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where you can design your own Needlepoint!

Official blog of – where you can design your own Needlepoint Kit!

Archive for the ‘How to NeedlePoint’ Category

A New Bible for Needlepoint

The 3rd edition of Jo Ippolito Christensen’s The Needlepoint Book is out. I hadn’t imagined that this bible of needlepointing could get any better but it has!

Needlepoint Book Cover

Needlepoint Book Cover

The new edition includes expanded discussion of techniques for stitching and design as well as 225 new color plates and over 40 new stitches. I haven’t absorbed even half of the new material, but I have already spotted some new ideas for my next Needlepaint project — open work on belts. (Give me a couple of weeks and I will let you know how it works.)

I have both the print and eBook version and I like them for different reasons. I am a bit of a book snob and I love my paper versions — thus the print. However, I travel a lot and in order to keep my suitcase light, I got the eBook. I am delighted with both. A plus to the eBook is the color plates which can be enlarged on the screen to view details. The plus to the print version is ease of finding and comparing stitches.

And, this is not all that comes with the new edition. There is going to be a stitch app for our mobile devices. It isn’t out yet, but for those who by the print or eBook you need to go to  from your mobile device and enter your  information. Simon & Schuster will notify you with your download code as soon as the app is made available. I can’t wait!

Needlepaint a Quilt

After Needlepaint began carrying the Brown Sheep Waverly wool, I decided that I needed to attack a large project — a 20” by 24” rug on 12 point canvas. For design ideas, I turned to my quilting sister, Mary Sue Suit, who never ceases to amaze me with her unique designs based on triangles.

We finally chose her Pansy Quilt which was quilted by Judy Woodworth. Why we chose it, I don’t know, but maybe it had something to do with pansies being one of my favorite flowers and my granddaughter loves purple. Usually Mary Sue gives her quilts names but this one is nameless…. We welcome suggestions.

Pansies Quilt

Pansies Quilt

The straight lines of the triangles meant the quilt design transferred easily to a custom needlepoint canvas.  I worked the canvas with all 3 strands of the Waverly wool and chose one of the variegated colors for the light lavender of the above design. For the backing we used medium-weight wool. The finished rug makes a beautiful accent to the spectacular quilt.  The same pattern could be down sized for an 18 point miniature needlepoint hanging. Or, one could turn the center pansy medallion into a 12 or 14 point pillow. The possibilities are limited only by one’s tolerance for pansies which don’t have to be purple.


Pansy Quilt Rig Color Guide

Pansy Quilt Rig Color Guide


Needlepaint can print canvases up to 36” by 40” and we recommend 10 or 12 point canvas for rugs. I chose 12 point canvas because I wanted the finished rug to be firm without having to use a heavy backing or filler.

Needlepoint Rug and Quilt

Needlepoint Rug and Quilt

Needlepoint Peacock Stitches Update!

Lauren has been busy on her peacock canvas.

This custom needlepoint kit is based on one of her paintings.

Nice work Lauren, I can’t wait to see the next update!

You can preview your own custom needlepoint project on our website –

Needlepoint Peacock Stitches

Needlepoint Peacock Stitches

Metallic Needlepoint Threads

Cape of MaltaAfter a visit to the Legion of Honor Museum in Paris, I got inspired to retry some metallic threads. What prompted was this magnificent cape. It doesn’t show well in this picture, but all of the designs are stitched with glistening metallic thread. If you click on the image, for a better view of the details.

Any way, I had some metallic DMC thread in the selection of threads that I had with me on my trip and decided that I should dress up the stockings a bit. I had used the thread before and found working with it difficult. It cracked easily and my needle slipped off easily.

Candy CanesFirst lesson: Use it sparingly. I liked what I got when I added it as an accent to the bow on the candy canes. The underlying yellow was done in a modified satin stitch and the gold thread was stitched over one out of three yellow satin stitches.

Second lesson: Be patient and take it slowly.

Third lesson: Avoid the continental stitch. It was the only alternative for the tops of the ornaments and shouldn’t have used it on the blue and white ornament.


I am still working on the stocking and am contemplating where to use more metallic threads and beads. Stocking should be finished for my next post.

How to Choose the Right Needlepoint Canvas

We get a fair amount of orders from people who are purchasing custom needlepoint projects as gifts for other people (especially around Christmas).

One of the most common questions we get is what is the “correct” mesh count to purchase and how “easy” is the design.

To start out, there is no “correct” mesh count as different stitchers prefer different counts.  

For a newbie learning about needlepoint, the mesh count stands for the number of stitches in one linear inch.  That means you measure 1 inch along a line on the canvas, and count the number holes.  A 10 mesh count means there are 10 holes per inch.  A 18 mesh count canvas means that there are 18 holes per inch.  This may not sound like a lot, but to a stitcher it is a HUGE difference.  If you consider that 10 mesh count canvas has 100 stitches in a square inch and 18 mesh count has 324 stitches per sq. in. that means that the stitcher has a LOT more stitching to do if you order 18 mesh count canvas.  Thus, I suggest not ordering 18 count canvas on any design that is wider or taller than 12 inches.  For smaller canvases it is OK to use 18 mesh count because it allows the design to show a lot more detail. Some stitchers do prefer more detail at larger sizes, so this is just a guideline for reference.

