Covering a Painted Canvas Entirely with Squares

Bobbi Sher's "Orcas,"  printed design by Sandra Greba

The first person I saw do this technique is Brenda Hart.  A very creative stitcher, Brenda probably invented this technique before 2000.

You can find the stitch diagrammed as "Squares and Rectangles" in various sizes in Brenda's Stitches for the Millennium, pages 69-70.

Ruth Schmuff's posting about the technique here includes a stitch diagram but you will have to adjust the size of the boxes to fit in your design.  You should not compensate at the edges.  You can find this stitch diagramed as "Squares-in-Square" in Ruth's iStitches Vol. 3.  "Four Way Hungarian" in Ruth's iStitches Vol. 4 is a much simpler version.

Linda Sher's "Japanese Pond", design by Mindy

You will need a canvas with a lot of detail and a thin thread.  I believe Brenda Hart uses gold Madeira  or Lacquered Jewels, but Ruth Schmuff has used Accentuate.  Other folks double the Accentuate to use two strands or go with size 4 Kreinik very fine braid.  You could also use a ply of silk but I don't think the look would be as interesting with a matte thread.  Bijoux might create a more muted sparkle.  In the portrait of her dogs below, Liz used four colors of Accentuate, each doubled in the needle.

Liz Watson's custom dog portrait from Nimble Needle, Atlanta

And of course any stitch will work in this technique, but the regularity of the boxes appeals to a lot of people.  It also looks great used on a set of canvases!   Amy Bunger shows off three Leigh Designs tropical fish done in this technique at the bottom of page 18 of her October/November 2017 shop newsletter.

Courtesy of The Needlepaint Nook

The Needlepaint Nook in Merrick, NY has a customer who did this airplane portrait all in one strand and color of Splendor.

Many thanks to Linda and Bobbi and Liz for allowing me to post photographs of their designs using this technique!

UPDATE:  Needlepoint For Fun has a simplified version of the square boxes stitch.  This will be useful for a smaller design or for details in a huge piece.

UPDATE #2:  You don't have to use the square within a square stitch.  Many others work just as well.  Proof courtesy of Ruth Schmuff of Bedecked and Beadazzled!


  1. Thank you to all for your response. Now I know what I was doing wrong. Rip and start all over again!