Two Strategies For Creating Beautiful Backgrounds On Your Needlepoint Projects

How to Create Beautiful Backgrounds on Your Needlepoint Canvases

Mastering Backgrounds On Your Needlepoint Projects

Today, we’re diving into the world of backgrounds on your needlepoint projects. As a needlepoint artist, you know that the background can make or break your project. It’s not just about the focal point; the background plays a vital role in tying everything together to create a cohesive piece of needlepoint art.

Backgrounds serve one of two functions. Either they fill the space around the main design element (i.e., focal point) for finishing purposes OR they serve to provide context for the focal point and supporting design elements so that the composition makes sense.

There are two main types of backgrounds you’ll encounter in needlepoint: artist-created backgrounds and blank space backgrounds.

Artist-Created Backgrounds: A Canvas Within a Canvas

When an artist paints a landscape or a still life, the background is part of the overall composition, as on this lovely canvas by Julie Mar Designs…


Here, the background consists of the ocean, the sky, and the clouds, providing context for the sailboat (the focal point). Since the “background” is part of the design, your primary focus will be on choosing the perfect stitches and threads to enhance the existing design components. Your stitches will add depth, texture, and dimension to this already beautiful composition.

Blank Space Backgrounds: A World of Possibilities

On the other hand, a blank space background is like a fresh page in a sketchbook – full of potential and waiting for your creative touch. With a single design element on a solid-colored canvas, like “Heloise Hooty” by Janet Burnett in the picture below, you have the freedom to create a background that complements your focal point.


Sandra Arthur’s interpretation of Heloise places her on a wood floor with an interesting “wallpaper” behind her, but that’s just one possibility for creating a “scene” for your central design feature (i.e., your focal point).

If you were stitching Heloise, what kind of scene would you create for her?

Creating Depth and Dimension

One of the most important principles to keep in mind when making decisions about what kind of background you’re going to create for your project is perspective. When you have a canvas with an artist-created background – or if you plan to create your own scene around a central design component on a blank space background – you want to incorporate a sense of depth and dimension.

Let’s look at another canvas by Julie Mar Designs, “Floating Comfort”…

On this piece, you’ll want to vary your stitch sizes and thread weights to achieve a realistic sense of perspective. Use smaller, lighter stitches for distant elements like the sky, where it meets the water at the horizon line. As you move closer to the foreground, gradually increase the size of your stitches and the thickness of your threads. This will create a sense of depth, drawing the viewer’s eye into the scene.

Making It Your Own

However you choose to complete the backgrounds on your needlepoint projects, they should reflect the intended use of your finished piece. Will your canvas be a framed work of art, a cozy pillow, or a charming ornament? Let the end use guide your decisions on stitch selection, thread type, and overall background treatment.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different background techniques, either. That’s how you learn – and grow – as a needlepoint artist.

The beauty of needlepoint is that every piece you stitch is an expression of your unique style and creativity.

Alrighty, my friend – that’s all for now.

Until next time, happy stitching…
Stitch with a smile!

2 thoughts on “Two Strategies For Creating Beautiful Backgrounds On Your Needlepoint Projects”

  1. Wow, you packed a lot of information in that short lesson and it was all so helpful. Thank you for sharing!

    • Hi Jackie!
      I’m so glad you enjoyed the blog post! Thank you for taking the time to stop by for a visit – and for your kind words.


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Serendipity Needleworks

Hi, I’m Ellen. A needlepoint teacher and author dedicated to helping motivated but overwhelmed stitchers at every stage find exactly what they need to stitch with confidence. Whether you’re just dipping your toe into the needlepoint world or you’re ready to take your skills to the next level, I’ve fine-tuned a learning experience just for you.

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