About Tapestry

Tapestry or needlepoint is a fine art that can give you incredible results. Get to grip with all the basics and start creating your own masterpieces!

What is it?

Basically, the tapestry is pulling a needle, threaded with different coloured threads, through a canvas in a set pattern. It’s all done by hand and involves plenty of hard work and dedication. The tapestry can be used practically anywhere. It can be added to home furnishings like pillows and cushions and can also be used to adorn jackets and belts. It really is a versatile craft that you may well find yourself incorporating into dozens of projects. So what do you need to get going?

What you need to Know

You need to have a specific kit to get started with tapestry. The two essential items are thread or yarn and canvas. The type of yarn that you use is up to you. Wool, silk or plain old cotton are all viable options. The canvas comes in a variety of shapes and the size you go for will be dictated by the design.

The best thing that a starter can pick up is a tapestry kit. All good online and high street craft shops have these in stock. You get everything – from a pattern, the coloured yarns and the right needle. This is the easiest way to get started and once you have mastered the basics you can go out and customize your own design.

Getting Started

Your tapestry kit will provide you with a step-by-step guide but if you want to do your homework, find out what you are going to be doing.

To Frame or Not too Frame

Sometimes we all need a little help. A tapestry frame is designed to make it easy for you. It holds the canvas taut and will keep the design from distorting. This is a personal choice though – try it with and without and see if you think it assists you.

Prepare that Canvas

The edges of the canvas need to be framed before you start. You have two ways of doing this – either by edging the canvas with masking tape or by hemming the edges with a sewing machine. The former is probably the quickest and easiest method. All you need to do is wrap the tape around the edges – use tape that is about an inch thick.

Choosing the Needle

Tapestry has its very own needle and you should always use this during the project. The needle itself is blunt at the end and has a large eye, to fit the yarn through.

As well as a specific needle, tapestry has specific stitches that you should master on a bit of spare canvas before you undergo your masterpiece! The good news is that you really only need to deal with one stitch – the cross-stitch. All you need to know is that there are just three different ways of doing it:

The half-cross stitch – crosses over a horizontal and vertical intersection of the canvas and the stitches appear in a row, at a slight diagonal.

The basket-weave stitch: – this is a diagonal stitch that crosses over the canvas, both horizontally and vertically. Each stitch is created on a diagonal so you build up the pattern in a triangular shape.

The continental stitch – this is great for when you want to create one row of colour. For the continental, each stitch is placed to the left or right, forming a single row.

In all cases, you should pay close attention to the way you work. Yarn should never be pulled too tightly through the canvas – pulling the thread through too tightly will distort the shape of the canvas. Similarly, if the thread is too loose your tapestry will not have the right effect.

Finishing it Off

Once you have stitched your way through the pattern, you will need to deal with the final obstacle – blocking.

It doesn’t matter how vigilant you have been throughout the needlepoint process, by the end of it all we can bet that your tapestry will be distorted and will need to be stretched back into shape.

The easiest way to do this is to dampen your canvas with some water and then pin the corners to some card, in the shape that it needs to be. Leave for a few hours and you will find that your work has dried into the right shape.


Tapestry is a unique art and one that requires a little time and effort. However, the reward is something truly impressive. The hundreds of stitches you make will come together to give you an amazing centrepiece.

Leave a comment