Reversible Tapestry Crochet: Definitive Tips and Guide

Reversible Tapestry Crochet

Deciding on which tapestry to get for your place? There are so many choices from psychedelic patterns to simple paintings in pastel. But perhaps you are interested in making your own to add that personal touch.

Tapestry crochet is back in fashion, and in this article, we go over some essential things to consider before you take on the challenge! Tapestry crochet can be found in many different cultures throughout history.

Pieces can be made with thick yarn or delicate thread, depending on the purpose. Bags, sweaters, scarves, pouches, and tea cozies need thick yarn to keep in the warmth and to stay durable.

Other delicate headpieces or garments and decorative items may be made with finer materials. What all of the tapestries have in common is the importance of color - a feature that most find intimidating, making this craftsmanship a niche industry with very few people specializing in the art.

For anyone who does take on the challenge, the work always leaves them with items decorated in beautiful graphic designs.


Tapestry crochet is based entirely on basic single crochet stitches. Several different colors go across each row; you are carrying the yarn color not worked while working a stitch with the other yarn color.

The best is to start with a simple two-color crochet pattern as your guide. To practice, an easy way to give crocheting a whirl is with a simple round coaster (here isa list of coaster patterns that include helpful tips to guide you). Before you get started, consider making a small sample for practice carrying the yarn.

A simple sample with color changes in the middle of a row should do the trick. When you're done, examine the right side and the backside of your work to see that your rows are even. Once you are confident changing colors, you are ready to go!

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An important skill to learn in tapestry crochet is how to work with various colors in a row. When using two or more colors in each row, crochet one row over the other.

The color on the top is going to be the visible color, and the others will be carried behind it. Ensure that the stitches are tight so that you don't see the other colors in the background through the top color.

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Supposing that you do all of the work correctly, the front and back side of a tapestry crochet piece are reversible.

Nevertheless, the front and back sides of the work made from tapestry crochet patterns will appear a little bit different from one another.

When you work in rows, instead of in the round, always be aware of whether you're working on the front or back side when carrying your yarn so that you can make sure that the front side is always the tidiest and cleanest.

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The big difference between regular crochet and tapestry crochet colorwork is the way you begin each row to allow for subsequent color change.

When you are starting the row on the right side, you will want to hold your second color of yarn behind the work before you crochet over it.

When you are working on the backside, hold the background yarn in front of your work before crocheting over it. The backside may be a little lumpier and less perfect, although you should still see the color change pattern, while the right side will be more precise.

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Tapestry crochet patterns can be found in text form, or by using a grid-based graph with the image inside.

Usually, in a grid, each square is equal to one stitch, and you change colors according to the changes shown on the graph.

Keep in mind that the majority of the instructions for tapestry crochet are for right-handed people. Make sure to get the correct pattern if you are left-handed - it may require a bit of a search to find one you like, but they're out there.

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Here is a list of helpful yarn and stitch tips that you'll need to remember and use as you work your first crocheted project or two.

  • If you are new to tapestry crochet, choose thick yarn and a larger hook. Avoid fluffy yarns or yarns that will require a small hook. They make life difficult!
  • Tension is vital in tapestry crochet. Try to maintain an even stitch tension across your row - avoid crocheting loosely. You will use several color yarns in unison, and if you crochet too loosely - the colors will be seen in the background of the row and distract from the clean and neat design.
  • Make sure you pull the yarn to tighten up your single crochet stitches but don't pull the yarn too tightly, or the crocheted stitches will become distorted.
  • As you practice, always try to look on the right side of the project to see if your tension is even. Eventually, your fingers will understand precisely how much to pull while working a row.
  • It would be best if you used a crochet hook that matches the yarn. As you are crocheting, you may notice that the tension is not correct. Try to change the hook to a smaller (or larger) one until you are satisfied with the stitch tension, or the crochet and the look of your tapestry.
  • If you see the background yarn through the front stitches, try to gently pull the background yarn to tighten the stitches and remove them from being viewed over color changes.
  • If you are reading from a chart for your project, use a piece of paper or a sticky note to cover the rows that you've already worked on. This makes it easier to know where you are in the pattern without getting too mixed up.
  • Give tapestry crochet - round method - a shot before working with tapestry in rows. In the first method, the background yarn is tightened behind the front, with no need to worry about the right sides and back sides.
Many beginners like this method because it is easier.

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These days, there is so much information available online that it's possible to learn a new skill, like how to tapestry crochet, from the comfort of your own home.

There are several free tutorials available.

Whether you learn most efficiently from reading a great set of instructions, or you prefer to see the technique in action in a video tutorial, there are options out there for you.

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Lilla Bjorn walks you through the process with clear instructions and photos of each step.

It's worth clicking over to her site to see the beautiful pillow she made using the technique.

This post illustrates tapestry crochet with a tutorial featuring clear photos and instructions.

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This 7-minute video explains why you would want to use tapestry crochet, and demonstrates working the stitches in the round.

This video is only 3 minutes long and is better for people who already know how to crochet and who don't want to spend a lot of time watching an instructional video.

If you need a little more hand-holding before learning to tapestry crochet, check out this video. It's more than 20 minutes long. She makes a small heart pattern and crochets the entire piece in the video, sprinkling helpful tips throughout the video.

Now that you've learned the art of crochet tapestry style, you probably are going to want to find some patterns to keep that crafty streak going. Luckily, you don't have to pay a lot of money for good design or two as there are great ones available for free with an Internet search.

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If you are looking for a low-cost way to start tapestry crochet, you can find many free patterns on the internet.

We've saved you the search for your first (or next!) project by including a guide.

So get your yarn and hook and start working those crochet stitches! Here is a pattern for a cute bunny-themed coffee cozy.

This free cactus basket pattern has me wanting to get my hook out right now. Could that be any cuter?

This cute clutch is made using color changes to make an adorable checkered pattern.

Need a new throw blanket for your couch? You work this blanket with more than one color of yarn, changing the colors after each motif to create a rainbow on the right side. The changes in each row create a flower, and each flower is a different color.

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Now go forth and crochet. After you've got a project or two under your belt, you may feel the urge to flex your creative muscles and design your own pattern.

Time to search "how to make a tapestry crochet pattern!"

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Sara Phillipps
A vegan freelance web designer and blog writer based out of Austin, Texas USA.

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