Needlepoint Kits vs. Canvas Only: What’s Best For Beginners?

Welcome back to NeedlePoints of View, a monthly column brought to you by me, Shannan of Bobbin and Fred, and Emma of The Maker’s Marks, where we’ll be sharing our love of all things needlepoint. Whether you’re new to the craft and want to learn what it’s all about or you’ve already fallen under needlepoint’s spell, we hope to inspire you to pick up a needle and get stitching.

Contemporary Flower Glasses Case Needlepoint Kit by Unwind Studio
Sunny Sunday Sunglasses Case Needlepoint Kit by Unwind Studio

Coming to a new craft as a beginner isn’t easy. With so many inspiring needlepoint kits to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start or exactly what you need to begin.

You want enough of a taster to see if you enjoy stitching but not something so challenging that it ends up in the bottom of your WIP basket, never to see the light of day again.

Then there are the more technical decisions to navigate: fully kitted, partially kitted, canvas only.

What does it all mean, and which one is best for a beginner needlepointer?

It’s time to untangle the confusion and make choosing your first project easy so that you can spend less time thinking and more time stitching! This post will demystify the jargon and show you what to look for in a needlepoint kit as a beginner.

What Makes a Great Needlepoint Kit for Beginners?

The best kits include all of the supplies that you’ll need to get started: canvas, instructions, needle, and thread. Just add scissors and you’re good to go!

For your first project, we recommend choosing something that’s easy and relatively quick to sew. Look for small needlepoint kits that are stitched onto a canvas with a count between 7 and 14hpi. This means you’ll be sewing 7-14 stitches per linear inch, small canvases in these counts work up quickly.

Ornaments, keyrings, and glasses cases like the Summer Sunday Kit by Unwind Studio pictured above, are all perfect for beginners. You’ll spend just enough time stitching to get addicted (or not) and, you’ll have a pretty project to show off to your friends.

Mr X Stitch contributor Kate Blandford shares her experience of choosing her very first needlepoint kit in her post: New to Needlepoint? Check out Needlepoint.com.

Pink Banana Palm Leaf Kit by Needlepoint To Go. Photo credit: Needlepoint.com

Needlepoint Kits vs. Canvas Only

Fully Kitted

A fully kitted needlepoint kit comes with everything you need to complete the canvas. As a beginner, this option is your best bet. Full kits are readily available in designs to suit every taste, and some are self finishing which means you can make the entire project from start to finish by yourself.

Partially Kitted

Partially kitted canvases come with the canvas and some of the threads you’ll need to complete the design, allowing you to pick and choose the remaining threads. These kits are great if you want a little freedom to personalize the design with your own colors or textures.

Canvas Only

Canvas only means you’ll just receive the canvas and it’s up to you to provide a needle and thread and, decide how exactly to stitch it. It’s a great option if you want to let loose and put your creativity to the test.

There are so many beautiful and fun threads to choose from in a wide variety of fibers, textures, and colors. From smooth bamboo to sparkly novelty fibers, there’s something to bring every canvas to life.

If you choose your own threads, be sure to check that the dye lots for each color are the same. This may sound odd but every batch that’s dyed the same color differs slightly from the other. This slight difference isn’t obvious until two threads from different dye lots are used side-by-side. By choosing threads from the same dye lots you’ll avoid this issue and maintain the color consistency throughout your project.

In the USA, you’ll often find canvases sold with optional thread packs. These thread packs have been curated by the talented folks at the store specifically with the canvas in mind, and they can often be customized to include the fibers you’d like to stitch with. 

Some needlepoint stores sell canvases with optional stitch guides too. These stitch guides have been designed by talented needlepointers and they include detailed instructions on how to stitch every part of the canvas, a thread supply list, and stitch diagrams.

If you’re not sure how to tackle a needlepoint canvas and want to create a piece of art, a stitch guide is a great way to go.

Sandra at Duo Designs went to town creating this stitch guide for Gayla Elliot’s Llama with Tassels canvas. The combination of fibers and stitches Sandra has chosen really brings the design to life!

Loveable Llama: Stitch Guide by Duo Designs

Which is best? 

It really depends on what you’re looking for, and on your confidence and ability.

As a complete beginner, you’ll need to put in a bit more research and experimentation if you go down the canvas-only route but you’ll be rewarded with the freedom to create whatever you want.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to needlepoint, and you’ll end up with a truly unique project!

On the other hand, needlepoint kits are brilliant for beginners. They contain everything you need and guarantee a stunning result every time. They may limit your creativity initially but they’ll arm you with the confidence and skills needed to tackle any project you fancy down the line.

What if You Hate a Color in a Needlepoint Kit?

Sometimes you may find that you love the overall look of a design but there’s one color that you can’t stand, or it doesn’t fit with your decor.

Luckily when purchasing a needlepoint kit from an indie designer or a needlepoint store that has curated the thread pack, it can be possible to swap out that unwanted thread color and replace it with a color you love.

Contact the kit designer or needlepoint store and discuss your needs with them directly. They’ll be able to recommend some other colors that will work well in the design so that you end up with a result you truly love.

Selection of Needlepoint Threads: Perle Cotton, Tapestry Soft Cotton, Merino, Metallics, and Rayon

Help! You’re Vegan. Where Can You Find Vegan Needlepoint Kits?

The good news is that the needlepoint canvas itself is made from 100% cotton so it’s just the fibers you’ll need to be mindful of.

And, the great news?

There are tonnes of vegan options to choose from!

The obvious choice is cotton and there are plenty of kits out there that contain cotton threads.

But there’s also a myriad of soy, bamboo, and acrylic fibers out there. This may be a great reason to choose the canvas only approach! Check out Emma’s informative post, Vegan Needlepointers! I’ve Got You!, to learn about the different vegan needlepoint fibers available and where to find them.

I’ve Got Supplies, Can I Just Get Started Already?!

Yes! All you need is some canvas, a needle, thread, and a design to stitch. You can even skip the design and freestyle it if that’s your vibe.

The most important thing is to have fun!

Next time: Learn How To Needlepoint with Emma

Next month Emma will be back to teach you the basic stitches: tent stitch, continental stitch, and basketweave. Each of these stitches looks the same from the front but they’re all sewn differently.

Stay tuned to learn how to do them and to find out the best times to use each one.

If you can’t wait to get stitching, sign up for my newsletter and download your free copy of the Turkish Jewel Needlebook, a beginner-friendly needlepoint design stitched with stranded cotton.


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