I have a box full of stitched but unfinished ornaments. I’d like to finish them, but I hate to do it myself and I’m far too cheap to pay to have them all finished. So they languish.
In this I am not alone, many, maybe most, share my dilemma.
One really quick solution to this problem is to stitch your ornaments on plastic canvas. Begin with a free design (this All about Needlepoint page has links and descriptions of many of them).
I like 14 mesh plastic canvas. You can use the same threads on it as you do on 18 mesh cloth canvas and the finished size is quite nice.
Finishing the Edges
For both kinds of ornaments (described below) you will finish the edges the same way.
Begin by cutting the ornament out along the first row of open holes beyond your stitching. When you’re done you have the finished stitching with a margin of blank canvas around it.
Once you have the ornament assembled (see below for those details), pick a thread that will make a nice edging, this can be one of the colors in your ornament or a coordinating color. I like to think of this as similar to binding on a quilt.
Beginning near the loop, make Tent Stitching going from the outside edge of filled holes to the outer edge of the cut canvas. While the motion is the same as making a Continental Stitch, this process is called overcasting when it is done in sewing.
At the corners you will probably have to make more than one stitch to make them look neat.
When you have stitched all around the ornament, tuck the thread end into the back and cut it off.
Exposed Back Finishing
This is absolutely the fastest way to finish, but if your ornaments twist, the back will show.
Begin by making your loop. Double over a piece of ribbon (flat) thread. I usually use metallic ribbon and tie a knot at the end.
Thread a needle with the unknotted end. Bring the needle through the backs of some stitches and pull it tight so the knot is against the stitches. UNthread your needle. Now you have a loop for hanging.
Hold the loop so it is beyond the edge of the ornament and overcast the edges.
Covered Back Finishing
Covered backs allow the ornament to turn around showing either a stitched or unstitched back.
If you are stitching the back make sure the stitched area for the back is no bigger than the front. Use the same mesh of plastic canvas.
Cut out your back, stitched or unstitched to exactly the same size as the front. This is easy to do because you can count.
Follow the instructions for adding the loop in the section above on unfinished backs.
Line up the back and the front so that the holes match and hold them tightly as you finish the first quarter or so.
The overcast process is the same, except this time you are stitching through two layers of plastic canvas. The end is finished as you sew the two layers together.
Plastic canvas is an easy way to make easy chic ornaments. The pictures throughout this post are original designs of mine on plastic canvas and finished this way.