Updated October 22, 2019
I often get quesztions about converting cross stitch charts to needlepoint. This is an easy process if you are careful about the charts you pick. It can also be economical, allowing you to use charts from your stash and less expensive floss.
It’s also the method you use to stitch from the charts in needlepoint books, both old and new. Knowing this broadens your options for stitching more of these designs. This article will cover three topics: charts, thread, and stitching. Those interested in making charted needlepoint from books will find the last topic most helpful.
When you look for Cross Stitch charts, look for ones which have two things: whole stitch only and minimal backstitching. These will be the easiest to convert to needlepoint.
Because of the structure of needlepoint and canvas, you cannot make precise partial stitches on needlepoint canvas. Therefore by looking for charts which have no quarter, half or three-quarter stitches you will save yourself lots of trouble.
This means that the chart should look like the one at the top of this article with symbols filling the entire square. Sometimes, but not always, the chart has partial stitches listed on the color key.
A chart with partial symbols looks like this. You can see how some of the squares are only partially filled. These would be made with partial Cross Stitches. These soften lines in Cross Stitch but aren’t done in needlepoint.
Another common feature in Cross Stitch charts is Backstitching. Often this is used to outline or to create details in the design. Backstitch is hard to do in needlepoint. You don’t need it to outline in most cases, so that kind of backstitching can be ignored. Details that are made in Backstitch can be stitched over the Tent Stitch.
If backstitching provides details, as is the case with this gingerbread house, you stitch the backstitching over the Tent Stitch base. This way you preserve the fine details of this kind of backstitching.
Cross Stitch uses considerably thinner thread than needlepoint. If you think about it, this makes sense. In Cross Stitch. you are embellishing a fabric. In needlepoint, you are making a fabric. A Cross Stitch has two layers in it. A Tent Stitch has only one.
If your chart has strand recommendations, don’t use them, you’ll start with this table for number of strands of silk or floss:
- 12 mesh: 8 strands
- 14 mesh: 6 strands
- 18 mesh: 4 strands
- 24 mesh (Congress Cloth): 2-3 strands
Remember always to strip, ply, and recombine your threads before using them.
In needlepoint canvas (pictured above) the threads are bigger than the holes and stitches are made from hole to hole over intersections or threads.
In Cross Stitch fabric the threads are bigger than the holes and you stitch over the threads from hole to hole. When I did Cross Stitch, I always thought of the fabric as a huge piece of graph paper and my stitches as coloring those holes. Cross Stitch charts and similar charts for needlepoint all use this convention. Each square on the graph represents a stitch.
A stitch is a stitch and still goes over one thread. It’s just that the threads are thinner and the holes bigger in needlepoint.
When you stitch needlepoint from a chart, make each graphed square a Tent Stitch, going over one intersection of thread.
This needlepoint was stitched from a vintage needlepoint chart in my files. The chart could have been done in either needlepoint or cross stitch.
Once you are comfortable with stitching from charts, you’ll find a whole new world of great designs out there waiting for you!