12 Types of Needlework: How many have you tried?

Did you know that there are at least 12 major types of needlework?

Want to know the best places to find them on the web?  Not sure where to start?  

The links provided for each type of needlework will give you an excellent head start -- straight from the experts in their field.  When you click on a link, a new window will appear.

Types of Needlework
Pin It

1. Applique: Creating art with bits of fabric.

Applique is an ancient art of a type of needlework where decorative pieces of one fabric is applied to another base textile.  Applique can be applied to clothing, table linens, and quilts, to name only a few.

AppliequeApplique, Copyright: maxcab / 123RF Stock Photo

If you are unfamiliar with applique, I think one of the best places to look for examples is on Pinterest and YouTube.  You will get a clear picture about how, and in how many forms, applique can be created and applied.  When you look around the Pinterest boards, you realize that you can indeed create art with bits of fabric, cut into shapes, and placed on just abut anything.

The techniques used to apply the applique to a base material can be varied.  Karen Johnson from Connectingthreads.com provides an excellent, step by step tutorial, for turned edge applique. Becky Jorgensen from Pachworkposse.com also provides an easy to follow tutorial on hand applique

Go ahead, explore the above resources and give applique a try.

2. Bead Embroidery: The Art of Embellishing with beads.

Bead embroidery is simply the application of beads to fabric or any item you wish to embellish.  Sounds simple, but the possibilities are endless.  So are the varieties of beads available today.

 "Whenever human beings have found time on their hands, they have shown an inclination to embellish clothes with embroidery & beads". By Jenis M. James

Tweet:
Bead EmbroideryBead Embroidery, Copyright: mynoemy1 / 123RF Stock Photo

According to Janis M. James, in his "5000 Years of Beads", the history of bead embellishment and bead embroidery spanned at least 5000 years, and practiced by many cultures.

Today, bead embroidery is extensively used in Haute Couture and Indian/Asian fashion houses.  It is also used to make bead jewelry and to embellish everyday household items.

All you have to do is look at the numerous bead embroidery tutorials and patterns available on Pinterest to have a taste of the possibilities. 

The types of stitches used in bead embroidery are straightforward, and much depend on the type of beads used.  Anne Benson at beadeast.com provides and excellent video: the basics of bead embroidery.

3. Crocheting: For those who prefer a hooked needle.

It is just amazing the variety of "fabrics" and patterns you can create by inter-looping yarn or thread with a hooked needle.  Crocheting is the type of needlework that has been practice for centuries.  Ruthie Marks gives an excellent introduction to the History of Crochet, worth exploring. 

CrochetingCrocheting, Copyright: rehtse / 123RF Stock Photo

If you are new to crocheting, you can find excellent instructions at Crochet 911 put together by craftyarncouncil.com or Crochet 101 published by Vogue Knitting Magazine.

There are many different types of crocheting. Take a look at these two YouTube videos on Irish and Tunisian crochet, to see how each has its techniques of stitches and outcomes. 

If you are looking for an active group, discussing all aspect of crocheting from beginners to advanced, check out this Reddit crochet group.  Also, don't forget to check out Pinterest to see what's happening in the world of crochet.  Guaranteed to give you some inspiration.

Finally, if you are looking for pattern inspirations, I have put together a list of 29 hard to find antique crochet books available online.  In them, you will find plenty instructions and free patterns to try.

4. Cross Stitch: a passion of many needle workers.

The type of needlework practiced by many needleworkers is Cross Stitch.  Cross stitch is very versatile as it can be stitched on Aida, linen or even weave fabric, using embroidery thread or floss.

Cross StitchCross Stitch, Copyright: popovaphoto / 123RF Stock Photo

An excellent source for how to information on cross stitch is thecrossstitchguild.com and Wikihow.com.

If you prefer videos, check out Cross Stitch: the Basics and How to do basic cross stitch on YouTube.

There are no shortages of cross stitch patterns available online.  To get an idea of the types of cross stitch patterns available, or cross stitch projects being worked on, check out this Pinterest board.

Reddit also has a vibrant and very active community of cross stitch lovers discussing and displaying their cross stitch projects.  Go ahead and see the discussion underway now.

5. Hand Embroidery: The possibilities are endless.

Hand embroidery is a type of needlework where a needle and thread or yarn is used to decorate a piece of fabric.  In many cultures,  beads, pearls, gold or any materials that can be applied with a needle is also used.  Hand embroidery has been practiced for centuries by all cultures, each giving their unique twist to the type of stitches and colors they use. 

