Needlepoint Toolkit

Selecting your Thread

You can use a variety of threads for your needlepoint projects ranging from cotton, wool, rayon and silk. DMC offers beautiful needlepoint threads from lustrous Pearl Cottons to soft Tapestry Wools. All DMC threads are made from the best quality materials and 100% colorfast and fade resistant.

DMC Tapestry Wool is a soft smooth non-divisible 100% wool yarn. This type of yarn is normally worked on larger mesh canvas sizes 10 to 14. Tapestry Wool's gentle twist and thickness provide excellent canvas coverage with a smooth, even texture. It is best to work with lengths of yarn no longer than 18-20 inches to prevent fraying and wearing down of the yarn while stitching. DMC Tapestry Wool is available in a beautiful colorfast palette of 390 colors. Tapestry Wool also provides 47 of the most popular background colors available in a larger 43 yard skein for your convenience.

DMC Pearl Cotton is a finely twisted non-divisible thread that has a supple silky feel and gives your needlepoint a shiny raised texture and lustrous finish. DMC Pearl Cotton skeins are available in sizes 3 and 5. DMC Pearl Cotton Balls are available in sizes 5, 8 and 12 to accommodate a wide range of mesh canvas.

DMC Floche is a size 16 mercerized indivisible, single-strand embroidery thread made from long staple Egyptian cotton. This beautiful thread has a soft, luxurious hand and can be used in needlepoint and fine needlepoint such as petite point.

DMC Cotton Embroidery Floss has a silken sheen and gives an exquisite finish to any needlepoint project. Because it is a divisible cotton, any number of strands may be used to stitch on the widest variety of mesh sizes. DMC Floss is made of long staple Egyptian cotton and is double mercerized to a brilliant luster. DMC Cotton Embroidery Floss is available in over 450 solid colors.

DMC Color Variations are beautiful “overdyed” threads designed to create subtle variations in color without having to change threads. Each skein has a blend of soft multi-colors that flow seamlessly into one another along the length of the thread. Color Variations are available in a palette of 36 distinct blends of colors in both 6-strand Cotton Floss and Pearl Cotton size 5.

DMC Light Effects add light and reflective qualities to your design. These 6-strand glistening threads are created to dazzle and is the perfect specialty thread for highlights and decorative sparkles. Available in a diverse assortment of colors to compliment any needlepoint, Light Effects come in these distinct color groups: Precious Metals, Jewels, Antiques, Pearlescent, Fluorescents and Glow-in-the-Dark. Light Effects threads look wonderful stitched by itself on your canvas, or blended with cotton floss to add subtle sparkle.

DMC Satin Floss adds exceptional beauty and sheen to needlepoint. These lustrous 6-strand threads glide easily through fabrics and come in a vibrant palette of 60 colors created to inspire. Use Satin Floss to accent areas where you want a notable glossy shine.

Estimating Thread for a Needlepoint Project:

Thread amounts for a project depend on numerous variables; the kind of stitch you’ll be using and the tension are the two primary ones. A quick way to estimate the amount of thread you will need for a project is to take an 18”, half yard length of thread and stitch the canvas until the thread is finished. You will then know how many stitches per length of thread you can make.

Each skein and spool of DMC threads has a measured amount of yardage on it. By using your calculator you should be able to determine the amount of thread you will need.

Selecting a Canvas

Canvas is selected based on the mesh size – the number of holes per inch of canvas – and threads selected for a needlepoint project are based on the mesh count. Thicker threads such as tapestry wool or #3 Pearl Cotton are used for canvases with lower mesh counts (fewer holes) and finer threads such as #5 Pearl Cotton, Floss, Floche or other thinner threads are used for canvases with higher mesh counts (more holes per inch).

The different types of needlepoint canvas available on the market are Mono, Interlock, Penelope, Rug and Plastic Canvas, all available in a wide assortment of mesh sizes and colors.

Mono canvas is a single thread woven canvas where both the vertical and horizontal threads are the same diameter and the threads are spaced the same distance apart. Mono canvas has a certain amount of “give’ to the fabric and is the choice canvas for cushions and upholstery.

