How to Adapt Needlepoint – Step 4

Step 4 – Setting Goals for the Project

I try to set one or two goals that I want to accomplish while working on each rug. This helps me focus on one or two specific aspects of a piece so that I can learn more about each rug as I work on it. As a rule these goals come to me while I’m studying a rug, before I start analyzing motifs or start my practice stitching. I’m now getting ready to stitch my third rug. Here are the goals for each of them:

The red Zemmour rug

Adapt a few simple motifs to needlepoint

Arrange them in an order that will give the look of a real Zemmour rug


Results – I am able to adapt these motifs without doing weeks of practice stitching. It comes to me easily and the result of this first rug was pleasing to the eye, had the correct colors for the type rug I was stitching, and also has the feel of an authentic Berber rug. So far, so good.

The blue Middle Atlas Rug

Design and stitch a blue and brown rug for our bedroom that we will enjoy looking at every day for years to come (sometimes motivation is a good thing)

Create more complicated motifs using needlepoint stitches that others can recreate


Results – The colors were perfect for our home and I got wonderful comments from many, many people. Several motif bands were quite complicated and required a lot of practice stitching to get them to look correct. One motif was dropped because it was so complicated and just couldn’t be adapted to my satisfaction. I don’t want my designs to be so complicated that other stitchers can’t use my designs. This was an important step for me. I’ve always loved designs and rooms that have understated elegance. I need to keep this in mind as I design other projects.

The Anti Atlas Rug

Create a better way to add motifs on top of a stitched area. I’ll work on this with the basketweave squares

Use 3 separate color schemes that can work together to create an authentic looking rug from the area.

(Another unspoken goal was to use only what I already had on hand – canvas and thread)


Results – The first goal was not met. I was very disappointed with this part of the rug. The long stitches in the stitched on motifs continued to slide and shift long after I finished a section and started on another one. Also getting the motifs stitched at all was difficult. Over all, the design of the rug, the layout, and colors used were good. I learned a lot of new motifs in this one and will use some of them in later projects. (And I only had to buy one skein of floss to complete the orange section. All the other threads and the canvas were found in my stash.)

High Atlas Rug

Design a needlepoint rug that looks more like a woven rug – this will influence my stitch choices

Design motifs that can be “woven” into the rug as I stitch – this could prove interesting and fun


As I continue to work on all thing Moroccan, I’m trying to stretch my knowledge and my needlepoint adaptation skills. And in the back of my mind, a solution to top-stitching motifs onto a stitched background is always rolling around. I should also note that I don’t write these down, but they are always there when I plan and stitch on my rugs.


If there are any other designers reading along, do you set goals for your projects? I would love to hear about it!


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6 responses to “How to Adapt Needlepoint – Step 4

  1. It’s about time you made a post. Now I want to see some stitching. I love watching you. As a designer, I just try hard (the challenge) to make the image I see in my head come alive on canvas- working it out is the fun part. With painted canvas, my goals are different – not organized like yours, but the challenge of converting a round plate to a square pillow, if I think that’s what needs to be done. I have to do this without losing the character or the design elements in the original. (this is adapting from ceramic patterns) Of course as a commercial designer for reproduction of painted canvases, the main goal is to produce something that is beautiful in color and easy and relaxing to stitch. (via the well drawn canvas)

  2. Jan, I didn’t realize, probably because I wasn’t paying close enough attention, that you were not happy with the stitches you were putting on top of basketweave squares. You may want to try something that Joan Thomasson does when she puts blackwork on top of tent stitches for clothing for one of her angels–she reduces the number of plies in the tent stitch layer and uses a sharp needle to get through the tent stitches with the top layer of blackwork.

    I’m not sure if this will help ou but it is something to keep in mind.

  3. For the stitches over the basketweave, you could try couching the threads down, either with the same thread or a finer thread. The look might be a little different than the original, but if you play with it a little, you might find something you like…

  4. Thank you Jane and Laura. I’ll keep your suggestions in mind as I continue to learn about all these Berber rugs. Eventually, I’ll find the best solution to the problem. I keep trying new ways and won’t stop working on it until I find one that satisfies me. On to my practice stitching for the new rug.

  5. I don’t set many goals. I have occasionally done the “use what I have onhand” thing, but not for anything I plan to be commercial. I do set time goals frequently – have to finish by a certain time. I should probably be more structured in my approach!
    For your overstitching, you might try a whipped back stitch. This stitch gives a nice firm line and, with practice, can do curves pretty well. And I agree with Jane about using fewer strands for the basketweave.

  6. Hi Jan,

    When I’ve designed in the past, purely for my own use, I’m trying to get an image/pattern onto the canvas. My goal is to create something that I like and want to stitch.

    Since I don’t this professionally I don’t have to worry about whether or not it would appeal to anyone else, or about deadlines or materials, etc. 🙂

    Since I’m an analyst/computer professional in my career life, I do have a tendency to analyze everything. So for my stitching I try not to over analyze. Lol!

    Cynthia
    Windy Meadow

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