In this needlepoint instruction, you’ll learn how easy it is to adapt stained glass patterns to needlepoint. Not only are these patterns perfect to adapt, available in all kinds of styles; they are easy to find and inexpensive.
I’ve been stitching needlepoint from stained glass patterns for over 35 years and I never tire of this rich source of design.
In general, the patterns which work best for needlepoint are patterns for stained glass of the type often seen in homes, both new and old. These use pieces of glass, cut into shapes and joined together with strips of lead to make a pane for a window.
They were popular decorations in homes during the 19th and early 20th century.After that it fell out of popularity until it was revived in the 70’s. It continues to be popular today.
My favorite source of stained glass patterns is Dover’s pattern series. These books have copyright-free drawings in many styles. You can find renderings of actual glass patterns as well as new designs in almost every style.
If you want patterns that are not widow shapes, look for their books of suncatcher designs.
Another source is Glass Patterns Quarterly. This magazine has full size patterns included in it for all kinds of projects, small and large. It also has lovely and inspiring pictures of finished glass.
This site, Warner Stained Glass, has over 1200 lovely free patterns. Click on a subject then on a picture to get a pattern to print out. This Canadian site has about 50 patterns in various styles.
Finally, look for stained glass patterns on Pinterest.
The needlepoint instruction to adapt the pattern is simple. Begin by placing your pattern under the blank canvas. Line it up so the straight lines are along threads of the canvas.
Using a permanent marker made for making fabric, trace the pattern onto the canvas. You can use dark lines for this, since these lines will be covered by the “leading.”
Once the design is traced, you can begin to stitch. Although adding the leading is a late step in making the glass, it is the first step in stitching it. Find a dark gray thread. I often use Kreinik braid in 010HL or 011HL which are very dark gray.
Stitch all the outlines using Continental Stitch. This defines the areas for stitching.
Once the outline is complete, pick your colors and stitches for each of the areas and stitch away.
If you want the look of Tiffany or “art” glass, you will want to use hand-dyed or overdyed thread and a technique I called clumping for the way the areas in the original art glass look.
This technique creates irregular blobs of color which look like this type of glass. You can learn all about it in this needlepoint instruction.
The sample picture shows this background in progress. The left side is completely stitched, while the right side is in progress. In person, the effect is very subtle. The background on the magnolia sohws a completed piece with this type of background.
Bargello Needlepoint is almost always made from straight stitches going over a number of threads, usually four. Thee pattern is made by proceeding in steps up a usually a fixed number of threads. More than one stitch can be on the same step, making a horizontal line of stitches.
To make a Bargello stitch bring your needle out of the canvas in a hole.
Count straight up the required number of stitches (four here).
Then bring the needle back into the canvas.
To make a second stitch on the same step, repeat the process in the column of holes next to the stitch you just made.
To go up or down a step, in the next column of holes count up or down the required number of holes.
The illustration is a step of two threads.
Bring your needle out of the canvas in that hole and make a stitch.
These steps are placed together to form a Bargello patterns, similar to this line pictured above.
To stitch a pattern begin at one side and follow the pattern step by step.
With this you can stitch many simple Bargello needlepoint patterns.
Gobelin Stitch is the family name for needlepoint stitches which are longer than one thread and are not part of Cross or Box Stitches. They can be upright, Straight Gobelin, slanted on the true diagonal, Diagonal Gobelin, or, slanted along another diagonal, making an oblique stitch.
Straight Gobelin can be any length you like as long as it crosses at least two canvas threads and is made in a straight line. Stitches crossing only one thread are not stable on needlepoint canvas and should be avoided.
A fun way to use this stitch in a border is to make a stitch called Beaty. In it pairs of stitches alternate between two different lengths. They are faced with another set of stitches which are a mirror image. You can also make this stitch in two different threads, alternating by pairs of Gobelin Stitches or by rows.
A useful tool you can make yourself is a needlepoint thread directory. This notebook becomes a kind of “book of all knowledge” and reference for information about the threads you use.
For each thread you should have a page or half page. Include on it, the name of the thread, the fiber content, the type, of thread, then manufacturer, contact information for them, the place you bought it if it is an unusual thread, and the mesh size you like to use it on.
Then leave some space for notes. The needlepoint thread directory becomes a work in progress of threads and the way I use them.
