It's fair to say that any hobby that doesn't require any dedication isn't worth dedicating yourself to. Thankfully needlecraft's many forms, from cross stitch to tapestry, each require at least a little bit of investment, whether that be in learning new techniques or the time you put in to see your first project completed. They also require constant replenishment of your needlecraft supplies, to the point where it becomes notoriously hard to manage and organize all of it!

But with so many different brands, options and variations, how do you know that a certain piece of fabric is right for your embroidery, or that a flashy little gadget is a good purchase? In this entry of the Past Impressions blog, we've listed the most essential needlecraft supplies, explaining how to navigate through them and find the ones that will benefit your enjoyment and development as a budding crafter.


The type of needles used for the majority of counted thread embroidery styles are called 'tapestry needles', but they are actually used for cross stitch, long stitch and blackwork to name a few. They're characterised by a large eye and rounded tip, and are created in various thicknesses to match the counts of the fabric (more on that in a bit).

In the UK, the numbers used to organize these needles actually works in reverse, so the higher the number the smaller the needle! Most cross stitch kits include their own needles, but it's worth knowing the designations in case you lose it, or you're working from a chart downloaded from the web. Beading needles are slightly different, being slim with smaller eyes, and are great if you want to enhance or decorate your piece, or create something entirely out of beads.

Knitting needles, which are neither as small or sharp as sewing needles, are available in a variety of styles and sizes, and it's important to know which ones will match your style of knitting. For example, if you're quite new to knitting, you may prefer wooden needles (which are smooth but not slippery) that are square shaped and require less hand tension. There's a fantastic Wiki How guide that explains all the differences between knitting needles.


  image of Blue Spot Vinyl Crafters Bag

Ah! The bane of every crafter! Thankfully the abundance of different boxes, bags and organisers means no matter how much you accumulate everytime you leave the haberdashery, you'll have the perfect way to keep the mess manageable (at least in theory...).

Some of these storage needlecraft supplies go beyond just the need to maintain a sense of organisation. Craft bags, for example work not just as a way to store and transport your crafty belongings; they become an accessory to your artsy persona, being every bit as practical as a handbag or purse, but with arguably more exciting contents!

Within the walls of every sewing room, there's plenty of ways to keep all your needlecraft supplies in good, workable order. Whether it's a little Button Tin in which to tuck away your needles, cotton or sequins, or a luxurious Wooden Box for storing thread, all are great for ensuring the cluttered nature of a creative spirit doesn't interfere with your creativity!



The amount of threads available for cross stitching, tapestry and other forms of counted embroidery is astounding. For those that are new to this type of needlecraft, the one you'll probably be using the most is stranded cotton. Those who've moved on in skill since their first project may already be familiar with the likes of linen threads, rayons and even metallic threads.

Most pre-packaged cross stitch kit will include all the required threads, but when choosing your own you'll want to ensure the colour of your background fabric matches the thread colour. Each length of thread is referred to as a 'skein', and most 14 or 16 count Aida projects will generally use two strands of cotton. We always recommend trying out a different fabric on a separate scrap of fabric to see if it will achieve the desired effect.


Whilst in the past fabric was a simple choice of linen or 14-count aida, now it's expanded so it can conveniently confuse new stitchers! There's lots of other fabric choices, but in your search for needlecraft supplies, these will be the most common.

Aida is the most commonly used; it's a cotton fabric that's woven in blocks, where the holes for the needle to enter are made nice and visible. Aida is available in 8, 11, 14, 16, 18 and 20 blocks (or counts), all of which are determined by the number of blocks to each inch. Evenweave linen is the other major choice of fabric - it's not any more complicated than Aida, but it requires a different technique, and is slightly more expensive.

Tapestry and needlepoint canvasses, whilst also using a count system, are different to Aida and Evenweave in that they are pre-printed, with each colour carefully graphed so the needlecrafter can know which stitch goes where.


   chart marker

Lastly, the needlecrafting industry is full of little and large tools that provide a huge helping hand with any project. These might include magnifying lamps that allow you to see more of your work, specially shaped embroidery scissors that are made exclusively for needlecrafting, and Magnetic Pattern Chart Marker Sets help prevent you from losing your place on charts and patterns. Once you've had a bit of trial and error with different forms of needlecraft, these accessories can help you overcome some of the bigger difficulties and frustrations, and seamlessly improve your skill.

For future needlecraft guides, keep an eye on the Past Impressions Facebook page, Twitter and Google+, and don't forget to stop by our own ever thriving cross stitch community!


Post By Graham Ashton