Perforated Paper Techniques

Perforated paper is coming back into vogue after roughly a century of oblivion.

Right and Wrong Side

Just like a needle, perforated paper has a right and a wrong side because, just like a needle, the holes are punched in. Imagine sending a needle through a piece of ordinary paper. The side where the pencil went in would be smooth; the side where it came out would be jagged. Perforated paper is the same way.

To tell the right from the wrong side, rub the 4th finger of the non-needle hand on both sides of the paper. Does one side feel rougher? This is the wrong side. If you can't feel any roughness, rub the paper across your upper lip. Still can't tell the difference? Don't worry about it! Pick a "right side" at random!


It comes only in 14-count at this time.


Perforated paper comes brown, cream, off-white, and metallic silver and gold. If you want another color, color a scrap with a permanent marker and use it as a doodlecloth. There is also "perforated plastic."


Use a #24 or #26 tapestry. If the holes are full, use a sharp needle, such as a crewel or a chenille (a chenille is just a tapestry needle with a sharp point, so the sizes are identical). Probably, though, you'd need a #10 crewel if there are already several stitches in that hole (for example, when it comes time to backstitch.)


Remember that perforated paper won't "give" the way fabric will. Once injured, it will stay injured. Treat it gently.

Use the stab method.

Do not "puncture" the paper for partial stitches (see below for how to do those).


Stitch exactly as you would on fabric. Count on needing a sharp needle for backstitch. This is the perfect excuse to go to your favorite shop, where certainly you will be able to force yourself to find something else besides one paltry needle!

Full Cross Stitch
This stitch also works exactly as it would on fabric.

Half Cross Stitch
Again, do it just as you normally would.

Three-Quarter Stitch
Work the half cross first. Bring the needle up at the corner where the quarter stitch will end. Slip it under the half cross, over, and then back down in the same hole. The quarter stitch "hangs" on the half stitch. Don't pull too tightly.

Quarter Stitch
Work this the same way as the three-quarter, except use a color that matches the paper for the half stitch. This is not a terribly effective solution, so it's best to do without quarter- and three-quarter stitches in the design if you can. Or choose a design that doesn't require these partial stitches.


With paper scissors, trim right through a row of holes (to give a scalloped edge); or trim right at the bottom of the row of holes (to give a straight edge). If you opt for the former, moving the cut line to various places in the row of holes results in various degrees of scalloping.

copyright 1999, Martha Beth Lewis
Contact me about reprint permission.

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