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How To Needlepoint: Learn the Basic Stitches

How To Needlepoint: Learn the Basic Stitches

The most basic of needlepoint stitches are called TENT Stitches. In its basic form, needlepoint is one diagonal stitch over each intersection of your canvas. The direction of that diagonal stitch is always from lower left to upper right, when looking at your canvas.

Hand painted canvases make it easy to see where to stitch, because each intersection of your canvas is painted what color that stitch should be - almost like a paint by number! This is what makes hand painted canvases so wonderful, but also expensive! There is a person counting and painting each stitch on your canvas so that you can easily understand where to stitch!

There are 3 types of tent stitches: Half Cross Stitch, Continental Stitch & the Basketweave Stitch. All of them look the same on the front of you canvas, but look different on the back of your canvas, each providing different levels of structure to your canvas.


  1. USE: Some end uses for canvases get heavy wear. Think of a pillow that will be sat on and thrown around for hopefully years to come - you want your threads to create a solid structure to help your piece stay in tact and last.

  2. LONGEVITY: Even if it isn’t a piece that will be getting heavy wear, Needlepoint pieces become a keepsake for years to come. By stitching your canvas with good yarn coverage and structure, you are building longevity into your piece.

Each tent stitch offers a different amount of structure to your canvas.

HALF CROSS STITCH: Least amount of coverage

CONTINENTAL STITCH: Medium amount of coverage

BASKETWEAVE STITCH: Highest amount of coverage

For this reason, we recommend using the Half Cross Stitch and Continental Stitches for small to medium areas of your canvas, and the Basketweave Stitch for larger areas. I most often mix all 3 tent stitches, when I am working on a canvas. You can also choose to stitch a canvas in all of one tent stitch - it is really up to you!

The HALF CROSS STICH and the CONTINENTAL STITCH are opposites of each other -

HALF CROSS - When moving Left to Right, move from BOTTOM to TOP of your stitch. When moving Right to Left, move from TOP to BOTTOM.

CONTINETNAL - When moving Left to Right, move from TOP to BOTTOM of your stitch. When moving Right to Left, move from BOTTOM to TOP.


If you have any additional stitching questions, please reach out at! -Abby

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