Does anyone do needlepoint?

lavender_lassJune 9, 2011

I've wanted to make some needlepoint dining chair seats for many years now. My grandmother and I talked about doing it, but then she got sick and wasn't able to do her handwork any longer. Although she's no longer with us, I still want to go ahead with the project.

We had planned to use a pattern with three morning glory type flowers and a few heart shape leaves (in purple, dark pink, blue and green) with different color backgrounds. The backgrounds would be soft pink, light spring green, light blue and lavender.

I was wondering if anyone has done a similar project. I know you have to stitch the background, a certain it doesn't 'go diagonal' so to speak...and block the needlepoint after you finish. Any other tips, ideas? I'm not in any hurry, but it would be fun to start the first one...hopefully getting them done in time for the farmhouse remodel.

Thanks in advance and as always, I really appreciate your input! :)

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LL I tried it once. We did not get along. I did do lots of cross stitch. Your idea sounds wonderful. My needle point got onto the diagonal like you are not supposed to do and that was it for me.

I did bead a small needle case on needle point fabric and it was also tricky. I did violets on black background.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 10:42PM
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Lav, once upon a time, in my incarnation as a librarian, I planned to learn needlepoint. I found a book with a title something like YOUR HOUSE IN NEEDLEPOINT. Yes, it was before the computer age started, so it was all manual.

Now, I think I've read somewhere that you can have a photo of your house digitized and the colors even listed on the pattern that they create for you, so that you can then do your home in needlepoint.

You might can learn on something like the old samplers, and then when you are a skilled needleworker you can do those pretty designs you planned with your nana. And then AFTER the farm is recreated, you can do a needlepoint of it which will become an heirloom for YOUR grandkids. Give something to the future. If you have a black and white photo of the farmhouse in its present incarnation, but in good shape, you could try a sepia needlepoint of it as a BEFORE. I think your inlaws woould really be happy about that nod to family history, don't you?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 1:20AM
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Now I remember something from the days when my mother did needlework. When I reread Shades post, about the needle case on needlepoint fabric, the picture shot into my mind.

They make a PLASTIC MESH nowadays. This means you can do it without worrying about it warping or going whompy-jawed on you. That is what my mother used, and she made all sorts of things, like the needle cases, scissor holders, book covers, tissue box covers, you name it, she did it. I gave up on doing it because for the effort you put into it, the results is too small for my taste. I'd rather get a paint brush and slap slap slap away on a huge canvas. These days, I have computer software which can take a photo and turn it into a painting, and I've decided that HEY, I can do as good as THAT. Which is one use for my new Teahouse. :)
Here is what I mean about the software doing the painting. This is one of my photos treated to a painterly look called "embroidery."

The original of the Riverhouse in the backyard of a friend, where I lived for a year after selling MoccasinLanding.

And then the embroidery technique applied to the photo, without color correcting, as you can tell. Printing it on highly textured canvas would give a very good effect.

And then here is one of my favorite conversions from real to expressive painted:

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 10:56AM
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This is my truly honest opinion - it probably isn't what you want to hear. I made a needlepoint picture when I was a kid a thousand years ago. It took a long time, a really long time. The thought of multiplying that by six and doing six identical images sounds really really tedious.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 1:18PM
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Actually, I liked doing needlepoint, when I was a kid and did a couple of cute pillows...with butterflies :)

Needpoint is not hard to do, but I think some of you might be thinking of petit point (spelling?) which is very small needlepoint. Think stamped cross stitch compared to counted cross stitch.

Thanks for the input...any other ideas?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 2:22PM
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I liked needlepoint too, and maybe I'm confused. Regardless of whether it's petit point or gross pointe, unlike cross stitch you still have to fill in the background stitch by stitch. Would you just needlepoint the flowers on different colored fabrics?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 3:20PM
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LL I did do a set of four chair seats eeeeoooonnnnssssss ago. They were embroidery and each had a different flower. That was kind of fun but it was not solid like needle point. But if you like to do it then go for it. I bet there are free needle point patterns on the internet.

