Sunday, October 14, 2012

Slanted Gobelin Borders

How much thought have you given to how you execute Slanted Gobelin borders?  Here is a picture of such a border:

Here is a stitch diagram of how I am stitching the border as I approach a corner:

Many people will continue stitching as shown in the diagram below.  If the stitching began by stitching from the outside of the border to the inside of the border, once the corner is turned the stitching will continue in this manner (outside to inside):

Let’s look at a picture of the front and back of the canvas for this border:

Do you see why this is incorrect?  The slant of the stitches on the back of the canvas changes after the corner is turned.

Another way to think about this is if you reduced the width of the Slanted Gobelin Stitches, shown above as over 3 canvas intersections, to just over 1 canvas intersection you’d have a Tent Stitch Border.  Here is a picture of tent stitches stitched just the same way as the Slanted Gobelin Border above, from the outside of the border to the inside of the border.

Most needlepointers know that this change from continental to half cross stitch is incorrect and will not stitch this way.  And yet, when they lengthen that tent stitch to over 2 intersections or more, they will happily stitch away in this manner.  Remember that how the thread lies on the back of the canvas affects how it looks on the front of the canvas.

What is the correct way to stitch a Slanted Gobelin Border?  All threads on the back of the canvas need to have the same slant.  This means that if you are stitching vertically and the stitches travel from the outside of the border to the inside of the border, you will need to change the direction of your stitching after you make the turn (need a tacking stitch to change direction) so that you are stitching from the inside of the border to the outside of the border.  Here is a diagram of what I am saying:

And here is a picture of the front side of the canvas and the back side of the canvas:

When you are stitching a Slanted Gobelin Border, think of it as a long tent stitch, and you want that tent stitch to be in the continental style, not the half cross style of stitching.  If you think about it this way, then you will be able to adjust for any direction of travel that you may need, eg. horizontally left to right, horizontally right to left, vertically top to bottom or vertically bottom to top.


  1. Aha! So that's how to fix that problem! That drives me nuts when I do gobelin borders, but I could never come up with a good solution.

    Thank you!

  2. Honest question - I prefer to come out of a 'clean' hole and go into a 'dirty' hole. Your first stitch order does this; however your second does not. Which is more important - the back thread direction or the pushing of the threads into the back of the canvas rather than pulling them to the front of the canvas re clean vs dirty hole?
    (Disclaimer - I actually stitch from the top right of my canvas to the bottom left using many (20-30) needles through the course of the canvas to maintain clean/dirty hole usage.)

  3. You can maintain the slant of the stitch and begin the stitch on the outside of the border for all stitches, here's how in my example:
    Stitch the vertical side from top to bottom, this is the left side of the border. At the bottom stop the thread. Travel horizontally from right to left (in the example I used I was traveling from left to right), this means you will have to start on the far right side of the canvas. You will be starting the stitch on the outside of the border thus maintaining your coming up in a clean hole.

    Your desire to only come up in a clean hole is fine, and you go to extreme lengths to do this. It is just that most people will not go to those same lengths.

    As for which is more important - it is really stitch and thread dependent. I would advise consistency as the best solution.