Hand EmbroideryHungarian Embroidery, Copyright: katoosha / 123RF Stock Photo

If you are interested in hand embroidery, you must check out Mary Corbet's, Needlenthread.com where she gives detailed description and illustration of at least 20 types of hand embroidery.  Her dedication to spreading the love of hand embroidery is exemplary and tireless.

Need to figure out how to do a certain type of hand embroidery stitch?  You are sure to find it on YouTube where Mary had posted 116 video tutorials on hand embroidery. 

If you prefer a graphic or photo illustration of hand embroidery stitches, check out Jenny Heart's, Hand Embroidery Tutorials.

Carol Leather from Needlework-Tips-And-Techniques.com also has a great article on Hand Embroidery for Beginners

To see examples of the endless possibilities for hand embroidery head over to Pinterest.

6. Knitting: For great stress release.

It is simply amazing what you can create with 2 knitting needles and some yarn.

Yes, the ancient art of knitting is also considered to be a type of needlework.  Knitting needles are used to create loops with yarn that are first gathered on one needle and then transferred onto another with new loops.  Depending on the types of loops formed, (stitches) the texture of the finished piece of "fabric" will wary. 

Today, knitting can be done either by hand or through a knitting machine.

There are numerous places online where you can learn hand knitting. A good place to start is Knit 101 at VogueKnitting.com, Learn To Knit, from Learn2Knit.com.uk, Knitting Basics, from DesignSponge.com and The Knitting Guild Association from tkga.com.

If you are looking for examples of hand knitting and patterns, check out this  Pinterest board for great ideas and possibilities.  Reddit also has a very active Knitting group where knitters post their questions and share their current or completed projects.

I have also prepared a list of 14 hard to find knitting books available online for free.  Check out any of the books listed and you will find some vintage patterns or patterns to practice on.

7. Needle Felting: a type of needlework using wool yarn.

Needle Felting is a type of needlework usually practiced by fiber artist to form various objects (such as needle felted animals) or embellishments using wool yarn.  Unlike traditional felt making water is not used to create the felt.

Needle FeltingNeedle Felting Copyright: djem / 123RF Stock Photo

Lionbrand.com provides and excellent introduction to needle felting.  Globein.com also has a great step by step introduction to needle felting with a video, clearly demonstrating all the equipment you will need and how to use them.  An fantastic tutorial is also provided about the artistic process of needle felting on MyCozyClassics.com

If you are looking for a great needle felting community that discusses all aspects of needle felting, it can be found on Reddit.  For a visual feast of all things needle felt related, check out Pinterest and you will be amazed of the possibilities.

Interested in how to do faces with needle felting?  Check out this tutorial on Youtube.

8. Needle Lace Making: For the finer things in life.

Needle lace making is another type of needlework that requires the most basic equipment: needle, thread and a pair of scissors.  The art of lace making has been practiced since at least the 16th c. Today, there are many types of needle lace, each with its unique technique of completion.

Needle LaceNeedle Lace, Copyright: hoverfly / 123RF Stock Photo

The best sources for learning needle lace are Michael Dennis' How to make a piece of needle lace, Carol Leather's  Needlelace tutorial, and the Textiledreamers' needle lace tutorial.  If you would like to explore the various stitches used in needle lace, consult needlelace stitches at lynxlace.com.

Youtube also has an excellent video on Neeldle Lace Made Easy.

9. Needlepoint: Creating art with yarn.

To create art with needlepoint all you need is a tapestry needle, yarn and an open weave canvas.  You will need to count the number of threads across your canvas and lay your stitches in a way that it will completely cover the surface area of your canvas.  The size of your pattern, and the type of yarn you will need to use is determined by the number of thread counts of your canvas.  The smaller the thread count the finer the yarn, and in some cases thread, you will need to use.

Patterns worked on a very fine canvas (20 count per inch, or higher) is referred to as pettit point.

Most needlepoint or pettit point projects are worked with the use of a frame.  Projects can range from miniature needlepoint to eyeglass cases, cushions, chair covers, to full size needlepoint carpets.  The most common stitch used in needlepoint is tent stitch but in fact, there are hundreds of needlepoint canvas stitches to chose from.  For example, check out 66 needlepoint straight stitches to get inspired.

