Tips on Tension

Every stitcher strives for smooth and even stitches.  If this is something you struggle with, here are some tips that will help. 


Close up of Plums needlepoint cushion


Tip 1 - Stitch in good lighting.  If you are straining to see, you will be more likely to tug too hard on your thread, or not notice when a stitch is a little loose.  

Tip 2 - What's the right amount of tension?   The Elizabeth Bradley tapestry wool used in our needlepoint kits has some elasticity to it - it "gives" a little.  Pull your needle through until you feel the resistance of the yarn and the stitching is nesting in place.  You want it to be snug but not tight!  You will get a feel for this as you stitch more - practice makes perfect!  

Tip 3 - Let your needle dangle and unwind every once in awhile especially if you feel that your thread is twisting whilst stitching.  Wool that is over-wound doesn't sit flat on the canvas.  

Tip 4 - If you are having trouble filling in small areas which are surrounded by other stitches, you can use the pull and poke method - push the needle down through the canvas and then bring your dominant hand to the underside of the canvas to pull the needle through and guide it back to the front.  Take your time with these "filling in" areas and make sure each stitch is nested properly before moving to the next one.  

Close up of Blooms Echinacea needlepoint cushion





My daughter in South Africa has given me (in New Zealand) a kit as a gift. Something different to do. I am enjoying the challenge and am already trying to decide which one to do next? All so beautiful which makes choosing the difficult part.

Mary Pettigrew January 18, 2022

These tips have reassured me that I’m working correctly and have inspired me to redouble my efforts to make each stitch perfect!

Florence October 05, 2020

I have stitched approximately 16+ EB canvas designs and have really enjoyed them: 6 chair seat pieces, several small pieces, your larger anaimal pieces, the 6 canvases of the creation of the earth, etc. And I think I have one canvas that I have not started (sorry, I can’t remember which one it is). So keep up the good work and yes, I would like to be kept on the mailing list and email lists. My best to all of your staff and you……Rebecca Simpson

Rebecca Simpson October 05, 2020

I’m just finishing my first needlepoint piece in 40+years, surprising myself, but the last 8 months have made it easier. Now to made the pillow I think I’ll use some of my handwoven material for the back.

Martha October 05, 2020

I find it helpful to stitch one color at a time within the design and then fill in the background.

Nancy Barrett October 05, 2020

I have been doing EB tapestries for over 30 years. They have brought me hours of enjoyment. My house is full of them and they are much admired by visitors. Thank you Elizabeth Bradley.

Annabelle Nelson October 05, 2020

To Marcia Mattson – This probably won’t help you. I do both, depending mostly on whether I am stitching continental or basketweave. If continental, I usually will stitch a motif, especially at small or detailed one, in whole and then the surround. If in basketweave, then row by row.

Joyce Hoelzer October 09, 2020

Just a quick note that I really enjoy the kits tha EB have. I have a number of kits and can’t wait to work on them. I currently have two canvases hanging in my living room. Thank you for the beautiful kits. The really are exciting when a kit is finally finished and is hanging in our living room and Den. Thank hou.

Diane Kemper June 05, 2019

I was wondering-do I start at the bottom and stitch the motif as it comes up stitching row by row or do I stitch a whole leaf and then going back to complete the other motifs and background around the leaf?Can someone please email me back with the right answer? I love your kits they are beautiful!

Marcia Mattson June 05, 2019

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