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How to break down a complicated needlepoint stitch.


Math, what do you mean I need math to do needlepoint!

What does math have to do with needlepoint and do we really use it. Math is used everywhere. When my 12 year old didn’t think she needed to do fractions I had her help me with a recipe of her favorite dessert – but we cut it in half. She didn’t like my subtle “I told you so”, but loved the dessert. So yes, you need some basic math to do more complicated stitches. But don’t despair – if I can do it, so can you.

Don’t be intimidated by seemingly complicated stitches. We’ll show you how to simplify them. Learn how to break down complicated stitches so that stitching them will easy.  We'll learn using the modified diagonal mosaic stitch.  And when it's really important to pay close attention I'll SHOUT.

Modified mosaic needlepoint stitch


The first step in breaking up a complicated stitch is to carefully look at the chart.  The Modified Mosaic needlepoint stitch has 3 components. First, the diagonal stitch (grey) – yes it goes in 2 directions, second the x stitch (green) and third the cross stitch or embellishment (pink).

To break down a needlepoint stitch we will be using my college favorite - the highlighter.  Make two copies of the charted stitch. Or, just follow alone here, I've highlighted the carts.  The bones of the stitch are the diagonal stitches running in each direction.  We will focus on those first.  Take a highlighter and trace over a row of the diagonal stitches going from top left to bottom right (yellow on the chart). Highlight the row going parallel to it as well.

Modified mosaic needlepont stitch


Do you see the pattern?  The highIighted portion is a shared diagonal mosaic stitch – 2 -3 -2 -3- -2.

Diagonal stitches

The pattern skips two steps down and two over and then runs the motif again. (Here’s the math – the space between the motifs is a 2 x 2 square - just in case you were wondering.)  Focus only on the diagonal stitches going from left to right. 

Now you’re ready to stitch. We’re going to start with the long diagonal stitches. You should use a stranded silk, cotton floss or a thinner thread – pepper pot silk, wiltex wool for this stitch. It’ll lay better.  Pick an area that can fit 3-5 motifs of the diagonal rows without a break.
Modified mosaic needlepoint stitchGo ahead and needlepoint the FIRST ROW of diagonal stitches.  When you’ve finished the row – do another parallel to it.  THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ROW. LOOK CAREFULLY AT THE PLACEMENT OF THE STITCHES.  THE LONG STITCHES ARE ACROSS FROM EACH OTHER ONE STITCH AWAY ALL THE WAY DOWN. The short stitches have AN EXTRA ROW in between.

diagonal stitches in needlepoint


You should finish the entire area doing the diagonal stitches in this direction before starting any other part of the stitch.

Diagonal Mosaic needlepoint stitch on cosmo girl

Now, take the other photocopy and highlight the diagonal rows going from top right to bottom left. Again, highlight the parallel row.  It’s time to do the next step. You’ll be doing the same diagonal stitches in the opposite direction. These stitches fit into the space between – yes they really do! Follow the chart. Only the middle short stitch should not be touching the pattern in the opposite direction.


Modified Mosaic needlepoint stitch

Now you’ve finished your grid. This stitch is beautiful without filling the holes and if you like open stitches you can leave it as is.

If you want to fill in the holes proceed to the X stitch (green on the diagram). The X stitch is placed in the holes in each row where the shorter stitches make a box (or in math terms – a parallelogram).

modified mosaic needlepoint stitch

Use a different thread – or a different color. I’ve chosen to stitch the entire dress in pink. I’ve picked Neon Rays by Rainbow Gallery.   It’s a flat thread, so perfect for doubling over. Plus it has a great shimmer. Stitch these in a diagonal direction.

Your third & final stitch. If you want to “embellish” here’s where the fun begins – You can even pretend you took a lesson from one of the master teachers. We’re filling in the remaining holes. You can do the same color or pick a different one. The hole can be filled with a cross stitch, a French knot, a bead or a sequins.You’re the boss of your needlepoint – so you decide. I’ve done the cross stitch in Cosmo Girl using a pink kreinik braid. Glitter and pink what more could a girl ask for.

cosmo girl: Modified mosaic needlepoint stitch 

So use a little math and a great highlighter and tear apart your charted stitch. When your family asks – what did you do today – you can tell them – “I applied math to my needlepoint project”.

You may find the patterns fun as well.



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How to break down complicated needlepoint sttiches using the modified mosaic stitch

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