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How to Do Tapestry Crochet With Free Patterns

I've been crocheting since I was a little girl. Since then I've designed for magazines and offer free patterns at my site.

This a piece that was crocheted in Guatemala to sell to tourists. I wouldn't be able to part with it.

This a piece that was crocheted in Guatemala to sell to tourists. I wouldn't be able to part with it.

What Is Different About Tapestry Crochet?

Tapestry crochet is a type of crochet where you use a base color of yarn and work in different designs with other colors. The completed project looks more like a woven piece than crochet. It is completed a little differently than other methods.

At one time, it was called hard crochet, color work, jacquard, or mosaic crochet. Tapestry crochet better fits the technique because you end up with a beautiful tapestry that looks like it was woven on a loom.

It can be completed with or without beads. The beads add a nice touch. You can use almost any type of yarn. Once you learn the method and create the designs, you can crochet almost anything with this technique. Purses and bags are popular.

The technique has been around for years, but contemporary artists like Carol Ventura boosted its popularity in the US. She found beautiful bags, hats, baskets, and other items while she served in the Peace Corps in Guatemala. This type of work is popular in many other countries as well.

How to Do Tapestry Crochet

Tapestry crochet is usually completed with single crochet stitches. Higher stitches are used on occasion to help form the design. It doesn't leave strands of yarn on the back of the work, so this is an advantage over other crochet techniques.

Crab Stitching (Stitching in Reverse)

You'll need to learn the crab stitch. The crab stitch is just doing the stitches in reverse.

  1. To start, you will just single crochet, but when you get to the end of the row, don't turn. Instead, work in reverse single crochet, also known as the crab stitch. To do a reverse single crochet, keep the work facing you at all times. At the end of the row, rather than turning the piece, work single crochets to the right rather than to the left as you would usually do.
  2. Then, when you start the next row, work to the right again. This is easy, as long as you remember to never turn your piece of work.
  3. Following a chart, you will make color changes by crocheting with the yarn behind the previous color used. You'll be crocheting with two strands of yarn at one time. This will form a heavy fabric with no strands showing on the back of the work.
  4. If the strands start winding around each other, you'll have to unwind them. Don't wait too long to do this, or it will become a bigger job.

What You Can Make

The heavy fabric works well for purses, baskets, and anything else that needs to be sturdy. You can even create beautiful wall hangings, purses, bowls, baskets, or rugs. Your finished piece will be a work of art.

Where to Find More Tutorials

Carol Ventura has also created several videos besides the one shown here that will teach you how to use beads with your work and many other advanced techniques.

Here is a variety of beautiful bags from Guatemala.

Here is a variety of beautiful bags from Guatemala.

Free Patterns From Around the Web

You can use many of the vintage Tunisian and filet crochet charts to design your own patterns. To find free patterns designed for tapestry crochet, just click on the links below.

Free Charts

These charts can all be used to create your own tapestry crochet designs.

  • Angels Crochet offers free chart patterns for 26 different designs. You can even print your own graph paper. Included at the site are two charts for cats, a panther, dinosaur, frogs, bats, angels, and more.
  • Shona's Place has so many graphs that you'll never get finished crocheting all that you'd like to do. She includes lots of dogs, cats, wolves, and too many more to name.
  • The Stylish Crochet Blog has several charts that are for filet crochet, but would work fine for tapestry too.

These three sites alone have so many graphs to choose from that you are sure to find just what you'd like to use.

Free Patterns

Find several free patterns at this site: Tapestry Crochet.

Design Your Own Pattern

If you've crocheted a few of these projects, you are on your way to designing your own. Use some graph paper to map out your own design. Start out simple, and then share the design with the world. There aren't many patterns available with this technique.


Cindy on August 18, 2018:

Do you know that knitters can use crochet charts? How cool is that?

Margarida Borges from Lyon, France on September 26, 2016:

I've never tried tapestry crochet because I thought it was a difficult technique to change colors all the time . I liked your explanation and I'm thinking of giving it a try. Thanks!

Cool Tapestries on July 12, 2016:

amazing, nicely done

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on March 08, 2015:

peachpurple, It is not hard to crochet. If you watch a few Youtube videos, you can learn. Thanks for viewing.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on March 08, 2015:

very unique design, i wish i know how to crochet

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on September 29, 2014:

kschimmel, Thanks for viewing the hub. This technique opens up an entire new world of crochet design.

