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.
Diamond & Square
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.
Cross & Fleur de Lis
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.
Looking for More Ideas?
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.