We checked in with CJ, an expert stitcher and needlepoint teacher, and we asked her, "What are your three top needlepoint tips?"
She shared the three things she always teaches students who want to get great needlepoint results ...
Top Needlepoint Tip #1
Stitch light colors first - particularly a light background.
When a light color is stitched next to a dark color, fibers from the darker thread get pulled through with the lighter thread, resulting in “dandruff” on the lighter stitched area. Wool and fuzzier threads are more likely to do this than smoother threads like cotton or silk.
For example, if you are stitching a name at the top of a Christmas stocking, and the name is red on a white background, stitch the white first to avoid pulling red fibers into the white background.
Using a needlepoint basketweave stitch also helps with this problem as with this stitch the needle always comes up in a "clean" (unoccupied) hole and so there is less chance of dragging fibers through the canvas. Click to learn how to do a needlepoint basketweave stitch.
Likewise, stitch smooth threads before fuzzy threads to avoid pulling fuzz into smooth areas.
Top Needlepoint Tip #2
Don't carry dark threads across light colored areas.
When you carry dark threads across the back of unstitched areas of the canvas that will be stitched in a lighter color, they can appear as a shadow under the lighter threads. Lighter colors like white, pale yellow and pale pink are somewhat transparent, and a darker thread lying beneath them can show through.
Also, fibers from a dark thread can pull through to the front as you stitch the lighter color.
The same applies with the placement of waste knots. Try to place your waste knot within the color area you are stitching, or in a similar color area.
Top Needlepoint Tip #3
Look after your threads!
If you toss all of your threads for a project into one bag, you'll end up with a nest.
Threads thrown together can become abraded and worn-looking. Plus, lint from the fibers can rub off onto each other.
Roughly treated fibers can affect the appearance of your project, making it look worn and soiled.
Here are some tips for storing threads...
Place threads in small bags or containers by color.
Don't mix wool, or other lofty or shedding fibers with silk, cotton or delicate threads.
Non-fuzzy threads, like Neon Rays, Fyre Werks and Silk Lamé, do not need to be separated by color as they don't transfer fibers to each other. But, softer threads like wool, and silk/wool blends, or fuzzy threads like Fuzzy Stuff or Very Velvet, keep better when each color is placed in a separate bag or compartment.
Multi-compartment containers like this one on Amazon are great for storing leftover threads as you can see what you have at a glance. These containers are compact and can be stacked as your thread stash grows.
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Or this container which has moveable compartments - a great option if your thread stash includes skeins and cards.
Beads, needles, needle threaders, and even most needle minders will stay secure in these small containers...
If you like the convenience of using Ziploc bags to place threads in then a great storage and cataloging option for all those bagged threads is a shoe storage container. It opens from the top so you can see everything, and stores flat (e.g. under a bed). You can place all the red threads (for example) in one shoe compartment, with the different fiber types separated into their respective plastic bags. It makes it really easy to see what you have on hand.
Bonus Needlepoint Tips
You've spent hours stitch your unique needlework. What are some fun and creative ways to display it in your home? Poppy Monk needlepoint was recently featured in a Redfin article that has lots of ideas for things to do with your needlepoint or embroidery to enhance your home decor. Check it out to get 23 Unique Embroidery Ideas to Showcase Your Space.
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