Stitch of the Week – Tent Stitch

The Tent Stitch is a type of tent stitch, and is the most basic of all needlepoint stitches, forming a single, diagonal stitch over an intersection of canvas. There are three main types of Tent Stitch, each has a different degree of cover, pros and cons, and uses.

Here are the nitty gritty basics You can learn more about working the stitches, see what they look like from both the back and front sides of your work, and access diagrams for each stitch on the main Tent Stitch page.

The Basketweave Stitch is the most popular stitch for filling a large area of the canvas. This stitch has the requisite diagonal stitch on the front of the canvas, but has vertical and horizontal stitches on the reverse (back) side of the canvas.The main benefit to working basketweave over the other types of tent stitches are that there is no distortion – the vertical and horizontal stitches on the back side effectively cancel out the diagonal stitches on the front side, so there’s no pulling of the canvas, causing the distortion. Basketweave also has very good thread coverage.

The Half Cross Stitch is the same stitch used in cross stitch embroidery, and also forms a tidy vertical stitch on the front side of the work – but can severely distort the canvas. At times the warping is so severe that blocking won’t help – the straightened piece will eventually work itself back into its warped shape.While working this stitch may seem more economical than the other two because it requires less thread, it has very poor thread coverage. This leaves you with the possibility of seeing woven ends and tails right through the front side of the work. This stitch should only be used as a last resort, when basketweave or continentalstitches are not practical for filling an area.

The Continental Stitch is also popular with stitchers for working straight lines, because the stitch is worked in vertical or horizontal rows and also has good thread coverage.The drawback of using Continental tent stitch is that while there are nice, tidy diagonal stitches on the front side, there are longer diagonal stitches on the back, which cause distortion. Because of this, use the continental stitch for narrow lines or bands and borders, or to fill small areas where basketweave is not practical.

For more fun needlework ideas, visit The Stitches page for more needlepoint and embroidery stitch diagrams, or the Patterns and Projects page for free patterns you can print and stitch.

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