Updated October 26, 2018.
Your handwriting is one of the most distinctive things about you. Turning a person’s handwriting into needlepoint is a lovely, but not necessarily easy, way to remember them. I got an email from a reader asking about this. Here’s how you do it, using a process similar to turning any font into needlepoint.
Begin by enlarging the handwriting or font to the size you want. If you are working with a person’s actual handwriting, you might look for a font which is similar. Enlarging the letters will make it easier to determine if the font or handwriting will actually work. Make your test the actual text you want to use.
Testing the Lettering
Now do a little test by laying the needlepoint canvas you want to use onto the letters. Look at it and evaluate it as needlepoint. Ask yourself some questions: is each letter you need distinct and different from the other letters? Are the thin strokes too thin to be rendered as stitches? Are there areas that will look like blobs when they are stitched?
If the answer to all of these questions is no, then you can skip immediately to putting the letters on canvas.
If the answer to any of these questions was yes, you need to do some evaluation before continuing. If the letters aren’t distinct or blobby, can you make them larger? Do this and try again. Did that solve the problem? If it did then move forward. If it did not, continue the evaluation.
Do the thin strokes disappear? Think about whether you can make them wider without making thick and thin strokes the same width. If you can’t, the handwriting may not work as needlepoint. You should look for another font or method. A combination of Whipped Backstitch, Whipped Double Backstitch and Whipped Chain Stitch might solve this problem.
Are some of the lines dotted? You can solve this problem by manipulating stitch direction as we discussed or using Tent Stitch for lettering, below. It is good, but not necessary, to know this in advance.
If, in spite of all of this, the handwriting still doesn’t work, you might look around for a font to use instead. If you are using a font, look for a different one.
Putting the Letters on Canvas
You have letters you like, you know how they will work on canvas, and you know the size they need to be. Now you are ready to transfer the design to canvas. For this you will need a permanent, waterproof or dye-based marker with a very fine point. I like to use Pigma Microns in brown because they are very fine and the brown will show through thread a little less.
Put your printed lettering under the canvas. Align the canvas so that the base of a line of letters is along one thread of canvas. If it is, tape both to the table. If it is not, you will need to be moving the canvas so that the base line will be straight. Failing to do this is very noticeable in finished needlepoint. You will need to check this after each letter and adjust the canvas.
If a letter is distinct and not blobby, trace it onto canvas as it is. Trace the outline of the letter first, then color in the interior.
If a letter is blobby, look to thin out the blobs by removing some intersections that would be colored (this ends up meaning some stitches are left out of the letters. Make the loops more open or collapse the crossing of lines into a thinner area. You can do this by not tracing the outlines of the blobs and then coloring intersection by intersection.
If letters aren’t distinct, think about both the handwriting and the purpose of the needlepoint. Many people’s handwriting doesn’t have distinguishable letters. If your purpose is to render the handwriting, I wouldn’t worry about this, If the purpose is to make something readable to people who don’t know the hand, then look to making slight changes in shape to make letters distinct.
While this is not the easiest process in the world, go slowly and the end result will be a unique piece of needlepoint you designed yourself.