.