Canvas work

Canvas work

Canvas work is a type of embroidery in which yarn is stitched "through" a canvas or other foundation fabric. Canvas work is a form of counted-thread embroidery. Common types of canvas work include needlepoint, petit point, and bargello.Reader's Digest "Complete Guide to Needlework". The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. (March 1992). ISBN 0-89577-059-8]


Early canvas work or needlepoint used tent, continental or basketweave stitches, with each stitch covering one canvas intersection.

Bargello, first developed in Europe, uses colors and stitches across multiple canvas intersections to create motion and patterns. Modern methods have incorporated crewel and other embroidery stitches to add depth and differences not only by shading but by texture.

Contemporary materials

Several types of embroidery canvas are available: single thread and double thread embroidery canvas are open even-weave meshes, with large spaces or holes to allow heavy threads to pass through without fraying. Aida cloth or Hardanger fabric can also be used for canvas work, and plastic canvas is used in craft projects.

Canvas is measured by the number of squares per inch or centimetre.

In canvas work the stitches may completely cover the canvas. Newer methods will use the canvas as part of the pattern.

Yarns vary from knitting yarns and tapestry wools to pure silk, synthetic, or metallic threads. Fine ribbons, plastic thread, raffia and string can also be used in canvas work.


A famous example of a large carpet worked in canvas work is the Bradford carpet which is on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

See: Needlepoint, Berlin wool work


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