Needlepoint vs Cross Stitch – What’s The Difference?

Embroidery has become an integral part of decking up different fabrics. It is not rocket science or a complicated art form, with a little practice, you can get the hang of this amazing embellishing stitching method.

It is a form of needle art that is stitched into a fabric with the help of needle and stitch.

There are different forms of stitching that are used in making the beautiful embroideries.

If you are interested in needle art, there is a lot you can learn daily. The first thing that you need to master is the different stitching types, like a needlepoint and cross-stitch. These two most popular types are often closely related.

Needlepoint vs Cross Stitch

Needlepoint is an embroidery form that is done with wool on an open stiff weave canvas better known as Mono Canvas.

Cross stitch, on the other hand, is also an embroidery form which is done on an open and weave canvas known as Aida.

It is not only the difference of canvas that sets them apart, but there are also plenty of differences in terms of fabric, design, stitches, etc.,

Differences Between Needlepoint and Cross Stitch

As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of things that set both of these embroidery methods apart from each other. Let’s look at a few parameters that draw a line difference between cross stitch and needlepoint embroidery.

1. Fabric

Fabric is the most essential part of embroidery. You need to choose your fabric wisely that will perfectly enhance your design. Needlepoint is made on a stiff canvas known as Mono Canvas.

They are sturdy and durable, and the stitches of needlepoint are strong as well. So, it is essential to choose a fabric that is long-lasting and able to withstand wear and tear.

For instance, handbags, key fobs, pillows, bookmarks are perfect for needlepoints.

Cross stitches, on the other hand, are done on Aida, which requires lighter and softer materials like cotton, linen. Cross stitches are inserted in the hoop to maintain the pressure of the stitching.

The cross stitch has to be delicate and requires a delicate fabric. Generally, this type of embroidery is done on scarfs, handkerchief, and cotton apparels, where your embroidery can be well highlighted.

2. Design

If you are into embroidery, you would know how expensive it can be to maintain your hobby. When you buy an embroidery kit, the canvas is the most costly part of it. Needlepoint canvas is expensive because they are hand-painted.

Needlepoint canvas cam is designed in two ways, either hand-painted or stitch painted. Stitch painted canvas is easy to use as the designer has already left your intersection to fill in. Hand-painted involves a lot of shading that makes the embroidery a tad bit difficult.

When talking about the cross-stitch canvas, they are made up of printed paper, and you need to start from the middle of the fabric and count the stitches in each direction.

Cross stitch canvas is the traditional embroider canvas that people have been using for a long time now. When making cross-stitch embroidery, make sure that your stitches are equal on both sides on the canvas, only then you will be able to get the perfect design.

3. Stitches

One of the major differentiators that sets both of this embroidery method apart is the stitching method.

The classic method of needlepoint stitching is known as the tents or continental, which is diagonally stitched from the bottom to the top right corner of the canvas. All the needlepoint stitches have a base, i.e., diagonal stitch.

As the name suggests, the cross stitch is an intersection stitch with making X patterns on the fabric. Due to the need for X patterns, the canvas for the cross stitch is majorly in a square shape to maintain the stitching pattern.

Another critical thing to note is that needlepoint can be incorporated into a cross-stitch, but cross stitch cannot be added into a needlepoint stitch.

4. Thread

Threads are the integral part of embroidery without which you cannot stitch. The thread decides how beautiful your embroidery will come out as.

For cross-stitch, a DMC embroidery floss can be used. This embroidery floss is easily available at craft shops and online stores.

For needlepoint, you have a wide range of threads such as cotton, wools, silk, and other decorative threads as well.

These are speciality threads and are only used for the needlepoint stitching only. Such threads are available at the local needlepoint shops or online stores.

Make sure to choose the right thread according to the stitching preference. You can also refer to the stitching guides to get more information on the type of threads.

7 Types of Needlepoint Stitches

Needlepoint is majorly used for decorative purposes, and there are different types of stitches that are used to make that designs:

Continental Stitch: It is a horizontally and vertically done stitch on a sturdier fabric.

Basketweave Stitch: This type of stitch is used on large areas and created in diagonal rows.

Half Cross-Tent Stitch: it is worked vertically and horizontally all across the fabric.

Cushion Stitch: It is created with five diagonal stitches, and the longest stitch is done in the middle.

Mosaic Stitches: It has three stitches, where the length is between the shorter ones.

Gobelin Stitches: It comprises a slanting diagonal stitch which is made between the two horizontal and one vertical thread.

Parisian Stitch: It is similar to the basketweave stitch but with shorter and parallel stitches.

2 Types of Cross Stitches

It is a type of embroidery where an X shaped pattern is created. You can use embroidery floss to make them. There are basically two broad types of stitches-:

Partial Stitches: This type of stitch is used for texture and shaping process. It will create a protective shield for the stitch.

Back Stitches: One of the popular cross stitches that is used for creating small details on the fabric. You can also use a backstitch in the needlepoint as well if you use a sturdier material.

Which Is An Easier Needlepoint Or Cross-Stitch?

If you are using the hand-painted canvas for your needlepoint stitching, things can become a way easier for you. But, in terms of the complexity, cross stitch is hands-down the most challenging embroidery stitching to manoeuvre. It depends on the expert level of a person to determine the complexity of a stitch. Sometimes a professional may not be able to get the needlepoint and other times a beginner can make a brilliant cross stitch.

Can Cross Stitch Patterns Be Used For Needlepoint?

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, often these stitches are closely related and help each other at some point. Needlepoint can be incorporated into a cross-stitch, but cross stitch cannot be added into a needlepoint stitch. There’s a common feature in both is the usage of backstitching. It is used to make detailed designs and create marvellous patterns.

Can Aida Be Used For Needlepoint Stitching?

You can do a needlepoint stitching on woven fabric with Aida. All you need to do is pick a complex weave, instead of linen which is meant for the Mono Canvas. Make use of the half cross stitch to do the needlepoint.


Embroidery has long been a hobby and the perfect artistic way to unwind. Both the cross and needlepoint have been used since the ancient days of embroidery.

Though cross stitch is the oldest, needlepoint also holds a legacy. In terms of the appeal, cross stitch is more dominant and more, and for the complexity level, needlepoint will be easier for the beginner.

You can use both the methods to create beautiful and enticing designs on fabric.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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