How To Do A Perfect Needlepoint Basketweave Stitch

Needlepoint basketweave stitch is a must-learn stitch for beautiful needlepoint results.

It’s the crème de la crème of needlepoint stitches, and once you get the hang of it you’ll be really glad you met! 

needlepoint basketweave stitch

Creating a needlepoint basketweave stitch might seem confusing at first but with a bit of practice it will become second nature.

What's so great about the needlepoint basketweave stitch?

This strong and useful stitch is part of the needlepoint Tent stitch family, which means it is a way of forming the most basic needlepoint stitch. It's also the best way!

The stitch gets its name from the basketweave pattern that is formed on the back of the canvas.

How to do a needlepoint basketweave stitch blog post


This basketweave pattern forms a strong stitch with good coverage and minimal distortion of the canvas. So, if your finished design is going to end up as a pillow, or a belt, or a chair seat, or a rug, or anything that is destined for some wear and tear, then strong is what you want.

Along with good coverage comes less canvas distortion with a basketweave stitch. You shouldn't need to vigorously block your stitched needlepoint, especially if you use a frame or stretcher bars. We have a quick blog post on whether it's important to use a frame.

When stitching basketweave the needle always comes up in an empty hole on the canvas, so you are less likely to pierce a stitch that is already there and your stitches will look "cleaner" and more even.

So, we now know that a needlepoint basketweave stitch is the best way to form a basic needlepoint stitch in order to get  a stitched canvas that will last and look beautiful. But, how do you go about it?

Read to the end of this article to make sure you get all the tips for how to stitch a perfect needlepoint basketweave.

How To Do A Needlepoint Basketweave Stitch

Needlepoint basketweave stitch forms a half cross on the front of the canvas, just like the Continental and Half Cross stitches. But, the stitches are laid down in diagonal lines rather than horizontal rows. Here’s a chart showing how you would stitch in basketweave…

 How to do a needlepoint basketweave stitch blog post

Start at the top right of the color area you are stitching.

Note how you are forming diagonal, rather than horizontal rows.

 Once you have stitched a few rows, flip your canvas over and you will see the basketweave pattern that has formed on the back of your needlepoint. If you’ve got something that looks like this then your needlepoint baskweave pattern is coming together beautifully.

needlepoint basketweave stitch on back of canvas


Things To Know Before You Start Stitching Needlepoint Basketweave

Needlepoint Basketweave Tip #1. Stitch up the steps and down the poles.

The type of needlepoint canvas you are stitching on makes a difference to how you stitch basketweave.

Take a look at your canvas, where the canvas threads weave together at the intersections. If you are stitching a hand-painted canvas then you will almost certainly have what is called a mono canvas and it looks like this…

mono needlepoint canvas


The canvas threads pass over and under each other as they intersect.

If you are stitching a needlepoint kit, or a design that has been color-printed on the canvas, or one that originated outside of the United States, then you may have what is called an interlock canvas. In this case, the canvas threads pierce each other at the intersections and look like this…

 interlock needlepoint canvas

Why does this matter when it comes to stitching needlepoint basketweave?

It’s important for a couple of reasons. If you are stitching a mono canvas the canvas threads slide over each other as they intersect - they are not locked together like they are with an interlock canvas. So, your stitching thread needs to tension the needlepoint canvas so as not to slip under the canvas threads and warp or distort it.

The way you get the right stitch tension on a mono canvas is by doing what is called, “stitching up the steps and down the poles”.

A "pole" on your mono needlepoint canvas is where the canvas thread runs vertically and lies on top of the underlying horizontal thread.

 How to do a needlepoint basketweave stitch blog post

A “step” on your mono needlepoint canvas is where the canvas thread runs horizontally and lies on top of the underlying vertical thread.

How to do a needlepoint basketweave stitch blog post

Take a look at your canvas and see if you can see where the poles are and where the steps are.

When stitching needlepoint basketweave this is going to determine whether you will stitch a diagonal up row (going up the steps) or a diagonal down row (sliding down the poles). 

Here’s how this works in practice…

How to do a needlepoint basketweave stitch blog post

 This is a "step" because the horizontal canvas thread lies on top. So, since we need to stitch "up the steps" you would actually start your stitching of this color area at the bottom of this diagonal row...

How to do a needlepoint basketweave stitch blog post

So, your next row will be stitching down the "poles". Move across one intersection and start stitching down the diagonal...

How to do a needlepoint basketweave stitch blog post

This next image shows only the third line of stitches, going up the steps again.

How to do a needlepoint basketweave stitch blog post


What if you have an interlock canvas?

 An interlock needlepoint canvas doesn’t have steps and poles, so it doesn’t matter which way you start the diagonal basketweave rows. Just start stitching and follow the basketweave chart.

The only thing you need to pay attention to on an interlock canvas is keeping the basketweave pattern going across the entire stitched design. So, if you finish a thread at the top of a diagonal row, you need to start the next one at the top of the row. One great tip to cue you in is to park your needle in the place where you need to start, heading in the direction you will be going in. You can then leave your needlepoint and come back to it knowing the direction of the parked needle will show you were to start.

Needlepoint Basketweave Tip #2. Secure your threads horizontally or vertically.

When finishing off a thread, secure it under basketweave stitches on the back of your canvas in a horizontal or vertical direction (rather than in a diagonal direction).

Needlepoint Basketweave Tip #3. Don't drag your thread too far.

Don’t carry your thread very far on the back of the canvas - no more than over 3 or 4 stitches - as it can pucker the canvas and affect how smooth the stitches look on the front. You are better to secure your thread and start afresh in any new area that is further than 3 or 4 stitches away.

Needlepoint Basketweave Tip #4. Keep shorter thread lengths.

A great feature of needlepoint basketweave is the full canvas coverage it provides. But this also means your threads will wear down more. Use shorter thread lengths, especially when dealing with boutique fibers. Wool will not wear as easily as velvet or fuzzy fibers, so the more delicate the thread, the shorter you should cut your thread lengths. Always start a new thread if the stitches are starting to thin out.

needlepoint basketweave stitch on RBG

We hope you find this 'how to create a perfect needlepoint basketweave stitch' tutorial helpful. 

If you are ready for more needlepoint stitches check out our 5-Minute Needlepoint blog post on three easy needlepoint background or filler stitches.

For more information check out the American Needlepoint Guild's page on needlepoint basketweave stitch.

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