Difference Between Needlepoint and Embroidery

Embroidery has always been used by humans to make things look beautiful. It is an art of decorating fabrics using needles and threads. It is believed to be originated in the Orient and the Middle East.

There are various types of embroideries famous for their making process and patterns. Needlepoint and embroidery are the types that are often confused and this is because of the fact that needlepoint is misunderstood. 

Needlepoint vs Embroidery

The difference between needlepoint and embroidery is that needlepoint is a type of embroidery done on the surface of the square by square knitted fabrics using yarn or wool and unlike other embodies it is done only by hand. Embroidery is a term used to refer to the various techniques of decorating various types of fabrics using threads, beads, pearls, patches, etc, embroidery is done either by hand or by machine. 

Needlepoint vs Embroidery

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonNeedlepointEmbroidery
What it refers to?The term needlepoint is used to refer to a type of embroidery in which the embroidery is done on the surface of the square by square knitted fabric. Embroidery refers to the technique of decorating and designing fabrics using different kinds of threads, beads and other decorative materials. 
Method involvedIn the needlepoint technique, a pattern is first printed or marked using pins on the fabric and then it is covered using wool or thread.  Embroidery involves printing the required design on the fabric then stitching on the lines and filling spaces according to the printed or the desired design. 
Types of stitches usedThe most common type of stitches used in needlepoint embroidery is tent stitch using yarn or tapestry wool.Embroidery uses various kinds of stitches for design making such as chain stitch, running stitch, blanket stitch, cross stitch, etc and can be done using any type of thread.
Types of fabric used and mode of stitchingIn needlepoint embroidery, square by square knitted and the stiff fabric is used such as canvas and plastic canvas is specially designed for needlepoint embroidery. Needlepoint embroidery can only be done by hand. Embroidery can be done on any kind of fabric including silk, cotton, satin, velvet, etc. Needlepoint embroidery is either done by hands or by machine.
Used in Needlepoint embroidery is mainly done on fabric but is also used in the creation of bags, carpets, wall hangings, rugs, furniture, etc.Embroidery is used to decorate fabrics, bags, cushion covers, etc.

What is Needlepoint?

Needlepoint is a kind of embroidery or canvas work that is done on the surface of the fabric. In this technique, a pattern is printed or marked using pins on the fabric and then stitches are done on that design.

The first written appearance of the term needlepoint was made in 1869.

Needlepoint embroidery dates back to the thousands of years during the times of ancient Egyptian when they used this embroidery to stitch their canvas tents using slant stitches.

One of the greatest discoverers of all times Howard Carter also found evidence of needlepoint embroidery in the caves of Pharaoh.

The current form of this embroidery became popular when in 18th century America it was taught to young women so that they can stitch their clothes themselves.

Needlepoint is done only on fabrics that have square by square knitting such as canvas and on specially designed plastic canvas. The most used stitches in needlepoint are tent stitches. 

Needlepoint embroidery is done only by hand with the purpose of making things beautiful. It is used in the making of bags, carpets, rugs, furniture, wall hangings, etc.


What is Embroidery?

Embroidery is the art of decorating fabrics and other materials using threads and other decorative materials. A pattern is first printed on the fabric and then stitching on the design and also filling spaces when required. 

The earliest evidence of embroidery was found in China which dates back to the 5th and 3rd centuries. The Ancient Greek mythology credits goddess Athena for the art of embroidery.

The current forms of embroidery developed during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar

Embroidery is done on different types of fabrics such as silk, cotton, satin, etc. Embroidery uses various stitches such as cross stitch, running stitch, chain stitch, etc.

There are different types of embroideries, some of them are counted thread embroidery, needlepoint, cutwork, whitework, Hardanger embroidery, etc. 

Embroidery can be done either by hand or by machine. The first embroidery machine was invented in 1832 by Josue Heilmann. It is done to decorate fabrics and bags. 


Main Differences Between Needlepoint and Embroidery 

  1. Needlepoint is a specific type of embroidery whereas embroidery is a broader class of decorative techniques.
  2. Needlepoint is a type of embroidery done on the surface of fabric whereas embroidery is a technique for decorating fabrics. 
  3. The first in needlepoint embroidery is either printing design on the fabric or marking the design through pins and then stitching over that design whereas in embroidery design is printed on the fabric and then stitching done on lines and also filling spaces wherever required.
  4. In Needlepoint embroidery, one has to do the stitching only on the pre-designed pattern whereas embroidery can be done freehand.
  5. Needlepoint is done on square by square knitted fabrics and specially designed plastic canvas whereas embroidery can be done on any kind of fabric including cotton, silk, velvet, satin, etc. 
  6. Needlepoint is done using yarn or tapestry wool whereas embroidery can be done with any kind of thread and beads.
  7. Tent stitches are used in needlepoint embroidery while in embroidery various types of stitches are used.
  8. Needlepoint embroidery can be done only by hands whereas embroidery can be done either by hands or by machines. 
  9. Needlepoint embroidery is widely used in making rugs, mats, wall hangings, carpets, furniture, etc whereas embroidery is done to decorate fabrics, bags, cushions and sometimes female mules.
Difference Between Needlepoint and Embroidery


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=9q02DwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA22&dq=needlepoint+and+embroidery&ots=nj5FBdLKzQ&sig=RU7-FXpXAB57E_Ndo0S2YIyETLU
  2. https://osf.io/preprints/inarxiv/a56bu/
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