Needlepoint Hair and Beards

kathy schenkel pirate needlepoint stitched by needlepoint expert janet m perry, featuring dragonfly lotus threads

I don’t stitch many people, largely because I feel as if I’m at a loss from how to stitch hair and breads. I know there are books about this. God knows, I’ve written plenty of guides where I needed to think of ways to do this.

Even so, I’m perplexed. With Petie here (he’s Petie the Peg Leg Pirate) I had hair, a beard, and a mustache, all painted in one block of color.

I worked out a method that will, I think, be adaptable to many canvases.

First I analyzed the picture and figured out how to distinguish the hair from the beard. Because he has a hat, I could just have wisps of hair sticking out from under the hat. That meant I could just use Gobelin in various slants, just enough to cover the painting.

Besides distinguishing areas, the second key is layering. The areas need to be stitched so that the hair and mustache are on top of the beard, otherwise it will look unnatural.

That means stitching the beard first. You could pick many different stitches for this. Just make sure the area near the mustache will be flat. I decided on Encroached Gobelin. I started this stitch on the left, just under where the hair would be. I stitched a bit, then went back and put in the hair. Then I stitched a bit more. This row had to end to fit in the mustache, so I stopped short of the center and stitched a second row, which also stopped short. I continued with a third row that went all the way across.

Now I could go back and do the mustache. This too was done in Gobelin, slanting down and out. To make the mustache nicely thick, I layered the stitches.

The mustache was done on both sides. Then the beard was completed.

You can do this with many different threads, but, if possible, pick a thread that is wool and that is heathered, hand-dyed or tweeded. Because hair is rarely a flat color, this will look more realistic. Here I used Rainbow Gallery’s Designer’s Dream in a heathered gray.


  1. says

    The easiest way is to send me a form using the “contact” button in the masthead. But putting in a comment also works.

    Keep stitching,

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