As far as telling you how to do it I do not have a clue. The times I struggled with it were too long ago and I never got it right. I just remember the stitches have to go on the proper slant through out or you get a really weird effect.I did much better with cross stitch. But have given that up too and all the hundreds of books on it I had.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 3:37PM
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The most important thing for stuff like chair seats and rugs that will get a lot of use is to not use half-cross stitch to fill in the background. It goes much faster, doesn't distort, and saves yarn, but it also doesn't wear very well (a lot of the cheaper needlepoint rugs you see are done in half-cross stitch, where you can see the vertical threads on the back of canvas).

Personally, I find it kind of tedious, but I know a lot of folks who find it soothing.

I would never ever waste effort on a plastic canvas, though--it's like hand quilting polyester fabric, as far as I'm concerned.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 4:12PM
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ML- Great pictures! Thanks for the would be a fun thing to do, but I think the painted effect would work better for the house. By the time I finish these four seat cushions, I think I'll be about done! A few smaller cushions for the banquette might be good practice, before I start the bigger project :)

Ellaf- It's not that much work to do the background (at least to me) unless the center pattern is really small...then it seems to take forever. Even so, much easier for me than counted cross stitch, but I admire those who can do it.

You know, just talking about all this has reminded me what makes the needlepoint get all crooked/diagonal. It's when you do the stitches lower left/upper right and then start again below and back up to the right. Instead, you have to go from bottom left to upper right...then back to the left, a stitch before and then up to the instead of moving as you stitch from left to right, you actually move from right to left. Does that make sense?

As for time, did I mention that we have REALLY long winters! LOL

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 4:17PM
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I'm all about getting it done, so I like applique work where you can do sweet little stitches of fancy embroidery around the edges of each applique piece. Depending on the pattern, it can be a pieced pillow top that is then embroidered with a nice series of stitches, or it can be patchwork where each piece builds against the one before, like fish scales.

I saw the most awesome quilt in the Alabama museum in Montgomery. It was a patchwork quilt, with each patch in whatever shape the small fabric pieces happened to take. And then the thing was covered with a lot of different fancy knots. What amazed me so much was, the use of color and geometrical shapes to enrich the quilt. And this was done by unschooled women? They were far from ignorant, far from dumb, and they understood how to use color.

They probably had long winters too, but I'd not think they had idle hands any time of year. So much had to be done manually.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 1:01PM
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I think perhaps many people aren't aware that there are many different stitches that can be used in needlepoint--not just the basic stitch most are familiar with.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 2:42AM
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I needlepoint. Not so much in the past couple of years, but still have many WIPs.

There is a book called The Secrets of Needlepoint by Dominique Siegler-Lathrop, see if your library has it, or if they can ILL it for you. If you are serious about needlepointing your cushions, use her method. As mentioned above, half-cross is not what you want to use. Use basketweave. The trick to it is to make sure you 'read' the canvas correctly, and then it will not distort. You were on to something with what you mentioned in your followup, but it's important to place it correctly on the mesh. It has a 'downhill' and an 'uphill'.

Don't use plastic, use good Zweigart canvas. It's not that expensive for the size you need. Basketweave stitch does take more yarn, and takes more time, but you will be much, much happier in the end, and down the road. For me, If I just wanted some needlepointed cushions, I could buy them, you know? If you are in this for the experience and meditative action of stitching (which it can be!), and the memories of your grandmother, the journey is just as important. But I'm a perfectionist, too, who also has really long winters, so......

There are other good books too, but I would start with Dominique's. Also, "The Needlepoint Book" is a classic reference that shows many other decorative stitches that could be used for the flowers, but don't get too crazy, as they can get snagged when used for cushions or stools.

If you decide to proceed, let me know, i can get you links to good online resources as well.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 11:16PM
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Badgergrrl- Thank you so much! As I was reading your post...I could hear my grandmother echoing some of the same words you were using. Basketweave stitch does take more will take more time (to do it right) but you'll be much happier in the end....use good canvas. I'm smiling and almost crying, at the same time. I really miss her and I appreciate the time you took with this response :)

I'll check the library this week and see if I can find Dominique's book. You've really inspired me to do this project and I will let you know, when I move ahead with the cushions. It will probably be in the next few months, as gardening seems to be taking up all my time, right now. Have a wonderful day and thanks again.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 1:20PM
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