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Tips and Techniques to Bring Your Canvas To Life > The Tent Stitch
The Tent Stitch


The Tent stitch is the foundation of all needlepoint






           Basketweave starting over a vertical intersection                               Basketweave starting over a horizontal intersection   


Charts indicate the proper count for executing the two methods of the Tent stitch.  The first being a Continental stitch which is used only as an outline stitch.  Longest stitch needs to be on the back of the canvas so the stitch will lay properly in the top side.


When filling in an area with the Tent stitch, Basketweave is the method best suited for any and all areas over three threads or more.



  1. Canvas must be on stretcher bars, tacked or stapled as taut as your finished project will be.
  2. Work on the correct grain of the canvas (selvage to the right or left side).  If selvage is not on canvas, look for vertical white (if white mono canvas) wash lines.  This will indicate correct grain.
  3. Basketweave is worked diagonally up the horizontal canvas thread and down the vertical canvas thread.
  4. If starting on the horizontal, your waste knot is directly below 2"  (vertically in the same alley as your first stitch).  When ending on a horizontal thread, your waste tail should be horizontal in same alley to the left of area you are working.  When starting a new length of yarn look at the back sode of canvas to make sure a plus (+) is formed with the ending tail and new length of yarn for best coverage.  Reverse procedure when beginning Basketweave on a vertical canvas thread. 
  5. When working with a multiple strand yarn, use a laying tool to execute each stitch-comb, smooth back and lay in.  Every Tent stitch should look like a rectangle over the intersection.
  6. The yarn or yarn strands you use will vary in ply from canvas to canvas, ie. colored canvas, painted canvas.  Use a doodle canvas to see what works best for you.  Five strands of floss on 18; 7 strands of floss on 14.  The length of any yarn should not be longer than 18 inches.
  7. Needle size is an important factor in needlepoint as well.  Needle size is determined by canvas mesh not by yarn.  
    13 - 14 mesh 22 needle 7 strands of floss
    16 - 18 mesh 24 needle 5 strands of floss
    20 - 24 mesh 26 needle 3 strands of floss
  8. When burying your waste tails under Basketweave, always bury vertical or horizontal NEVER on the diagonal.  This should also be done using a smaller needle, to prevent disturbng the top stitches.

Needlepoint as an art form requires patience and striving for consistency.  We are creating heirlooms - make every project your best to date.