The easiest form of needlepoint instruction for adapting other crafts is when the craft is charted and done with square stitches. Charted Crochet on a hooked grid, known as Filet Crochet, fits the bill perfectly, as you can see by the needlepoint adaptation above.
This technique uses charts with the symbols for the solid stitches in the squares of the chart as in the picture below. Stitch each grid symbol on a intersection of canvas and you have needlepoint. Because many Filet Crochet charts are older, it can be a rich source of copyright-free designs.
Filet Crochet is always stitched in a single color, so any chart, no matter the technique, which has a square grid and only a single color, can be adapted to this look.
It’s easy to do needlepoint from the chart, but what if you want that lacy grid around the solid design which is so characteristic of filet crochet?
Begin by choosing threads and canvas with a good contrast in color between the two. Traditionally Filet Crochet was done with white threads, but pick a color and stitch on white canvas. For the example, I’ve used a hand-dyed white thread on Victorian Green canvas.
Start by stitching the chart in the middle of the canvas. Usually it works best to start at the middle of the chart. Once this is stitched begin to make the grid. A horizontal or vertical stitch, going over two threads will be made in every other hole, resulting in a grid which looks like the left sample above. If you put the connecting stitch every fourth hole, you get a bigger gird, as in the sample on the right.
Make the grid as large as you want. The end result will be a solid design against an obvious grid, just like Filet Crochet, but in needlepoint.
Here are some sites on the Internet to check out with free Filet Crochet designs:
I hope this needlepoint instruction will encourage you to adapt this technique to make some unusual needlepoint.
When there is so much from which to choose, what needlepoint background stitches do you use?
Sometimes a textured stitch is too much, but plain old Tent Stitch is too dull and looks too flat.
One solution often used, especially in the 70’s, was Tent Stitch patterns in two different colors. To our eyes, the look is way too loud.
But what if instead of different colors, you used different textures of the same color? You can see this on the upper left and upper right patches in this Whimsy & grace purse, above.
The result, as you can see from the picture, is subtle, but not dull. The pattern can still be seen, but it is in the background, creating a sophisticated look.
The key is to pick the right threads. The stitching minimizes texture contrast so pick two threads which are very different. A shiny thread, such as pearl cotton or ribbon floss, works well with a matte thread such as wool. Metallic threads need to be combined with something smooth and matte like floss, silk floss, or linen.
If you are unsure of the contrast, stitch a square of each thread on a doodle canvas. If you can see the dividing line clearly, there is probably enough contrast.
Like damask fabric or wallpaper, needlepoint background stitches made as damask rely on this texture contrast for pattern.
In the charts below, only the motif is charted. The blank intersections would be stitched in the second, more matte, thread.
These two patterns use simple shapes in alternating rows. The squares pattern is further accented by adding a single stitch in metallic in the center of every other square.
The charts for these two patterns are below.
Chinese Lattice designs are wonderfully geometric and the source of many possible patterns. These two designs fill in areas of the lattice to make a damask pattern.
The lower one was used in the purse pictured at the top of the page.
Creating needlepoint damask patterns can be addictive. Any book which has patterns for needlepoint can be a source for them.
Ruth Schmuff has a CD of patterns which will work well as damasks.
Dover has several inexpensive volumes of needlework charts based on folk art which have many patterns which will work.
I love to buy old needlepoint books which have patterns in them. Two of my favorite sources for damask patterns are Sheila Martin & Mimi Selick’s Patterned Backgrounds for Needlepoint and B. Borssuck’s 1001 Designs for Needlepoint and Cross Stitch.
The next time you are looking for needlepoint background stitches, give needlepoint damask a try — you’ll love the results.
This needlepoint instruction will serve as a guide to help you make good choices of stitches and color to give an impression of space in needlepoint.
Achieving perspective in drawing is hard (I never got the hang of it), but taking something painted or drawn for you and making the choices to enhance the perspective already there turns you needlepoint into something superb.
Without doing this, your needlepoint looks flat. The color and stitch choices are similar enough that they flatten the piece so that everything looks jammed up at the front of the design.
Or even worse, the color or stitch choice doesn’t conform to the principles of perspective and so the shape of things and the colors or stitches of those same things don’t match. I don’t know about you, but this kind of problem makes me vaguely uneasy.
But you can avoid this so easily. You don’t need to do anything new, you don’t need to learn a new technique, you just need to apply what you know to the needlepoint before you. While this needlepoint instruction might seem long, it’s mostly explanation, the things you need to do to achieve great perspective in your needlepoint are quite simple.
