How to Needlepoint a Line Using an Outline Stitch

What do you do when you need to a stitch line that won’t take an entire tent stitch, or is curved in a circle or a weird shape - like the black lines on this Lisbon Tile needlepoint design...

 Lisbon Tile needlepoint design


The outline stitch is the perfect answer.

The outline stitch can be done in a single row, or you can stitch several rows together in a “packed” sequence. When packed, it’s perfect for straight hair. 

outiline stitch for hair JM-CAR508

Doing the outline stitch is simple. If practicing, draw a straight line on the canvas in pencil. If on your painted canvas, use the “line” you are stitching on the design. We will be stitching left to right. You can turn your canvas so that your stitches are in the appropriate direction. After securing your thread, come up on the far left. Go down one stitch length (about ¼ inch). Keep the thread loose and raised.

Outline stitch
Now the trick for the Outline Stitch is the placement of the thread in relation to the needle and line. The thread should ALWAYS lie above both when you are coming up for the next stitch. Keep your prior stitch loose so that you can easily see the placement of the needle.

Outline Stitch

For your next stitch come back up about half way between the first 2 stitches. Place your thread over your needle and come down one stitch length.  For the rest of the line you will be coming up close to the beginning of the prior stitch.  Repeat until you’ve finished your line.  When the line curves, make your stitches smaller (shorter) to accommodate the curve.

Outline stitches


The packed outline stitch is more of the same, just very close together. It will have a nicer effect if you don’t place your stitches alongside the prior row. Just start the stitch a few rows above or below the adjacent stitch.

Packed outline stitch


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 needlepoint outline stitch