Updated September 17, 2019.
Figuring out what to do about the background of a needlepoint piece is often perplexing.
The design is so pretty on it’s white background. But stitch and suddenly something more is needed — a background. Some canvas come on colored or metallic canvas so a possible background is there. Some canvases have a painted background.
But almost always you will need to stitch something. I have tried all kinds of different things for backgrounds from a pulled canvas background, to an all-metallic Giant Diagonal Mosaic. Some have worked well, some haven’t, but here are some of my favorite techniques for backgrounds.
I’ve found several ways to think about what will work for a background before I make a stitch and discuss them in this post.
Needlepoint Damask uses two threads with a slight contrast to make a background which is stitched entirely in Tent Stitch, but which has pattern in it. I’ll have a book with hundreds of damask patterns out in 2020 and I’m starting a new project with a damask background this week.
Another technique I love for backgrounds is Blackwork. I like the look of it in matching threads on colored canvas or in colored threads on white canvas. This post has tips on how to do it. The Murano glass croos pictured above has Blackwork as a background.
Most often I use a textured stitch for a bacgkround. When the combination of thread, color, and stitch is right, this is a perfect, but simple background. Here are five great stitches for them.
Stripes make powerful backgrounds. Gobelin Stitch patterns are one of the easiest ways to create stripes. This post has lots of stitches and suggestions for these backgrounds. The vintage Fancy Carole watermelon pictured above tok a cone ornament and added a simple striped background to make a picture.
One of the most common types of background is a sky. While there are many great techniques to stitch skies, here are some of the ones I use again and again.
Don’t be afraid of doing something unique for your background. Even if you only have learned Basketweave there is plenty you can do to make your backgrounds exciting.