Although stripes are iconic patterns, they can be a conundrum in needlepoint if they are background. The pattern attracts attention all by itself.
How do you reconcile these patterns with the need to be more subdued?
It’s a particular problem when the stripes are narrow, such as these are, or have a strong color contrast.
In stitching this piece I picked shiny metallics for the letters to put more focus on them. Even with this I could still overwhelm the lettering by my choice of stitch for the stripes. If I wanted to emphasize the stripes I would pick a stitch that would stitch them solidly. Possibilities include Straight or Diagonal Gobelin, Scotch, Cashmere, or Wide Diaper. All of these would create problems for the lettering.
Instead I looked to the principles for choosing backgrounds: make it open, make it thinner, make it close in color to the canvas. The first two principles act to make the background raced visually from the foreground. Here that’s particularly important because background and foreground are similar in value.
The third principle, matching color, allows you to create a background that gives texture instead of color. I have used this principle often to create effective backgrounds. Here I picked a hand-dyed limited edition silk from The Thread Gatherer that was slightly lighter than the canvas. The end result looks tweedy.
For stitches I went with my favorite, T Stitch. Other possibilities include Background Stitch (seen as the background on yesterday’s birds or Skip Tent. If the stripes were one thread wider I would have enough room for Straight T.
Can Background Stripes Be a Focal Point?
If the stripes are wide, yes stripes can be the focal point. On this Jack o’Lantern pattern (free here) two alternating threads and textured stitches make the striped background the focal point.
In painted canvases the wide stripes of the sayings from &More are the focal point of the canvases. Use metallics or beads to make the letters stand out against the patterned background.
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
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