Learn How to Needlepoint

a beginners guide to needlepoint

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*This post was originally published in May 2020 but has since been updated.

I am continually asked about how to start needlepointing? What canvas is best for beginners? What is the best needlepoint tutorial? Where to buy needlepoint canvas? How to learn basketweave? To visit a local needlepoint store or shop for needlepoint online?

I want to be sure to have a place her on Simply Elegant that is a resource sharing all the information a beginner needs to get started with needlepoint. Everything you need to know to buy a canvas and start stitching. Keep reading for my beginners guide to needlepoint where I share everything from where to shop (online & in person), what canvases to learn on, my favorite beginner tutorials and more.

**NOTE – There is whole wide world of needlepoint information out there – I am sure I am only scratching the surface! And I am NO expert! Just an enthusiast! Do you have other advice? Thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!

If you follow me on instagram (@nan.philip) I am sure it will come as no surprise to you that I am an avid needlepointer. Needlepointing is just one of the many elements of my personality that puts me in the ‘born to be middle age category!

Almost ever woman in my family knows how to needlepoint – it almost feels like a requirement or perhaps just a shared hobby that we all enjoy.

My mom taught my how to needlepoint at a very young age, maybe around 4th or 6th grade. Throughout my childhood I went through stages of how interested I was but I always worked on a few projects a year.

And then came 2020, Covid19 and quarantine and like so many other needlepointers – I started stitching more than I ever had before!

Pip & Roo Canvas

Yellow Lab Canvas by Pip & Roo (size 18 mesh).

Simply Elegant Guide To Learning Needlepoint

Needlepoint Materials:

  • needlepoint canvas

  • thread (sometimes called fiber)

  • a needle (or a few) — these will often be included with your canvas

  • a sharp pair of scissors

    • find my favorite well priced scissors from Amazon here.

    • you can also find all my favorite needlepoint accessories / tools that I order from Amazon here.

  • *as a beginner you might want a needle threader (this is not required but sometimes helpful for new stitchers)

To Buy a Kit or ‘a la carte’

  • Many seasoned needlepointers will buy their needlepoint stitching materials ‘a la carte’ – meaning they buy the canvas and then pick out the threads of their choice. There are a wide range of different thread/fiber brands and over time you will probably build up a preference to one kind or another. Additionally, stitchers like to select their preferred colors. Some people like to find colors that perfectly match how a needlepoint canvas is painted and others like to change it up.

    • Personally: my favorite thread is Silk & Ivory and I often switch up the colors! 😉

  • If you are a new needlepointer or just trying needlepoint for the first time —> I highly suggest you buy a kitted needlepoint project.

    • This means that the threads will have already been picked out for you and sold as a set with the canvas.

    • Kits are ideal for beginners because it removes the potential for error – everything is already prepped for you and therefore you can just focus on learning how to needlepoint!

Silk & Ivory threads

Learn To Stitch Guides & Tutorials: 

Here are some helpful PDF guides and youtube videos showing you how to start needlepointing:

Needlepoint Stitches (Continental vs. Basketweave)

  • There are many needlepoint stitches you can learn – but to start, you must know the basics.

  • The first stitch you need to learn is the continental or basketweave stitch.

  • The stitch looks the same from the front of your canvas, but the way you go about stitching/the movement is different.

  • People have different preferences for which style they prefer – I am a basketweave gal through and through! If you get anything out of this blog post – I highly suggest you learn basketweave! But up to you! 

Blue & White Eyeglass Case Canvas from Lycette (size 13 mesh).

Canvas Size:

  • There are two common needlepoint canvas sizes: 13 and 18. These sizes refer to how many squares or crosses there are in the mesh per inch.

    • 13 squares per inch

    • 18 squares per inch

  • For your first canvas – I suggest you start with size 13 mesh for your first needlepoint project as this is a larger mesh size making it easier to see and stitch. The holes in the mesh are larger and you will find it easier to work with your needle.

  • As you continue to needlepoint, of course also try size 18 mesh. People have different preferences!

Shop For Needlepoint Online or In Person

  • There are countless amazing local needlepoint shops (LNS) throughout the country and I highly suggest seeing if there is a store in your area. (A quick google search can help determine if this!) Like all things these days, I find it so important to support local and small businesses – and many needlepoint shops fall into this category!

    • If you do have a local shop – go ahead and pop in to the store and anyone who works there should be able to get you set up with your first needlepoint project. Additionally, the great thing about being in person is most likely someone in the store can sit with you and teach you how to stitch!

    • A few shops I love to visit in person are:

  • However, if you do not have a local shop in your area, there are countless needlepoint shops that ship!

A custom needlepoint canvas I had finished into a hanging sign.

Finishing Your Canvas:

  • As you will quickly learn, there are quite a few steps to needlepoint.

  • After you have finished stitching your canvas (covered the full area of painted canvas in thread) you then need to have your canvas ‘finished’ into the final product — aka made into a pillow, ornament, door hanging, etc.

  • The most common way to have your product finished is to return to your local needlepoint shop and ‘send out the canvas for finishing.’ The shop will most likely have a form that you fill out with questions regarding choices for fabric, cording and embroidery.

  • I suggest being as detailed as possible in your finishing requests because once you send off your canvas it is more or less out of your hands and you have to hope for the best. Do your research, be specific, include inspiration photos from the internet or instagram.

If you do not have a local needlepoint shop – I can suggest the following for where to get your needlepoint projects finished:

  • Wellesley Needlepoint – find a finishing PDF to fill out and details here.

    • Both my mom and I have had projects finished by the team at Wellesley for years and we are always happy with the results! From ornaments to pillows or a brick cover, they do a wonderful job.

  • Lycette – call the shop to discuss.

    • Jessica, who owns Lycette, is so nice and I love working with her to get a pillow or other project finished. She has great taste and always helps me select great fabrics.

  • FussyGussies Etsy Shop – view here. Add your ‘type’ of project to your shopping cart, check out and then Jill will send you a email with her mailing address. You will send mail your stitched canvas to her so she can finish it for you.

    • Jill has finished some great ornaments for me over the past year or two, and for a great price!

    See some of my finished needlepoint projects in this blog post.

Happy Stitching!

I hope this blog post is a helpful starting point to learn how to needlepoint!

If you have any questions, please do let me know in the comments sections, over email or by sending me a DM.

I could happily chat about needlepoint all day long!

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