What is the Difference Between Cross Stitch and Needlepoint, and Which One is Harder?

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What is the difference between cross
stitch and needlepoint

There are major differences between cross stitch and needlepoint, and either one can be simple or can become complex. There are striking differences between the two. For instance, in needlepoint, stitching is performed on a canvas with the images usually hand painted or printed onto the canvas. Most of the time the images are in color on the canvas, but some are simply outlined in black leaving you to fill in the colors with floss or wool. In cross stitch, the stitching is performed on material or cloth like Aida or even weave. Cross stitch is performed with cotton embroidery floss, satin floss or metallic floss. Needlepoint is performed with either cotton floss or something much heavier like wool.

Simplest Needlework Forms

The simplest form of needlepoint is performed simply by making a diagonal stitch from point A to point B on the cloth. In cross stitch, we go a step further. After making the stitch from point A to point B, you will be making a stitch diagonally across the other stitch in the opposite direction to form a cross or an “X”.

More Complex Cross Stitching

Cross stitch can become more difficult in certain instances like when you are asked to perform French knots or what is called “confetti stitching.” Confetti stitching is when there are a lot of color changes in one area, or it could be a smathering of the same color interspersed and heavily concentrated in an area one to two stitches apart. Cross stitch also becomes a challenge when you are asked to perform quarter stitches or petit point stitching. Quarter stitches are simply half of a half cross stitch, but nevertheless, can become difficult if you’re not used to doing them. Petit cross stitching is done over one thread of even weave and is usually reserved for very fine detailed stitching. On the other hand, complex techniques of needlepoint can be demonstrated by using what are called “specialty stitches.” Some of these are very elaborate, complex, and are often beautifully demonstrated in websites like “It’s Not Your Grandmother’s Needlepoint” where the art is in the stitching and not necessarily in the picture that is being stitched.


Either way, cross stitch and needlepoint have their fans. I happen to be a fan of both and use them interchangeably on different projects I have set up around the house. If you’ve been working on a long cross stitch project and you need a break from routine, a needlepoint project just may be the alternative to refresh your zest for stitching and break up the intensity of working with the other project. It’s often nice to have an alternative project you can go to in these instances.


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