Surface Embroidery with a Needlepoint Backstitch

Needlepoint backstitch is useful when a design just needs a little more.

When stitching a very small needlepoint, or one where the colors are muted and the design does not stand out well, it can be enhanced by the quick and easy use of a needlepoint backstitch or other surface embroidery. Surface embroidery stitches are worked on top of the needlepoint stitches and are helpful for adding fine detail or defining a curved line.

What does a needlepoint backstitch look like?

This brooch design looked undefined until the sirocco design was outlined in needlepoint backstitch.
Similarly, with the Japanese merchant on this belt buckle design. It is a detailed design in a very small area, but using a needlepoint backstitch to add the facial features and outline some of the curves improved the look.
Jennifer Pudney uses this technique a lot with her needlepoint kits. Here's one where she has used a single strand of the 6-ply thread to outline the design in backstitch. You see the detail much better now.

How do you do a needlepoint backstitch?

It's easy. Split the yarn/thread you plan to use down to a single, or maybe a two ply. You then backstitch over the needlepoint stitches in order to outline them. Follow this diagram. The needle goes up through the canvas on the odd numbers and down on the even numbers.
Let us know if you have any questions about using needlepoint backstitch to outline a design. Contact us about needlepoint backstitch.

Featured Kit

Frangipani by Mary Self. A cute 4" x 4" small needlepoint kit with a blended merino and mohair yarn.