Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tips & Techniques - Tent Stitching

When I started joining a bunch of cross stitch groups on Facebook I saw people talking about whether they should do regular cross stitch or tent stitch their massive pieces from HAED and Mystic Stitch.  I myself wasn't familiar with "tent stitching" so I went to the internet and looked it up.  Needless to say I was a little shocked to find out it's just a half-stitch or what is also called a continental stitch in needlepoint.  Since needlepoint was the first type of stitching I learned, I most definitely knew what that was.

However, after doing a little more research, I guess there IS a difference between the stitches and the difference is how they appear on the back of the fabric or canvas.  I found this description of them through Wikipedia:

There are three types of tent stitch, all producing the same appearance on the front of the canvas but each worked in a slightly different way and having particular characteristics, uses, benefits and drawbacks. These variants of tent stitch are known as basketweave, continental and half cross tent stitches[1]:
  • Basketweave tent stitch
    The basketweave form of tent stitch is worked in diagonal rows up and down the canvas. The yarn on the back of the canvas has a typical basketweave Here appearance, with alternating horizontal and vertical stitches. Basketweave is the best stitch to use for covering large areas of canvas as it does not distort the canvas as the other two forms of tent stitch do.
  • Continental tent stitch
    Continental stitch is worked horizontally or vertically across the canvas. On the back of the work, the stitches appear diagonally across two threads. This method uses more yarn than half cross stitch tent stitch but is more hardwearing.
  • Half cross tent stitch
    Half cross stitch is worked horizontally or vertically across the canvas. On the back of the work, the stitch appears vertical or horizontal, not diagonal, and crosses only one thread. This method uses less yarn than other stitches but is not very durable as coverage on the back of the canvas is a little thin.
One of the other benefits, and I think the main one that people consider when doing the extra large size projects, is time savings.  You can cut your stitching time in half because you're only doing half the stitches compared to a full cross stitch.

If you are going to be tent stitching a piece, I have found I typically use more strands of floss than in a regular full cross stitch so that you get the fabric coverage.  I recommend doing a test patch in a corner of your "border" area or on another small swatch of fabric to see how many strands YOU like best for the count of fabric you're working on.

Here's a close-up picture of a piece I did using the half cross tent stitch using a #12 Kreinik metallic braid on 14-count fabric:


  1. I also learned the continental tent stitch in needlepoint, and I plan to use that for my HAED instead of the half cross, so I have better coverage across the back. Thanks for sharing the explanation.

    1. You're welcome Debbie. I'm glad people are finding my T&T posts helpful. :)

  2. Thank you for posting a picture of the half cross tent stitch in action! I have not started any really large scale projects like a HAED yet, but I can understand why some stitchers would want to save time by not using full crosses. I think I will stick with the full crosses for now because I know I would get straight up lost doing the basketweave stitch :)


    1. Your welcome Shaunterria! I'm always happy when I see people are getting something useful out of my blog posts.

      I'm also following your blog now. Lots of neat stuff there. :)