Like many other stitchers, I used to stitch my background last. While it always allowed me to stitch the fun part of the needlepoint first, it does have problems as well. There are plenty of reasons not to stitch the background last.
- It’s boring. Many projects get given up because stitching acres of background is very repetitive.
- It can slightly change the balance of the finished piece because stitches that are made last slightly overlap the previous stitches.
- There can be shadows on the front if darker traveling threads cross unstitched lighter background areas. Stitching the background pushes the darker thread up against the canvas, causing the shadows.
To combat this, I started stitching backgrounds differently. My method makes the biggest difference when the background is light, as is the case here. I do use it often, but not always, on all backgrounds.
My method is simple: Stitch the background as you stitch the foreground. You can see it in the project above. I started with the background and stitched up to the bottom needle and the bottom left heart. Next, I stitched these. For the letters, I stitched up to them and then stitched the letters up to where I had not background.
This minimized traveling threads being next to the canvas and put it over the background threads on the back. Although the background is open, very few threads show through on the front. That’s because they are lifted away from the back of the canvas.
I tend to be a very slapdash stitcher. The process of planning out my path to avoid traveling threads is too time-consuming for me. I like taking this approach because I don’t need to do advance planning. You can see the final result in the picture below.
This process can be done with any canvas, but there are some situations where it needs to be modified, or where the background can be stitched at once.
If the background has dots or small motifs. If your background is like this, stitch the main part of the background first, then the motifs. This way you can allow threads to travel from motif to motif.
If your focal point is well-contained. I stitched the background last on the Designing Woman cross pictured below. Even though there are ins and outs in the focal point, the background is a single area. There will be little concern with pverlaping here.
If the background in dark. Shadows are not a problem with darker backgrounds. In these cases you can stitch the background all at once.
Try this approach, you might find it worthwhile.