Updated September 13,2022.
You might be wondering “Can you create your own needlepoint canvas using textile markers?” Yes, it’s easy. By using simple outlines and templates and coloring in the canvas, you’ll be able to create stitchable canvases even if you think you have no artistic ability.
I used this process and markers to create the rabbit pictured above.
To create your design, you’ll need:
- template or outline
- needlepoint canvas in the mesh of your choice
- extra-fine permanent marker made for textiles
- textile markers in colors of your choice (I like Copic markers.)
First, we’ll talk about the materials, then we’ll cover the process.
Any simple outline without details can become the basis for needlepoint. Some details, such as eyes or wings, can be in your outline but smaller details are created in needlepoint through stitches, not through lines or colors.
There are plenty of places to look for these outlines. Consider:
- scrapbook outlines & templates
- applique quilts outlines (use assembled, not by pieces)
- vintage embroidery patterns
- cookie cutters
In addition, members of my site, Colorful Needlepoint, have access to a large collection of simple shapes and other outlines suitable for needlepoint.
You can do this without fear if you are making the design for your own use and not to sell. If you want to sell your canvas or finished project, the outline must be available for commercial use. Please check the rights on images before using them.
Professional needlepoint designers use extra-fine markers to trace the outline of their design. They also use them to divide the design. These markers are great because they make it easy to see where to color but they are also easy to cover.
While there are many kinds of permanent markers, there are only two brands I recommend (I’ve tested and used both)
SCA-UF from Pilot: These are very sturdy markers that come in four colors: red, black, blue, and green. They are not easy to find but you can buy them singly in some non-chain office supply stores or in boxes of a dozen from Amazon.
These are what are used by most needlepoint designers. Because they are permanent and do not contain Xylene they will not degrade the canvas.
Pigma Micron from Sakura: These markers are used widely by quilters for writing on quilts. They are stable on fabric and canvas. They come in a broad range of colors with tips in several widths plus a brush tip.
You can find them at chain craft stores, scrapbooking stores, art supply stores, and quilt shops.
I like these markers because I can match the outline more closely to the interior color. I don’t like that the tips are very thin and fragile. Even with this problem, I still use these most of the time.
Many companies make textile markers. For this project, I used a set from Target in their Handmade Modern line, no longer made. I also have ones from many lines I’ve bought at craft shops.
Generally, you’ll find these in a section with clothing pieces to color, tie-dye kits, fabric paints, and spray paints for fabric.
Textile markers are different from most markers because they do not have regular ink inside of them. They either have alcohol-based inks or dyes. Most of the time you will not know which of these is in your markers, but if they are listed as working for textiles, you can test them for needlepoint (see below).
Most textile markers are two-pointed markers. One end is a chisel point, the other end is a brush point. Having two points is useful but not necessary. If you can only find one point, look for a chisel point.
If you can find them, buy sets; they give you more choices and are a better value.
Most textile markers are not opaque. This means you can combine colors when wet, above, or color over to get a darker color, as you can see in the background of the bunny.
You should test your markers on canvas before using them on your project. To do this use a scrap of canvas, and color it solidly with the marker. Wet the canvas thoroughly and set it on a white paper towel. If the color runs or leaves a mark on the towel immediately, repeat the process, but let the marker dry overnight before wetting and repeating the test. After a successful test for immediate colorfastness, allow the canvas to dry overnight on the towel. If the color still hasn’t run you can use it on canvas.
Create Your own Needlepoint Canvas using Textile Markers
You can make a successful project using textile markers and an outline. Follow these steps;
- Print out and/or enlarge your outline to the size you would like.
- Put the page in good light and place your canvas on top of it.
- Using your extra-fine marker, trace your printout.
- If your design needs further divisions, as my bunny did, add them to the outline now.
- Color in the outline, beginning with the lightest colors. Outline each area with the chisel point, then fill in with either point.
Outlining makes it easier to stay inside the lines.
Strive to get the color even. It is almost impossible to get an even color with these markers, but that is OK. Remember you are creating this design for you, not to sell.
- Once the design is colored, fix any mistakes with an opaque white marker and let dry before recoloring.
- Let dry overnight before beginning to stitch.
About Janet M Perry
Janet Perry is the Internet's leading authority on needlepoint. She designs, teaches and writes, getting raves from her fans for her innovative techniques, extensive knowledge and generous teaching style. A leading writer of stitch guides, she blogs here and lives on an island in the northeast corner of the SF Bay with her family
Joanne Glass says
I have been doing this for years as each great-niece, great-nephew and grandchild gets a needlepoint pillow based on the picture book their parents choose.
I only trace the outlines as the colors and stitches get developed as I work.
I have found that the washable blue marker works well for me as any marking that is showing through the stitches will disappear when I block the work.
Janet M Perry says
I love this idea, what a charming idea for a baby gift!