Things to consider when choosing mesh count:

  • The stitchers eyesight.  18 count has more stitches per inch, so the holes are a lot smaller and harder to see.  10 mesh has the largest holes.  If she has weakening eyesight, you may want to avoid 18 mesh count canvas.  14 or larger should be OK.
  • Fiber preference.  Needlepointers love to work with a lot of different fibers, the most common are wool, cotton, and silk.  13 and 14 mesh count canvas will work with almost any fiber and are the most commonly used canvas today.  If the stitcher prefers wool, you may want to use a canvas with 14, 12, or 10 mesh count.  With 18 count canvas we only supply cotton, but there are other fibers that will work, just not as many.
  • The design details.  Higher mesh counts (18 and 14) will show more detail than the larger mesh counts (12 and 10).  Belt canvases often come on 18 mesh count canvas because you need the extra stitches to show designs on an area that is so limited in height.  If your design is very detailed or you want to fit a lot into a smaller area, you will want to use 18 mesh count.  But, if you try the 14 mesh count option on the website and still think it looks good, you can use that too.
  • The design size. If you find that you need more detail but have to use larger holes, you can always increase the overall size of the design, this an alternative way to increase the detail, but does add to the cost of the project.  Typically I think the sweet spot for design size is around 12 x 8 inches.
  • To see how to adjust the mesh count and height, watch our how to design a pillow instructional video.
Carrots of Many Colors 10 mesh count vs 18 mesh count canvas

Carrots of Many Colors 10 mesh count vs 18 mesh count canvas. The 18 mesh is on the right and shows a lot more detail.

Next we have the “easy” question, or degree of difficulty.

This is very subjective, but there are some obvious guidelines that can help you determine how difficult a project will be to stitch.

  • The number of colors.  Often, the more colors there are on a canvas the trickier it will be to stitch.  This is especially true with photo needlepoint canvas designs.  The shadowing and gradients get harder to see the more colors there are.  Also the thread colors get very close, so even they get hard to tell apart.  When stitched this looks amazing, but a beginner stitcher may find this very tedious.  Typically I recommend keeping the number of colors below 20 if possible.  If you are using the website and want help, feel free to email us, we’d be happy to help!
  • The nature of the design.  If you are using a photo there is often a lot of intricacy in the placement of the stitches.  Easier canvases will group the colors together in larger blocks, so the stitcher does not need to change thread every third stitch.  Designs and artwork with plain colors and patterns often are the easiest to stitch as the contrast between the colors is big and the patterns are simple to follow.  The dog needlepoint designs we have on our website range from moderate to difficult, the new stitcher can do a moderate design, but it will take them a while.  The original artist needlepoint designs we have licensed are easy to moderate, mostly they go in the easy category.  And our baby and kids designs all are also in the easy realm.
Carrots of Many Colors 25 colors vs 11 colors

Carrots of Many Colors 25 colors on left vs 11 colors on right.  Notice the white carrots loose detail.  Not a very big difference to the eye, but to the stitcher 25 colors would be significantly harder.

If you decide to reduce the number of colors, but notice something that you would like adjusted, go ahead and place your order and email us the image you used, we can touch up the design for you!

Photo To Needlepoint Stitched!

Check out the photo needlepoint canvas that one of our customers just finished!

This was done on 18 mesh, and the detail is amazing.  She used a stitch counted canvas, and you can see why I think our photo to needlepoint process really is the best way to stitch a photo.

That said, really it is the stitcher who should be congratulated for her work.  Nice work MJ!!!

(Click this link in case you missed the blog discussing the photo vs stitch counted needlepoint canvases)

photo to needlepoint portrait

The traveling group photo is below, and the finished needlepoint photo portrait is above, Amazing!

Hats are Fab! Add a Needlepoint Hat Band

Hats in France

Hats in France

Travel is fun. Sometimes it brings new creative ideas and other times it reinforces your own. On my recent trip to France, I was delighted to see that dressy summer hats were IN, and what was I working on but the two remaining hat bands shown in my recent blog.

Girl's Hat webSharktooth Hat 2 Web

I put the American Indian floral design on a hat for my 3-year-old granddaughter. The hat band was longer than needed so I overlapped the ends when sewing it on the hat. That way, as she grows I can change the band to a larger hat. This design makes me think of weddings. Imagine a summer wedding with bridesmaids and flower girls in straw hats with floral needlepoint hat bands!

