Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Good Stitching Supplies on the Cheap

New needlepointers are always astounded at the cost of our art.  When you consider that painted canvases are handmade, not machine made, that except for DMC cotton floss the threads are made by small businesses in small batches, and that classes, books and stitch guides will be sold in multiples of ten, not 100, well, you can understand that prices are high.  There just isn't the volume or any way to make quality items for hand stitching in quantity to drive down prices.

But smart shoppers can do needlepoint on the cheap.  Below I will list quality items that are not too expensive and list places where one can do smart shopping.

Essential Tools
I really like these small but sharp embroidery scissors with comfortable plastic handles.  I think the lavender ones have slightly curved blades, but otherwise the various colors are identical and you can't beat the price.  A lot of stitchers use these for air travel as they are cheap but sharp and if they are confiscated you aren't out much money.

Bohin makes superb needles and are often available in bulk.  For needlepoint you'll use size 18, 20 and 22 the most.

Stretcher bars make stitching easier but they are not entirely necessary.  They are not wildly expensive even in a needlepoint shop, but eBay is a good place to find bargains.  These are new but a stash sale of a bunch of used stretcher bars in mixed sizes is the best auction if you need to add these to your supply box. You can reuse old stretcher bars for years, after all.  Avoid Evertites which are lovely but much more expensive.

If you are using stretcher bars, you'll need either tacks or staples to attach the canvas to the stretcher bars.  If you have a heavy duty stapler in the house already, use that.  You may have thumbtacks on hand, too, but you need rust proof ones, preferably with big heads.  Like these—

Note that a tack remover is nice but you can use a butter knife or even a staple puller to help remove the tacks once you finish stitching on the canvas the tacks are holding.

Plain needlepoint canvas is always a good thing to have and widely available on eBay.  You can doodle on it as you practice stitches or you can create a design from a chart on it.  Size 13 and 18 count (sometimes called 13 or 18 mesh) needlepoint canvas is the most common size stitchers use these days.  Look for Zweigart orange line, which is the best quality. It has an orange thread woven into the selvage edge.

Nothing beats plain old DMC cotton floss and DMC perle cotton for the range of colors available and the fact that you can pick this stuff up at almost any big box crafts or sewing store.  Choose size 8 perle cotton for 18 count and size 5 for 13 count designs.   Toss in a spool of gold and silver Kreinik metallic (size 8 or 12 for 18 count, size 12 or 16 for 13 count) and you can stitch almost any design just with DMC.

Be a little wary of the printed needlepoint kits you can find at the big box stores.  The design quality is high but the printed canvas design is not always straight on the canvas.  The threads in the kits are not always high quality, either.  But if not knowing exactly what color goes where doesn't bother you, one of these printed kits is a fabulous way to learn on a nice design.

Painted canvases are expensive but painted canvases on eBay and the various stash sales sites are not always high in price.  However, just because a design is painted doesn't mean it will be easy to needlepoint.  Avoid designs with a lot of fine detail and many color changes for your first piece.  They are harder to stitch successfully when you don't have much experience.

That doesn't mean you can only choose pieces appropriate for small kids, though!  This Stitch and Zip kit is lovely but not that difficult a pattern.  It comes with thread and is self-finishing.  You unzip the canvas to stitch it, then zip it together again to use.  No finishing costs!  The only hard thing about this is you'll have one small area where you have to stitch very close to the zipper.  You'll have to hold it out of the way as you stitch, which isn't always easy.  But get past that and you have a lovely and useful item that you practiced even tent stitches on.

Need a fast, practical gift?  Look for the self-finishing items from Pointe to Point.

Want to run a little wild with fancy stitches?  Then check out the counted canvaswork designs.  There are a ton of free patterns available online.  Raid your stash or use all DMC except for one special thread you splurge on.  Then frame it using a sale coupon at the big box crafts stores.  Here are several places with great free patterns.

Check out this page and also the "Free Patterns from Magazines" and "Free Patterns from Other Designers" sections here.

eBay is a great source, but don't get carried away and bid far too much for something.  There's always a new auction coming along.

Check your local quilt store.  They may have some great threads and supplies you can use.  I can get Finca perle cotton and Cosmo cotton floss at the quilt store nearest me.  Any sewing store will carry scissors and thimbles and such, so watch for sales.

Check out Etsy.  New painted canvas designers sometimes set up an Etsy store in the beginning.
HannahBerryBird, A Dragon's Tale Direct, colors1, and MyPinkSugarLife are good places to browse needlepoint canvases.  You can also find shops that sell charts, blank canvas, threads and painted canvases from a variety of designers.

Stash sales sites are all over these days.  You will have to have a Facebook account (and be vetted by Needlepoint Nation Stash Exchange) before you can buy.  Some are better than others at customer service, though.  Buyer beware.  Here are all the ones I've heard about:

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
Blogging at
and at
© Copyright November 5, 2017 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.

Dry Skin and Lotions

Paige over at Needlepoint Nation decided she would test various lotions for her dry hands. She's trying to find a fast-absorbing lotion she can use before stitching.   She has two clear favorites, but read the comments.  Some folks are allergic to lanolin which is in her favorite and some wonder if a lanolin-based lotion will stain silk which doesn't have lanolin in it already, unlike wool.

Kudos to Paige for experimenting.  Not everyone's skin is the same, so what works for her may not work for you, but at least will give us all ideas.   Her favorite is available at Walmart.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
Blogging at
and at
© Copyright March 22, 2021 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.