Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Needlepoint and Embroidery

The art of decorating fabrics has greatly evolved over time, which has led to the creation of different methods used in fabric decoration. The methods available are endless and will depend on the effect that a person wants to create. Some of the methods used are needlepoint and embroidery. 


What is Needlepoint?

This is a surface embroidery technique that is used in very fine canvas. It is mostly used to create purses, rugs, wall hangings and upholstery. In most instances, the yarn is used. However, strands of embroidery floss may be used so as to achieve a unique look. Since it is worked on very fine canvas, it is done by hand. Canvas types used include Penelope, mono, and interlock. 


What is Embroidery?

Embroidery is the art of decorating materials by use of a thread and a needle. It can either be done by use of a machine or hand. 

  • What is Machine Embroidery?

Because of the need for mass production, embroidery machines have become popular. It basically involves the creation of a design by use of computer software, which is then installed on the machine. It is mostly used by parties that want logos and other details printed on the materials. Embroidery machines are not only available commercially, but are also available for personal embroidery, involving machines which can be used at home. Fabrics commonly used are wool, polyester, and cotton, and is commonly ideal for printing tote bags, t-shirts, jackets and mats, just to mention a few. 

  • What is Hand Embroidery?

This is the art of creating designs by use of a thread and a needle. This method is flexible as it allows a person to select multiple fabrics, threads, and stitches. It is unique and reflects the creativeness of the designer, while also allowing mobility. 

It is commonly used on canvas, cotton and felt, as it can be used on more delicate fabrics.  


Similarities between Needlepoint and Embroidery

  • Both provide flexible options for decorating fabrics
  • Both are used in fabric decoration 


Differences between Needlepoint and Embroidery

  1. Design Creation

While needlepoint designs are created with tapestry wool which is stitched on a mesh canvas, embroidery uses floss to create a picture or a design.

  1. Pre-design painting

While the canvas used in needlepoint may either be pre-printed or pained with the preferred design or remain blank, embroidery involves pre-printed the desired design and stitching over the lines, hence filling the spaces.   

  1. Fabric used

The most commonly used fabric in needlepoint is open weave canvas while embroidery uses fabrics such as satin, silk, cotton, Aida, and velvet. 

  1. Technique involved in needlepoint and embroidery

While the concept used in needlepoint is stitching over the design area and covering it with yarn or thread, embroidery involves stitching over the lines and filling in the shapes. 

  1. Mode of stitching

While needlepoint is stitched by hand, embroidery can either be done by hand or machinery. 

Needlepoint vs. Embroidery: Comparison Table


Summary of Needlepoint vs. Embroidery

The choice between needlepoint and embroidery depends on a person’s expertise, preference, and the preferred results. Both these methods are effective in fabric decoration and provide an avenue to creatively create different designs. 


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  1. Thanks for the article. As a general note, although you are correct that needlepoint is a form of embroidery, one of the most characteristic differences is that needlepoint involves multiple types though rarely multiple layers of stitches. Thank you very much for your introductory chart, and I would recommend looking at the article cited above for a more detailed and nuanced explanation of the differences between needlepoint and embroidery.

    (I apologize, and hope you laugh and the pretentiousness of the above – thanks for your article! Happy embroi-… needlepointing!)

  2. The new way to embroidery is hot, creative, and relaxing to find some focus in an old art. In punch needle sticking, it takes less time to design artful embroidery stitching. Excellent for those stuck at home during the Covid 19 Pandemic!

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References :

[0]Thomas Mary. Mary Thomas's Embroidery Book- Dover Embroidery, Needlepoint. Courier Corporation Publishers, 1983.  https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=WlWx3cNt3aUC&printsec=frontcover&dq=difference+between+needlepoint+and+embroidery&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwitq9bl-q7fAhWEzYUKHZqSB5wQ6AEINDAC#v=onepage&q=difference%20between%20needlepoint%20and%20embroidery&f=false

[1]Lewis Foreman Day. Art in Needlework. Lulu.com Publishers, 2008.  https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=kdnrAgAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=difference+between+needlepoint+and+embroidery&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwitq9bl-q7fAhWEzYUKHZqSB5wQ6AEIOjAD#v=onepage&q&f=false

[2]Nichols Marion. Encyclopedia of Embroidery Stitches, Including Crewel- Dover Embroidery, Needlepoint. Courier Corporation Publishers, 2012.  https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=UZy8AQAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=difference+between+needlepoint+and+embroidery&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwitq9bl-q7fAhWEzYUKHZqSB5wQ6AEIRTAF#v=onepage&q=difference%20between%20needlepoint%20and%20embroidery&f=false

[3]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Needlepoint_(Unsplash_fL5xqqoUVF0).jpg

[4]Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/embroidered-embroidery-sewing-2338005/

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