The Hawaiian Shark Tooth tattoo custom needlepoint hat band went onto an adult straw western hat. The band was a little smaller than the large hat so I made an adjustable button closure with braided thread to match as shown in the detail below.

Sharktooth Hat Detail web

Photo Needlepoint Canvas Vs Stitch Counted Canvases

We posted about photo needlepoint canvases over a year ago, but last week I had a few orders come in where I thought the photo canvases would make more sense than a stitch counted canvas.

Here is a link to the post from last year:

But, I’m going to save you the time and repost the important differences so you know which options is the best for you.  Also, I have a new project that I took pictures of as a test, that I think really shows the difference well.  (see below)

Stitch Counted Canvases:  Our system has been developed to work best on photographs.  It groups similar colors together and matches them to the fiber you choose.  It creates a stitch counted design which  we print onto the canvas.  This means every stitch on the canvas has an exact color that is also shown on the stitch charts that come with every kit.  To see the stitch charts click here.  This works really well, and if you’ve seen some of the projects on this blog, you’ll know how good the stitch counted canvases look when finished.  Most of our customers prefer this option because they will know all the colors they need and can follow the canvas exactly.  Almost all of the pictures of canvases on this blog and on the website are stitch counted canvases.

Photo Needlepoint:  This works very well with graphic illustrations, like the artwork below.  If you are stitching a cartoon or a file with text, the letters will come out more clearly with a “photo” canvas.  ALSO, some of our customers prefer to have more detail on the canvas, and match the colors themselves.  The photo canvases will look more crisp than the stitch counted canvas.

If you prefer a photo canvas, just email us the photo when you place your order and we’ll make the adjustment for you.

Here is a good picture that shows the difference.  But, please keep in mind that the example below is a very small canvas, and the larger the size the better the stitch counted designs come out.

photo needlepoint on left vs stitch counted needlepoint on right

photo needlepoint on left vs stitch counted needlepoint on right

You can clearly see how the stitch counted canvas has lost some of the detail from the illustration.  This loss of detail does not happen nearly as much with photos of people or animals, but if we notice your design may be helped by doing a photo canvas, we will let you know.

If you want to needlepoint a photo, try creating the design on our website: and see how you like it.  If you want help, contact us and we’d be happy to assist.

How to Measure a Needlepoint Belt

We’ve really had a great time designing needlepoint belts this year.  One request we keep sending out is to show people how to measure a needlepoint belt.

I figured that we may as well write a blog post about this, so more people who are searching can learn how to measure a belt.

Actually, this was a mystery for me for a long time, as some companies belt sizes seem to vary from others, and I never understood why.

Basically, the key to figuring out a belt size, is to measure from the end of the belt (not the belt buckle – see left side marked A) to the center hole (see  right side marked B).  Click on the image below to see it more clearly.

How to measure a Needlepoint Belt

How to measure a Needlepoint Belt

This explains why some companies with longer metal buckles would have differences from belt size to belt size.

If you are stitching a custom needlepoint belt canvas and having it finished with leather belt ends, you’ll also want to know how much to stitch.

With our leather belt ends, you can calculate this by subtracting 8 inches from the belt size.  This is what we refer to as the visible area.  Then from here, we add two extra inches of background color to each side (the belt buckle will cover up this area).

Also, I’ve been going back and forth with finishers on a rolled edge vs using a binding stitch.  We have found a finisher who does not charge extra for doing a rolled edge, so it is a matter of preference.

Needlepoint Belt Binding Stitch

Needlepoint Belt Binding Stitch

Needlepoint Belt Rolled Edge

Needlepoint Belt Rolled Edge

If you prefer the rolled edge, then you will need to stitch two extra rows above and below the design, so the finisher can wrap the canvas under.

If you are looking for needlepoint belt ideas, check out our needlepoint belt canvas section, or have a look through our needlepoint belt blog posts.  If you have something else in mind, we’d be happy to design a custom belt canvas for you!

Needlepoint Photo Portraits

Stitchers are always looking for fun new projects, and boy do we have great ideas!

This week, I want to show off some of the photo needlepoint portraits that we’ve made recently.

You can see three of the canvases on our workshop table.


Photo Needlepoint Portraits and Other Fun Projects!

Photo Needlepoint Portraits and Other Fun Projects!

There is one important thing if you are creating a photo needlepoint project that these three have in common.  This is that each of these is a close up of a single face or upper body.  This allows you to really catch the detail of the subject and not worry about the background.  In some cases, you can get two people to come out as well as these, but most often a single subject is the best.

If you want help taking your photo to needlepoint, you can try our website and see the preview of your custom needlepoint canvas for free!

If you don’t like how the colors are coming out, or want help cropping or editing your photo, or even want help starting from scratch, you can contact us directly, and we’d be happy to assist.

Also note, we match every kit that is a portrait (both human and animal) to the photo.  So, if the colors seem a little off, don’t worry, we’ll adjust them.  Computers are great tools, but still no substitute for the human eye!