DIY Needlepoint VI: Improving your design


Disclaimer: This tutorial series is intended for educational purposes only and is aimed at needlepoint hobbyists. If you make use of any information presented in this series, please do not infringe on any copyrights.

So I’m plugging away this morning with my vectored images (see previous post) that I want to place in the four quadrants of my coat of arms.

But first I decided to give the entire shield an arrowhead and borders, just like the original shield on Miler McGrath’s tomb.  This way I’ll have a custom-made escutcheon, instead of the one I got off the Web.

Next I moved my vectored images (the Axe, and the Rearing Antelope) in their proper locations. I did this by creating layers, and using the Move tool in Gimp.

Then I decided to take a look at the result by bringing it into Inkscape.

Another nice thing about this freely downloadable tool is that you can change the grid layout of your image.

This will simulate how your design will look on a piece of canvas.

It’s pretty simple to do.

Here’s how:

Inkscape is an XML application, which makes things pretty easy

What you see on the screen is a document, and you can change its properties

the size of the grid is one of the properties, which is what you want to change in this case

to get the document properties hit (Shift+ Ctrl + D )

select “Guides” tab

change the grid unit to inches

changed spacing to 0.0008 for both X and Y axis

this will result in an approximation of a 12 mesh grid, which is a good working model


These mesh size calculations can actually get quite complex.  Remember what we’re doing here:  Florida-style, seat-of-your bathing suit relaxo DIY needlepoint design tutorial, as opposed to getting all intense with your engineer Dad’s old slide rule and propeller hat.

But if you want to get into the math of it all, Star, a talented and highly educated (PhD in Art History) blogger who is based in Italy, has a mind-bending but really useful tutorial on the subject that you can find here.


Here’s the result so far:

Shield with Grid

Shield with Grid

( I used the snipping tool, because WP wont support the SVG format, so, again you are looking at a vectorized image in raster form)

Not bad, but the shield still need some work.  It won’t take long to finish this.    By the way, you can click on it to see a larger size version of this image.  Notice no pixelation!

Time to Do This:

Entirely up to you, as to how long you want to fiddle with your design, but I would not say more than 1 hour, otherwise you may get diminishing returns.

At this point, I think it’s becoming clear that if you have a design template — such as the coat of arms shield that we’re using in this tutorial — you can then easily use software to drop in different designs elements or ornaments to make slightly different versions of the same basic design. This way you can design an image to be repeatable with small variants, thus easily fleshing out your entire “line”!

Next Step:  Finishing your reworked design.

Erin McGrath and, 2012 – 2016.


About Erin

Owner of Needlepoint Land, LLC. Professional in the field for more than 15 years, during which I have managed and/or worked with various high-end needlepoint shops. I enjoy teaching both beginners and advanced stitchers, and have created numerous stitch guides, with speciality thread selections, for in-store customers and private clients. I maintain contact with an extensive network of needlepoint vendors, custom artists, and, most importantly, reliable, high-quality finishers. I look forward to hearing your comments on my blog!

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