How to Needlepoint Hair

1. How To Needlepoint Curly Hair

A great way to stitch curly hair is to use a gathered stitch. This stitch is perfect for curly loops of hair, or for stitching fur or sheep’s wool.

The gathered stitch looks complicated, but it really isn’t.

You will need to use a Chenille needle, which is one with a long eye and a sharp point, because when you stitch a gathered stitch you pierce the thread to gather up the stitch. (A traditional tapestry needle has a long eye and a blunt point).

chenille needle


tapestry needle

It's important to use a twisted thread - one in which the plies that make up the thread have been been twisted together. If you use an untwisted thread, like embroidery cotton, you won’t have any spring in your curls!

Use a long thread so you don't have to tie off and start again very often. If you can, try to do the entire hair using the one thread length (this may not be possible if it's a large area).

How to do a Gathered Stitch

Thread your Chenille needle and bring it up from back to front of the canvas (at A), having secured it behind. You can start anywhere on the canvas as this stitch is not really worked in rows so much as the stitches are strategically placed – the closer together, the fuller the curls.

how to stitch curly hair in needlepoint with a gathered stitch

Now, pierce the thread with your sharp needle at 3 points, about  1/8” – 1/4” apart.

Floating in Frocks needlepoint kit by Jennifer Pudney

Then, bring the needle down again in a hole adjacent to where you brought the needle up (at B in the graphic above). Pull the needle through and your curl should be sitting nicely on top of the canvas. Next, bring the needle up again in an adjacent hole and continue until you have covered the entire area.

how to needlepoint hair curly with a gathered stitch

Another way to stitch curly hair is to use a French Knot - the effect is a tighter curl. Needlepoint Now has a video for How To Do A needlepoint French Knot.

2. How To Needlepoint Straight Hair

The easiest way to make straight hair look straight, or wavy, is just to use a Tent stitch and follow what is on the canvas. The hair on this Gardener's Bottom canvas has been stitched in this way. Easy and it looks great!

how to needlepoint straight hair

Another way is to use an Encroaching Gobelin Stitch which uses satin stitches to layer strands of hair. You could do rows of slightly different shades, or use all the same color.

encroaching gobelin stitch for needlepoint straight hair


Whew! There are plenty of options there for how to stitch hair in needlepoint. We hope you have fun with it!