Half-Cross Tent Needlepoint Stitch Tutorial

  • 01 of 02

    About the Half Cross Tent Needlepoint Stitch

    Half Cross Needlepoint Stitch-front and back
    Althea DeBrule

    The Half Cross Tent Stitch is the name of the first stitch a beginner learns to make in needlepoint. It gets its name from the “half stitch” that is used in cross stitch embroidery on even weave fabric and it works the same way—except on needlepoint canvas.

    Many beginner needlepointers, who are also avid cross stitchers, mistakenly believe that it is the only stitch you can make in needlepoint. However, this is not the case. The Half Cross Tent stitch belongs to the family of tent needlepoint stitches that includes both Continental and Basketweave as well and has been used for centuries in making needlepoint projects.

    The Half Cross Tent Stitch Does Not Adequately Cover the Canvas

    Although it is the easiest of the tent stitches to learn and use, there are a few drawbacks to working a needlepoint project with this technique. Although the stitch uses less yarn than almost any other needlepoint stitch, the result is an uneven appearance on both the front and back of the canvas.

    • Take a look at the left image above. This is the right side of the needlepoint canvas. If you were to hold this stitched section up to the light, you would see uneven spots of light peeking through the canvas.
    • The right image is the wrong side of the canvas. The Half Cross Tent stitch makes vertical straight stitches on the back of the canvas that rest in the spaces between canvas mesh threads. No matter the type of thread or how many strands are used, it still does not give the proper coverage.

    The way the stitch is made guarantees that the thread will not fully cover all canvas mesh threads on the wrong side.

    When Working Large Needlepoint Projects, It’s Hard to Maintain an Even Stitching Tension

    • The Half Cross Tent stitch is not suitable for working large pattern areas on mono needlepoint canvas, as the mesh threads can be pulled out of shape, making the tension uneven as you work from one stitch to the next.
    • It should only be used for larger motifs and design areas on interlock or Penelope needlepoint canvas with reinforced or double mesh threads.

    When to Use the Half Cross Tent Needlepoint Stitch

    Even with the disadvantages, the Half Cross Tent stitch still serves a purpose. It is great for stitching small areas of a design where the Continental and Basketweave stitches will not fit and you need to squeeze in a stitch or two to complete the needlepoint project (see the next slide for stitch diagram and detailed instructions).

    Continue to 2 of 2 below.
  • 02 of 02

    How to Work the Half Cross Tent Needlepoint Stitch

    Half cross tent stitch diagram
    Althea DeBrule

    This basic half cross tent stitch is always worked in rows from left to right (left-handed stitchers will find this encouraging) and diagonally from bottom left to top right for each stitch (see the stitch diagram image above). Simply follow the numbers on the diagram to get the best possible result when working the Half Cross Tent Needlepoint Stitch. Here's how:

    1. Starting at the left side of the needlepoint design area, bring the tapestry needle up from the back of the canvas at 1 and go diagonally down again into the back at 2. Repeat this sequence by coming up at ​3 and going down at 4. Continue across the row as shown in the stitch diagram until you reach the right side of the needlepoint design area.
    2. At this point you can either turn your canvas around and repeat the entire sequence beginning at 1 again and stitching across the entire row; or without turning the canvas, you can work the stitch from right to left alternately as per the diagram by coming up at 9 and going down at 10; and then coming up at 11 and going down at 12, and so forth until you reach the end of the row.
    3. Work additional rows as needed to complete the needlepoint design area. Just remember that each stitch starts by coming up from the back and ends by going down again into the back.

    Once you get the feel of the Half Cross Tent Needlepoint Stitch, you’ll find out how quick and easy it is to work a row of stitches. The direction of the needle (either pointed up or down) on the back of the canvas as you complete each stitch will show you where to place the next one, and eventually, you will no longer need to look at the diagram.