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March Special: Free Needlework Stretching (What the heck is stretching?)

Anyone who partakes in hand sewing knows the commitment of time and energy it takes to complete a project. Once the project is done, it is a shame to put it away for safe keeping. Over time the piece may run into mishaps or could be forgotten completely. Framing needlework is always an option.

There are several ways to mount a needlework. Mounting means the piece is affixed in some manner so there isn't movement over time. It's "locked down" so everything stays in place. Very briefly here are a few ways to mount needlework...

1. Pinning - This requires laying the needlework over foam core and inserting straight pins in the perimeter of the foam core. The result isn't beautiful, but it all hides inside the frame. This is reversible, but it can stress the fabric.

2. Tacking

This is a quicker, less invasive method of mounting. It's almost invisible and reversible. I find I don't get a tight stretch, which isn't necessarily bad, but it makes borders and straight lines harder to control.

3. Lacing

This is a traditional, non-invasive method of mounting. I was introduced to this method in a class. It entails pulling the fabric over foam core and lacing the loose edges top to bottom and side to side. A needle and thread is used, but unlike pinning the needle is not a permanent fixture (as it is in pinning).

4. Adhesive - In general we use as little adhesive as possible and it's not my preferred method of mounting. There are exceptions to every rule, so you will find a spray can in my shop, but it is used very rarely. In fact, I can't think of a time I used it on a fabric piece.

Here we have a traditional project. Cross stitching with a black liner and silver outer frame. No glass is used on this one. Pinning was used in this project.

Another example is a section of a tablecloth from my grandmother. This one is tacked down. I will say, it's weird to cut up someone else's handiwork. but once I decided on the design I cut into it. This type of alteration would need the client's approval - I would never just cut into someone else's item! So while it was weird to alter the tablecloth, I really like how it turned out in the end. This will be a gift to a family memeber.

This project features four cross stitch samplers that were once framed individually many years ago. I had to dismantle the frames and... wow, what a mess! Multiple adhesives were used, I washed the fabric trying to get the goo off, but I was only partially successful. The adhesive had discolored the fabric and pulled the stitches as I freed them from their mounting boards. After so much wear and tear I chose to tack them down. Overall less invasive, but the stretch isn't as precise. Knowing how they had been mounted, I figured the pieces deserved to relax a bit. Anything hand made is imperfect (wonky is what we call it here) and I'm going to celebrate that.

With all projects that come into the shop, we talk through priorities. Needlework is the same and has it's own set of considerations, but with a little due diligence we get the job done.

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