I also usually stitch two 1 inch patches with any thread I try. One patch is Basketweave (on left). In addition to giving me a baseline for mesh size, this patch also tells me right away if the thread has variations in color because they will be so apparent.
Whenever possible use medium-to-light colors for these samples. Dark threads tend to obscure any stitching you do. This makes them hard to use as a reference.
Finally, I stitch one or more patches in decorative stitches, often ones which are new to me. This way I learn new stitches, but I also learn more about how the thread works. If I have ideas about how to use the thread, I also try them out here.
Another option is to use the stitch on a canvas and include a full-size picture of it in the notebook.
I use double-sided tape to paste these to the page and note the decorative stitch’s name and where I found it.
If I have a color card or if there is one on-line, I also note that. And I note similar threads, so substitutions are easier.
If you have a favorite shop, note if they carry it, and if you have your threads organized by type, note where it is.
With this needlepoint threads directory, it becomes so easy to plan the threads for a project.
The easiest way to classify a needlepoint thread is by its shape. In stitching you can most easily substitute one thread with another thread of the same shape (or type).
All needlepoint thread of the same type will share characteristics which affect the overall look of your stitches. For example, round threads, whether they are pearl cotton or a metallic braid, will create stitches which are crisp and distinct. Ribbon threads, however, will create a seamless look which sometimes looks like a piece of fabric.
Knowing the characteristics of the thread also helps you know when to use a laying tool, how the thread will cover, and other useful characteristics of each individual thread. In fact, this seems like such a useful bit of information I am going to add it to my notes in the fiber notebooks I am making. It will make your needlepoint look better and be more fun.
All needlepoint thread can be classified as one of three types: round, flat, or stranded.
Round threads cannot easily be divided into smaller groups (i.e. they can’t be plied). And, quite often, the twist of the thread is obvious. Some types of round threads are pearl cotton, Filament silk, metallic braid, or silk perle. If a thread says it is a perle or pearl, that’s a sure tip-off it is a round thread.
Popular types of round threads include, Kreinik metallic braids, Treasure Braid, Trebizond (silk), Silk & Ivory, Grandeur, tapestry and crewel wool, and all sizes of pearl cotton.
Round threads should be used when you want each stitch to be distinct and for padding under top stitching. Often they look better in diagonal stitches than straight stitches.
Chainette threads are a particular type of round thread. They look like a long line of crochet loops and cannot be divided into strands. They can be made thinner, however, by pulling on one end to open the loops. GoldRush from Rainbow Gallery is a chainette thread. They are more popular in Europe and Australia than in North America.
Flat threads are also not divisible and are flat, like ribbons.They are wider than they are thick. They cannot be divided. Silk ribbons for embroidery are one major type of flat threads. Other popular types of flat threads are metallic ribbons and rayon ribbons, like Neon Rays, Flair, or Ribbon Floss.
Flat threads are wonderful for longer stitches because those show off the long straight length of thread. If done in blocks or over a larger area, they can almost look like fabric. This look can be enhanced by padding underneath the top stitches.Most of the time, they need a laying tool to make them look flat.
Some, but not all, flat threads are sized by their width. Silk ribbon, for example, is measured in millimeters, with 4, 7 and 13 being the most common sizes. Kreinik metallic ribbons, however, are measured in inches and come in 1/16 and 1/8 sizes.
Flat threads are also fantastic for Bargello because the stitches are long and the thread fills up the area nicely.
Stranded threads are all those threads which can be easily divided. This encompasses everything from embroidery floss to Persian Wool. Stranded threads are the most flexible threads to use. Because you can divide them, called plying, you can recombine them into smaller or larger groups. Because of this they will work on almost any size of canvas.
When unplied, stranded threads are round. When plied and recombined, a stranded thread becomes a flat thread. This adds to their versatility because you can use them where you would use either of the other types of thread.
The single strands in a plied thread are also round, not flat. This is easiest to see in a thread mostly used plied. Watercolours as it comes from The Caron Collection is a stranded thread, made up of three, two-ply strands, which divide easily. On 18 mesh canvas, one strand is used, and this single strand looks almost like a strand of #5 pearl cotton, a round thread and acts that way in stitching.
Here are some common needlepoint threads and their types:
Pearl Cotton: Round
Persian Wool: Stranded
Kreinik Braid: Round
Embroidery Floss: Stranded
Ribbon Floss: Flat
By remembering the different types of needlepoint thread, you will be able to choose your threads and stitches more carefully.