NeedlepointNeedlepoint Copyright: maramicado / 123RF Stock Photo

To learn about needlepoint, I would recommend checking out Susan Strurgeon Roberts and Carol Leather's, site for excellent tutorials.  The American Needlepoint Guild is also a good resource for all things needlepoint related. 

For a more visual experience check out the numerous Pinterest boards for needlepoint instructions or do a quick search for YouTube videos for the techniques of needlepoint.

For the use of color and modern application of needlepoint, check out Kaffe Fassett and  Ziva-needlepoint-designs.

If you are interested in the history of needlework I highly recommend you check out  The Ultimate Guide To Needlework Books Online.  The guide will give you access to 95 free resources and plenty of patterns to try. 

10. Punch Needle Embroidery and Rug Making

Punch needle or needle punch embroidery is a type of needlework where a hollow needle is used to create loops of yarn or thread while punching through a fabric.  The size or circumference of the hollow needle determines the type of thread or yarn that can be used for punching.  Look around this Pinterest board and you will see the possibilities of this art form practiced by many cultures. 

Besides the hollow needle and thread, you will need a frame for your fabric.  The fabric must be stretch to a drum like tightness before you punch your needle through it.  The tightness of the fabric will ensure even loops of yarn on the reverse side of the fabric and better control of your emerging pattern.

Punch Needle EmbroideryPunch Needle Embroidery, Adobe Stoch Photo

Most people associate punch needle embroidery with using fine needles and thread to create small projects.  In fact, using larger punch needles, like that supplied by Amy Oxford will enable you to create full size rugs or carpets.  Just check out her site for the range of possibilities.  She also has an excellent YouTube video on the Tricks and Tips of punch needle rug hooking.

For "regular" punch needle embroidery tutorials, Claire Menegus from hellocraft.com has a great article on The What’s, Why’s and How’s of Punch Needling.  Youtube also has a good video on Punch Needle Embroidery, which is worth exploring.

11. Quilting: The use of fabric for comfort and art.

Most of us heard of quilting and not realized that it is a type of needlework.  In quilting a needle and thread is used to join at least three layersf fabric together forming a padded quilted material. 

Whatever type of quilt create (clothing, art quilt, wall hanging or a bedspread) the most colorful fabric is placed on the top.  Underneath the top layer of fabric is the batting sandwiched between the top layer and the backing material.  It is with a needle and thread that these three layers of fabric joined together forming various patterns.

QuiltingQuilting, Copyright: hayball / 123RF Stock Photo

Usually, a frame or hoop is used to hold the three layers of fabric together before stitching. If you don't have a hoop or frame to quilting, take a look at the Hoopless Hand Quilting video created by one of my favorite quilter, Sharon Schamber.  Jinny Beyer also has an excellent article on Hand Quilting Tips for those who wish to use a hoop or frame.   Mary Stori from ThreadsMagazine.com offers excellent help to those who want to perfect their hand quilting stitch.

Whether you hand stitch or use a machine for quilting, it is worth checking out both Art Quilt Element and Art Quilts on Pinterest to see the incredible artistic heights that quilting achieved.  Its hard not be be inspired looking at those quilts!


12. Tatting: The art of lace making.

Tatting has been around since at least the 19th c. and continues to be practiced to produce a form of stiffer lace that can be used for various projects.  Whether a needle, shuttle or a crochet hook is used, the lace is created by establishing different knots and loops with spaces in between the two to create a particular pattern.

Due to the incredible array of color threads available today, the number of decorative items that can be created with tatting is only limited by the imagination and experience of the tatter.

TattingTatting, Copyright: papicasso / 123RF Stock Photo

Sharon at Sharon's Tatted lace wrote and excellent article about the difference between  Needle Tatting or Shuttle Tatting which is worth reading. 

If you want to explore the mysteries of shuttle tatting take a look at How to Use a Tatting Shuttle and a video of Beginning Shuttle Tatting on Youtube.  

To learn about needle tatting and love to see video demonstrations rather than static images, take a look at Needle Tatting For Beginners.

For further exploration about Tatting check out Needle Tatting and Tatting Tutorials on Pinterest.  Want to join a group where you can post any question about Tatting?  Check out this great Reddit group and share images of your completed project.


Hope you are inspired to try any of these 12 types of needlework.  Share with your friends the love of needlework and try something new and surprise your friends with the beauty you have just created.


Like this article?  Subscribe to receive upcoming new articles.

> 12 Types of Needlework

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.