How To Needlepoint

Are you ready to learn how to needlepoint? We will show you all you really need to know.

By now you probably have a design you want to stitch. if not, we have some wonderful needlepoint kits right here on our site. Just click the Kits link in the top Navigation.

Firstly, watch our video for how-to-needlepoint instructions that won't confuse, fluster or stress you out.......

How to Needlepoint video   (6 minutes)

Now read on for a bit more information that will help you learn how to needlepoint without frustration.


How To Needlepoint - The Canvas.

Needlepoint uses an open weave canvas. The holes come in various sizes but the stitching instructions are the same for whatever type of canvas you have.

Click the link to learn more about the different types of needlepoint canvas
Chances are you have a canvas with the design printed on it. In that case....
The first thing you need to do is bind the edges of the needlepoint canvas with masking or artist's tape. This will prevent your thread from snagging on the raw edges of the canvas.
Use 1 inch wide tape or smaller. Instead of masking tape you can hem the edges with your sewing machine, or fold the edges over and baste them down like a hem using a piece of thread. This will avoid any frustration further down the track with the masking tape pulling off. It especially likes to do this in hot and humid weather!

How To Needlepoint - Should I Use A Needlepoint Frame?

The short answer is ... if you like!

A needlepoint frame will keep your work clean, it will keep your needlepoint taut and make it easier to work, and it will also help prevent some distortion of the canvas.

However, using a frame is optional and you can certainly stitch with the needlepoint canvas simply held in your lap. You might find this easier if it is a small design you are working, or if you intend to carry your canvas around with you a lot - take it to dentist appointments, kids sports games etc. So, really, this is a personal preference.

needlepoint stretcher bars form a frame

A needlepoint frame is typically made of 4 bars pushed together to form a square or rectangle. These are called stretcher bars; they are relatively inexpensive and you can find them here.

We told you this how-to-needlepoint tutorial would always show you the easy route, didn't we?

How To Needlepoint - Choose A Needle

When learning how to needlepoint, you will need a tapestry needle.  A tapestry needle has a blunt end and a large eye so it is easy (sort of) to thread the yarn through. You might want to buy a small package of needles as they are not expensive and they do tend to get lost! 

The following is a general guide for needle size for each canvas mesh size:

Size 16 needle - 8-mesh canvas

Size 18 needle - 10-mesh canvas

Size 20 needle - 12 - 14-mesh canvas

Size 22 needle - 16 - 18-mesh canvas

For some reason the larger the number, the smaller the needle (don't ask us why, we just work here!). If the needle fits through the hole without distorting the canvas mesh and you are not having to tug at it like a dog on a leash, then your needle size is probably OK. And that's all you really need to know.

How To Needlepoint - The Yarn

If you are stitching a needlepoint kit then you do not need to worry about how much yarn you will need as the kit manufacturer has solved this problem for you.

However, if you have to buy your own wool or thread then you will need to work out how much yarn is required.

We have a couple of ways you can estimate needlepoint yarn quantities. You might also be confused as to the type of  needlepoint thread and yarn to use. 

How To Needlepoint - Basic Needlepoint Stitches

Now we are getting to the fun part - how to make a stitch. Learning how to needlepoint is easy so far, huh?


Watch this six minute How To Needlepoint video (again if necessary).

And, click on the link below to learn the basic needlepoint stitches.

Come back here when you're done.  

How To Needlepoint - How to start and end a thread

The How To Needlepoint video you just watched would have explained where on your canvas to start (although starting anywhere is just fine). Here's a bit more information on how to start and end a needlepoint thread.

How To Needlepoint - Block Your Canvas

Once you have finished stitching your project, you can bet your last dollar that it will have distorted into a parallelogram. This happens regardless of how perfectly you have made your stitch tension, or sometimes even if you used a frame.


You will need to know how to block needlepoint, which really means stretch it back into shape.

How To Needlepoint - Finishing Ideas

Once you have stitched your masterpiece, you will want to do something with it. We have instructions for how to frame needlepoint and how to make an ornament.

If you want to turn your stitched canvas into a pillow or ornament then you can send it in to us for professional needlepoint finishing. We have some of the best prices around. 

How To Needlepoint - General Instructions

A good set of instructions for how to needlepoint is not complete without some general tips.
  • As you stitch, your thread will probably become twisted. It will knot up if you don't attend to it. Every few stitches, let the needle dangle so it can unwind.
  • When learning how to needlepoint, pay attention to the tension of the stitch. In other words don't pull the thread through too tightly. The stitch should sit relaxed, "zen-like", on the canvas. If you pull too tightly the canvas will buckle and become misshapen. if you do not pull the thread through securely enough then the stitches will sit up and you won't have an even look to your needlepoint. This will all come with practice so don't sweat it too much.

    Click this link for more needlepoint instruction and tips.

    Most of all, enjoy and don't sweat it - needlepoint is easy to learn and you will get better with practice. And, of course, contact us with any questions - we are always glad to help.