Interlock Mono Canvas is a single thread canvas and is distinguished by having the vertical threads bound around each horizontal thread “locking” them in place. This weave stabilizes the canvas and makes it possible to trim the canvas close to the finished work without unraveling. Interlock does not stretch and is generally used for printed manufactured canvases and smaller projects.

Silk gauze is a form of interlock and is used for very fine petit-point work. Silk gauze comes in numerous small counts making it perfect for doll house reproductions and detailed needlepoint

Penelope canvas is a double thread canvas where both the vertical and horizontal threads are woven in pairs which create alternating large and small meshes in the same weaving to accommodate both large and or small stitches. Penelope sizes are expressed with two numbers to describe the counts of both meshes in the canvas such as 10/20. This canvas is perfect for décor items and for a mix of intricate and more quickly stitched large background stitches.

Rug Canvas is a mesh of strong cotton threads, woven and twisted so that the threads are strong and inseparable. Canvases come in different gauges and mesh sizes are 3.3 and 5 the latter being better for more patterned work.

Plastic Canvas is a stiff material that is generally used for smaller projects and is sold in “pre-cut pieces" and various shapes rather than by the yard. Plastic canvas is ideal for 3 dimensional projects because it can easily be cut to size and the edges will not unravel. Beginners who want to practice different stitches find this easy and inexpensive canvas easy to see and to hold in their hands.

Scroll Bars, Frames & Stretcher Bars


Scroll Bar Frames helps keep your canvas taut and reduces warping. Scroll Bar Frames consists of 2 wooden roller bars and two flat spacer bars. The spacers hold the scroll bars apart. Each manufactures system is different but generally the bars have a strip of webbing material attached it so that you can sew the top and bottom edges of your canvas on to it. The ends of the scroll bars screw into the spacer bars with screws and nuts that you can adjust to the tension you want by rolling the scroll bars in opposite directions. This style of frame is perfect for working on larger designs because the fabric is scrolled up or down onto the scroll bars as the design is stitched. Select a scroll bar size that is slightly wider than your canvas and spacer bars that are comfortable to work with. Be sure to read and follow the manufactures instructions for the system you select.

TIP: To keep the horizontal tension as firm as the vertical tension on your scroll bar frame, lace the side edges of the canvas to the spacer bars. Adjustable Frame Clips are also an option. The adjustable straps wrap around the spacer bars and attach to the canvas edges with gripper clips. Several are usually needed to hold the horizontal span taut. These clips are easy to use and eliminate timely lacing.

Stretcher Bars are strips of wood that are dovetailed at the ends where the bars fit together to form an open square or rectangle. Your canvas is then attached to the frame with tacks to hold it in place. These easy to use bars are sold in pairs. Two pairs of bars are needed to make a frame; one pair for the width of your canvas and the other pair for the length.

TIP: Use brass tacks to prevent rust marks.

Floor and Table Stands are available in a variety of styles and materials. These stands hold the frame in place allowing you to keep both hands free for “two handed” stitching. Stands are adjustable so you can arrange the height and angle of the frame to your liking. Many stands come with scroll frames that can also be detached for portability.

Selecting the Right Needle

Tapestry needles are used in needlepoint, because they have blunt tips and elongated eyes. The blunt tips pass smoothly between the fibers in the canvas and the elongated eyes accommodate the thicker threads used in needlepoint. The size of the needle you will use depends on the size of the mesh of the needlepoint canvas. For example, a narrow needle should be used on fine-mesh canvas, while a thicker needle is used on canvases with larger hole sizes. Select a needle that accommodates your thread and will enter the canvas with little or no drag on the thread. Tapestry Needles are sized by number and the bigger the number, the smaller or finer the needle. Refer to the DMC Needle Guide to see which needles are best for the thread being used.

8-10 Mesh Canvas - use a size 16 tapestry needle
10-12 Mesh Canvas - use a size 18 tapestry needle
12-14 Mesh Canvas - use a size 20 tapestry needle
16-18 mesh canvas - use a size 22 tapestry needle

Click here to see how to thread your needle