Friday, March 11, 2016

Cross stitch vs. Petit point

Gitta's Skating Buddies in cross stitch
Skating Buddies in petit point
Cross Stitch

                 Petit Point

What is Petit Point? is a question I get asked quite often.  Probably, because when stitchers come into the shop to purchase 25ct Lugana, I question if it is for a Heaven and Earth design.  Once affirmed, I usually ask "Why not petit point it, instead of cross stitching?"  What's the difference? is then the usual response.

Petit point is stitched using the Continental or Tent Stitch.  This is an angled stitch that is often mistakenly described as a Half Cross stitch.  The Half Cross may look like the Continental stitch on the front, in that they are both angled up to the right, but on the back they are noticeably different.  The Continental stitch is angled and the Cross stitch is vertical.  For full stitch instructions please visit Free Stuff on  Gitta's website.  In this blog I want to talk about the differences between these two stitches and why all Petit Point designs can also be cross stitched, but not all Cross stitch designs, in my opinion, can be petit pointed.

An ideal pattern to petit point is composed of only full stitches.  A continental stitch cannot be split, and thus a cross stitch pattern that has many 1/4 stitches and backstitches would be next to impossible to petit point.  When two 1/4 stitches fill one square on a cross stitch chart, each represents a different thread colour.  When petit pointing such a design, only one of these thread colours can be choosen.  You can appreciate that if too many of these decisions have to be made the finished design will be altered.
Cross stitch patterns also rely on backstitches to define the design.  It's not until the backstitches are complete that the design comes to life.  In contrast petit point designs rely on the subtle changes in colour to create depth and definition within the design.

Gitta's  Spray of Violets in petit point

Gitta's Spray of Violets cross stitched on 32ct.hand-dyed linen
With Petit Point, the stitches completely cover the silk gauze or canvas.  In contrast, with cross stitch the stitches do not completely cover the fabric and the fabric colour peeks through the stitches.
The resulting difference is that the same threads will appear richer when petit pointed.

Another noticeable difference is that a design will generally be smaller when petit pointed.  This obviously is determined by the fabric count.  Although the continental stitch can be worked on many different canvas counts the most common  is  22ct. canvas or 23ct. silk gauze.  Whereas the most common count for cross stitch is 14 stitches/inch.  The fewer the stitches per inch the larger the finished design size will be.

If you have never stitched a petit point, and want to give it a try, Gitta's has many small designs, mostly florals, available on our website.  If petit point is not for you, don't discount Gitta's designs.  They also look great cross stitched, and they have no 1/4 stitches and no backstitches.