As I travel down the rabbit hole that is needlepoint, I grow more acquainted with the designs one can purchase on ready-made canvases. One common type of needlepoint canvas is Christmas ornament designs. Since I want to make a geeky one as a gift and canvas painters avoid others’ IP, I had to make up my own. I’m not ready to show off that full design yet; I want to avoid spoiling the surprise. However, as an intermediate step I built a needlepoint ornament template, which I am happy to share.
The final size is 59 (W) x 69 (H) intersections. Approximate finished dimensions are:
- 18-count canvas: 3.2″ x 3.8″
- 16-count canvas: 3.7″ x 4.3″
- 14-count canvas: 4.2″ x 4.9″
Using the Template
The downloadable Microsoft Excel file uses columns and rows sized to create a grid of squares. These are filled in to form the outline pattern on the Template tab. The center of the design is marked with a pink square to aid in counting.
It’s important to note each square represents an intersection on the canvas. If drawing this on canvas by hand, you’ll want to count the squares in the template and mark that many intersections by hand, as shown below.
Mark the center of your canvas, then count 29 intersections to the left or right of it. The intersection you land on will be the uppermost intersection in the line of 11 in a row on that side. Work your way around the edge from there until you come back to the starting point. Voila! You now have an ornament outline on your canvas.
- All the lines around the outer edge are 1, 2, 4, 11, or 17 lines long. If you’re counting any other number in a row, something is wrong.
- Although the ornament topper portion is filled in with solid silver, please think of it as a guide. It doesn’t have to be solid. You can make it gold or another color. Have fun with it.
- Fine-tip Sharpes work well for marking canvas. For the black canvas above, I used a metallic silver Sharpe.
- When working the canvas, plan to cover the outline up. Don’t leave them unstitched – the marks may show when you finish the ornament
One option for using this needlepoint ornament template is to put the outline down on canvas and then drop in your favorite stitches and colors at whim. While this can lead to some super fun ornaments, what if you want to consciously create a design?
Making a pattern using the template spreadsheet is easy. The Example Design tab shows this off pretty well. To create it, I duplicated the template tab and then filled in cells with different colors. You’ll note I drew over the outline with green, as the outer edges of the template are meant to be stitched.
The easiest way to fill in multiple cells in a short span of time is actually to use copy and paste. Do you see the little color palettes that take up the first few cells on both the Template and Example Design tabs? That’s what they’re for – you can make sure you always have at least one square of each color available to copy, even if you’re having trouble and erase a whole section.
You can select a square, copy it, and then click and drag to select a huge swath of squares, then hit paste and color them all at once. It saves on mouse movement – and clicks, if you use the keyboard shortcuts for copy and paste – and time.
- Video game art is an excellent source of inspiration for how to draw lines and curves effectively using squares. Modern monitors have high enough resolution we can’t usually see the pixels at work, but back in the day that was untrue. People still make video games with graphics inspired by those times to this day, and while you can see every square, pixel art has come a long way.
- If you’re super mathy and want perfect curves but also lazy, consider using a pixel circle/oval generator. They’re all over the place thanks to Minecraft, but I usually use the one linked in the previous sentence.
Why Do This?
Pre-made canvasas are pricey. They should be, though! A good needlepoint canvas is a painted work of art to embellish. (See my fledgling needlepoint canvases board on Pinterest for examples if you’re unfamiliar.)
It’s possible to automate the process by stamping a design on canvas, and there are companies that do that. Unfortunately, the end result is trickier to use. It’s easier to make clean-looking works of needlepoint if the canvas is painted with care to ensure each intersection is one color only. There’s no way to guarantee that with stamping.
I have limited funds to spend on canvases. I also want to make a lot of ornaments. Rather than re-work the basic ornament shape every time, it made sense to me to make a needlepoint ornament template. I hope you’ll also enjoy making use of this to save time and pump out more cool crafts for yourself and others.