On this page:
Historically, a very wide range of stitches has been utilized for needlepoint. Today, some of the most commonly used ones are Victorian cross stitch, Random long stitch and various types of Tent stitch.
Here are a few examples of stitches used for needlepoint:
- Arraiolos stitch
- Brick stitch
- Basketweave tent stitch
- Continental tent stitch
- Half cross tent stitch
- Victorian cross stitch
- Encroaching upright gobelin stitch
- Gobelin stitch
- Hungarian ground stitch
- Hungarian point stitch
- Mosaic stitch
- Old Florentine stitch
- Parisian stitch
- Random long stitch
- Smyrna cross stitch
- Upright cross stitch
- Whipped flower stitch
The Brick stitch is a bead weaving type of stitch, where individual beads are stacked horizontally in the same pattern as bricks in a brick wall.
This stitch is known from many different cultures in various parts of the world, including the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas. In the United States, its strong association with Native American nations have made it known as Cheyenne stitch and Comanche stitch. In the Americas, Native American embroiders developed the Brick stitch from the Peyote stitch (also known as Gourd stitch).
The Cross stitches form a large group of related stitches where the thread is sewn in an x shape or + shape.
Cross stitches are used for a wide range of needlework, including needlepoint. It is a type of stitch that we find in traditional needlework from a wide range of cultures and historical periods.
The Smyrna stitch is a cross stitch worked over at least two threads, with a straight cross stitch worked over the top.
Example: Start by doing a plain cross stitch over four threads, each way. Over that, make another cross stitch, one that is standing upright.
The Smyrna stitch was very popular in Victorian England, followed by a revival in the 1950s and 1960s.
This is a slanting stitch, worked over two horizontal threads and one perpendicular. When you reach the end of the line going from left to right, you can work the following row from right to left.
Needlepoint made with Gobelin stitches can look remarkably similar to gobelins, even though gobelin tapestries are woven on a loom. This is how the Gobelin stitch got its name.
Mosaic stitch is a basic diagonal stitch used in needlepoint work. It consists of three cells: two short stitches flanked by one long one. It has only three diagonals per group, which distinguishes it from Cushion stitch where there are five diagonals per group.
Reversed Mosaic stitch
In this version of Mosaic stitch, alternate cells run in opposite diagonals, producing a chequerboard look.
A long stitch over three threads is followed by a short stitch over one thread. This is alternated to create a basket weave pattern, where the end points on either end alternate in a staggered pattern.
Tent stitch is a small, diagonal stitch that crosses the intersection of one horizontal (weft) and one vertical (warp) thread on the needlepoint canvas. The result is a slanted (45 degree angel) stitch.
Since the tent stitch is so popular for needlepoint, it is sometimes referred to simply as needlepoint stitch.
There are three different types of tent stitch, but they all produce the same look on the front of the canvas. The main difference between the three is how they are worked, which in turn makes a difference for when each variant is ideal.
- Continental tent stitchThis stitch is worked horizontally or vertically across the canvas.
On the back of the canvas, the stitches appear diagonally across two threads.
Compared to half cross tent stitches, the continental one use up a lot of yard, but is also more resilient to wear and tear, which is why it is popular for needlepoint work that will be extra exposed, e.g. upholstery that people will sit in.
- Basketweave tent stitchThis stitch is worked in diagonal rows up and down the canvas.
If you look at the back of the canvas, you will see a typical basket weave appearance, with alternating horizontal and vertical stitches.
This stitch is a popular choice for covering large areas when doing needlepoint, because it doesn’t distort the canvas much and it provides a really good backing if you make diagonal rows that alternately ascend and descend, with the yard in ascending rows being laid over warp threads and the yarn in descending rows being laid over weft threads.
- Half cross tent stitchThis stitch is worked horizontal or vertically across the canvas.
If you look at the reverse side of the canvas, the stitches will appear either vertical or horizontal – not diagonal. Also, each stitch crosses one thread only.
The half cross tent stitch is a popular choice when you don’t have much yarn to use. On the downside, it is not very durable, so it is best suited for purely decorative items, e.g. embroideries that are to be hung on the wall.