Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How to get started with Needlepoint

Plastic canvas is a technique that seems to have largely gone out of style these days. I'm here to really breath life back into this older technique. Today, Cross Stitching has really started to dominate the needlecraft landscape; however, Plastic Canvas has a lot to offer. Some things to keep in mind about Plastic Canvas.

Plastic Canvas is cheap. It is a fairly inexpensive hobby that has fairly cheap start up costs. Once you get the initial supplies, you're pretty much all set for life.

Plastic Canvas is time consuming, but not as time consuming as Cross Stitching. In almost all cases, a Cross Stitching project can take you double the amount of time in comparison to Plastic Canvas.

Plastic Canvas is stiff. This means your items can be manipulated in ways other needlecraft projects can't be. I have turned my items into anything from castles to handbags to gift bags.

So what do I need to get started?

Needles and Pin Holder:
First up - needles. These can be found at any major craft store and even Wal-Mart. My preference is this exact brand and size. 16 DMC Tapestry Needle. They're sold in packs of five.

Make sure the circle on the bottom left says 1
6. If it says anything bigger, you can break your canvas as your making your project, and if you get too small, you can end up causing pain to your fingers or struggling to get yarn through the loop. A 5 pack of needles won't run you more than $5.99
A pin holder/cushion is optional, but there are many people on Etsy who sell really beautiful and fun pin cushions.

I got mine (It's a mini-cheese grater) from Fibrous. Be sure to check out her Etsy for other cool pincushion.

Spincushions also offers a variety of beautiful handmade pincushions.

Again these aren't necessary, but I use my pincushion everyday, and if you become a serious needlecrafter, you'll want a nice pincushion.

Next, you'll need some clear plastic canvas. I use 7mesh Plastic Canvas for all my projects. the number 7 refers to how many holes you have per inch. So every 7 holes is ~1 inch. Bigger count means the more work you'll be doing. Counts can get up into the 20s. Again, I recommend 7mesh plastic canvas. Most craft stores will have clear plastic canvas. It averages anywhere between 39cents - 79scent for a sheet. All you need is 1 or 2 sheets for your first project.Be sure to be consistent with whatever brand you purchase as different brands might measure up every so slightly different which could mess up a bigger project. This is what you'll use for most basic projects.

You can also get colored canvas. They come in all sorts of colors. They run approximately the same price as clear canvas.Clear canvas just naturally feels different than colored. Colored has a slightly waxy textures. I love colored canvas for making bags. Such as a Christmas Bag for the holidays. Be sure to check out my Mario Mushroom Bag and Zelda Triforce Bag.

You can also get Canvas with predetermined shapes. But actually these are used in more advance designs to create structures.
I recommend just buying a couple pieces of clear canvas for your first project. These other items will be great later.

Yarn will be the last thing you need. 7Mesh has big holes. So you cannot just buy your generic assortment of cross stitching fabric. My recommendation is Red Heart Brand Yarn. Buy whatever colors you need for your first project. Your first project shouldn't have more than 5 colors, just to keep costs down and your frustration level down. Yarn can get expensive, but since you get so much when you purchase it, you rarely need to go and buy more of one color in your lifetime. I only go through black and white consistently. After years of doing this, I'm finally running low on yellow.

These are all the colors I needed to make Fluttershy
This is all you need to get started. Check back later this week for a giveaway, as well as some great first patterns for your project. Good luck on your first project and happy stitching!


  1. Nice intro to working with plastic canvas. I have cross-stitching before, but never this. Might have to give it a try.

    Found you via blogging buddies, and I am glad I did.


  2. Hey there, Daniel, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment on Scrollwork! I enjoyed your very clear and informative intro to working with plastic canvas. I'm always intrigued by a crafter's choices. What motivated you to bring this technique back?

  3. Thanks Daniel for mentioning my pincushions :)

    I'll be showing your blog post to my daughter who has a fascination with plastic canvas & is about to start her first project. These tips will help her I am sure :)