Tent stitch is a small, diagonal embroidery stitch that crosses over the intersection of one horizontal and one vertical thread of needlepoint canvas forming a slanted stitch at a 45 degree angle. It is also known as Petit point and Needlepoint stitch and is one of the most basic and versatile stitches used in Needlepoint and other Canvas work embroidery.
"Petit point" comes from the French language, meaning “small point”.
Tent stitch variants
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
and half cross
- 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 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. The illustration at right is NOT correct. It shows continental stitch on the odd numbered rows and half cross on the even numbered rows. When stitched this way, the result is a ridged effect on the front of the stitching, called the corduroy effect.
- 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. The illustration at right is NOT correct. It shows half cross on the odd numbered rows and continental on the even numbered rows. When stitched this way, the result is a ridged effect on the front of the stitching, called the corduroy effect.