Kimberly Schimmel from North Carolina, USA on September 28, 2014:

This is another great crochet technique--I love to play with color and the tapestry technique makes wonderfully sturdy purses.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on August 17, 2014:

DrBill, Thanks for viewing. I love the idea of tapestry crochet myself, since it reminds me of prehistoric art.

William Leverne Smith from Hollister, MO on August 17, 2014:

Thank you for an interesting and useful Hub! Love those two images at the top. What fun! ;-)

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on October 03, 2013:

moonlake, Thanks for viewing and voting up. Tapestry crochet is a beautiful art form.

moonlake from America on October 02, 2013:

I love the patterns. Thanks for sharing. Voted up.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on August 15, 2013:

RTalloni, It sounds like a good idea. Thanks.

RTalloni on August 14, 2013:

Thanks for this introduction to tapestry crochet. I am very much interested in learning to do letters, but can see that I need to give myself time to perfect the crab stitch and working with the two strand technique on small projects first.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on August 14, 2013:

Stephanie, The trick is to start with just two colors. Keeping the colors from twisting etc is supposed to be the hard part. I'd start with something small with 2 colors and work your way up. Thanks for commenting.

Stephanie Henkel from USA on August 14, 2013:

I've never tried tapestry crochet, but would love to do a pillow or afghan in a Southwest design using this method. The reverse crochet looks difficult though...probably some practice on a small item like a potholder would be a good start? Voted up and shared!

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on May 21, 2013:

Haddy J, It is hard to keep all of the colors apart. Starting one with just 2 colors would be easiest. Thanks for viewing and commenting.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on May 06, 2013:

teaches12345, Thanks for viewing the hub.

Dianna Mendez on May 05, 2013:

A very beautiful post. Tapestry is such a beautiful technique.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on April 25, 2013:

Alise-Evon, I better start with a small project then and without a lot of colors. Thanks for your input.

Alise- Evon on April 25, 2013:

Barbara Kay,

I do not think using the bottles would work for thread. You have to keep moving the balls of thread around to keep the individual threads lined up, having them in a bottle means you would just have to move the bottles around, and that would be a bigger job:) With yarn, though, it might be to your benefit to use them, especially if the skeins keep unraveling more than you want them to, making an even bigger mess:) You will still have to move them around, but it would be a lot more tidy, I'm thinking.

Have fun, be patient, especially if it's a large project. My bowl is beautiful, but it took hours and hours.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on April 24, 2013:

Alise-Evon, I am excited about this technique myself. I wonder if putting the yarn in 2 liter bottles wouldn't work for this? They cut the bottles in half and then place the yarn in and run it out of the hole on top. It might work, but I wonder if it will still tangle at the top. Thanks for reading the hub.

Alise- Evon on April 24, 2013:

Very interesting hub. I did one tapestry bowl in the round a few years ago because I wanted the challenge. It has a southwest pattern to it- circle in the middle with diamonds after that. I had to do it at the table because I was using 5 balls of thread simultaneously and it was just easier- you are so right about wanting to keep those threads untangled!

Love the kitty bag pattern you link to. I might try that sometime once I get my current projects done:)

Voted up and interesting.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on April 22, 2013:

Prasetio, Thanks for viewing and voting up. I think your Mom will like it.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on April 22, 2013:

Beautiful creation. I'll show this hub to my mom. Thanks for sharing with us. Voted up!


Barbara Badder (author) from USA on April 22, 2013:

Vickiw, Thanks. I want to crochet a purse using the technique. That way I am showing off my work at the same time. I hope you are able to finish your tapestry. Thanks for reading.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on April 22, 2013:

Audrey, If you know how to crochet, this is simple. Thanks for viewing.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on April 22, 2013:

fayhef, Thanks for reading the hub. I love the idea of tapestry crochet too, because you end up with a piece of art. Thanks for voting it up.

Vickiw on April 21, 2013:

I really enjoyed this Hub. I have never heard of tapestry crochet before, but now I want to make something - maybe a wall hanging! You have given great information here, and so comprehensive.

Audrey Howitt from California on April 21, 2013:

So interesting and looks pretty easy too!

Faythe Payne from USA on April 21, 2013:

Great hub..I love this and it is going on my must do this up and sharing