What is the difference between needlepoint and embroidery ?

Embroidery, like the term needlework, is the all-inclusive generic name for stitches done with a needle and thread.

Needlepoint, also known as canvas work, is embroidery worked into an evenweave canvas to solidly cover the canvas weave. Traditionally the stitches were worked in wool resulting in a sturdy cover that served remarkably well for chair or bench covers, pillows, small rugs. Needlepoint was the go-to method for an upholstery piece or cover.

Surface stitchery, embroidery which is done on fabric stretched in a hoop, can be simple outlines on linens to solid motifs on jackets, sleeves, vests. This approach can be less formal than the familiar counted cross stitch on evenweave fabrics and may use many different stitches in different weights of cotton, silk or ribbon.

Today the lines have begun to blur between genres of embroidery. Surface stitchery is now being worked on canvas alongside traditional needlepoint stitches, with the finished piece finished from small ornaments to large framed pieces. Canvas are often hand-painted and interpreted in stitches leaving an ample amount of exposed colored canvas exposed between stitches for effect and texture. Beads, charms, and odd pieces are stitched into works for interest; novelty threads of straw, poly or metallic add spark.

Tradition still lives in continuing interest for older techniques such as hardanger, whitework, pulled thread work, colonial stumpwork, however a great deal of techniques are now blended into contemporary work that just ain’t your grandmother’s needlework any more


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