We’ll refer to the Waterlilies piece, shown in process at the top of the article as an example throughout this needlepoint instruction.
Perspective is the method by which we translate the three dimensional world into a two dimensional picture. In other words, it’s the way we draw things so they look “normal.”
The method to draw things in perspective is complicated, and there are many methods to do this. As stitchers we don’t have to worry about drawing, just picking the right combination. You’ll learn how to do so right here.
Want to learn about perspective? Just look out your window or at a photograph of a landscape. The principles of perspective will be right there in front of you.
There are three things to remember. As elements get farther away they get:
Once you know this, you know everything you need to make choices about stitches and color in stitching your needlepoint. Now just use the tips in this needlepoint instruction to apply these principles to your design.
Begin by thinking about color. Let’s say you have four leaves, as we do in Waterlilies. You can tell by the shapes that they overlap, so there is distance pictured.
The leaf closest to the center is on top, but behind the flower. You can tell how close items are in line drawings by seeing how much of their outline is shown. The closest item will show a complete outline. Those at the back will show the least.
The leaves move backwards as we move to the left side of the drawing. So they should be shaded from light to dark, going from center to left. The unstitched leaf on top is clearly behind the top two leaves, but you can’t see enough of it to see if it’s behind the bottom leaf or not, I decided it was and made it the darkest color.
By deciding this you made the most important and easiest decision in this whole needlepoint instruction. You have probably already picked threads or pictured colors in your mind. Now you just use this principle to apply them correctly onto the canvas.
Light colors go in front of dark colors.
Bright colors go in front of dull colors.
In a sequence of items which are on top of each other, always shade from light and bright on top to dark and dull on bottom.
As elements in a design get farther away they get less detailed. Your choice of stitches should reflect this. Stitches have size, based on how many threads a stitch covers. For these three leaves, stitches of three different sizes were chosen, enhancing the feeling of space. The top leaf is stitched in Needlepoint Stem Stitch, which covers four threads. The middle leaf is stitched in Smyrna Cross, which covers two threads. The back leaf is stitched in Basketweave, which covers one thread.
Everything you need to know about choosing stitches to enhance perspective is here: Stitches get smaller as they get farther away.
Although this piece doesn’t use this technique as stitchers we have another tool at our disposal for making perspective, our choice of thread. Threads have size too. The thicker the thread, to more forward an area of that thread becomes.
So, if this piece was n 14 mesh and I wanted to show perspective with threads, I might stitch the top leaf in #3 pearl cotton, the middle leaf in #5 pearl cotton, and the bottom leaf in floss.
This is more subtle than the other two methods of showing perspective, but it a piece seems a bit off, take a look at thread texture, that might be the problem.
Now wasn’t that easy?
Even if you only know a couple of stitches, or even just one, and if you are stitching using one kind of thread, you can use the rules in this needlepoint instruction to enhance the perspective in your needlepoint and give it a spacious, realistic feel.
Use the Overcast Stitch, above, to join two pieces of needlepoint together with a seam which will not show on the finished piece Essentially this stitch is a kind of seam which joins together two pieces of needlepoint.
There are two methods of making this stitch. One looks like a big Tent Stitch and the other is a form of Cross Stitch. The Tent Stitch version is a form of overcasting. In it you bring the needle UP on one of the pieces of canvas and DOWN in the diagonal mesh up and to the right of the first mesh on the second piece of canvas. This can join two pieces of canvas invisibly and is often used when you need to bind pieces together for something like a rug. In order for it to work, the two pieces of canvas must be lined up evenly.
This stitch is also used to finish the edges of turned under needlepoint, such as the edges of needlepoint belts. It creates a smooth finish ans, when done properly, it is almost invisible.
Binding Stitch, above, is used when you are making a three dimensional object, like a box or a Christmas ornament, the Cross Stitch form of binding is more forgiving and more sturdy than Overcast Stitch. It is also called Interlaced Cross Stitch. In this stitch you make a Cross Stitch over two threads of canvas. Like the Overcast Stitch, it should come up on one piece of canvas and down on the other. Now finish the cross stitch with a stitch over the other diagonal. To make the next cross stitch come up in the empty hole of the first cross stitch and begin your next cross there.If you alternate the colors of the crosses, abraided effect is the result which is very lovely and strong.
These stitches are both essential stitches to use for finishing needlepoint.