Updated September 29, 2020.
Today’s guest post comes from my wonderful finisher (and great stitcher) the late Leigh Shafer of Sedona, AZ. I treasure the many pieces she finished for me, the last just a few months before her death.
I stitched the ornament pictured here, a vintage (and very small) Charley Harper mini-sock) and Leigh finished it. Her pictures and instructions are below.
When there is a lot of bare canvas, you want to be careful about the background fabric – try several to find out which color/shade looks best and enhances the needlework. For example, a bright ornament might look best with a dark red or blue reflecting out from behind the work, a snowman might look good with a dark blue or green to bring out the light colors and suggest a sky or trees behind it. For this piece, I used a light cream with sparkles, so that a little bit of sparkle will show through and focus the eyes on the needlework.
Once the background has been chosen, trim the canvas and cut the background slightly larger than the needlework. Using the sewing machine and a relatively short stitch length, sew the right side of the fabric to the wrong side of the stitching. Trim the lining close to the sewing line. This accomplishes two things: it attaches the lining to the canvas, and it stabilizes the canvas so that the edges won’t ravel while you’re working with them.
Larger pieces can then be sewn together using a machine, but smaller pieces do best when put together by hand. I prefer Kathleen Rake’s binding stitch, diagrammed in Sandy Higgins’ book, Sandy’s Finishing Touches. Work carefully, folding the canvas down every few stitches and taking care to keep your stitches evenly spaced. Several times during the binding, check to make sure your ends will meet. If the stitching is done correctly, this should not be a problem. If, however, there is a difference in length, this difference can be worked out gradually along the side – just add or subtract one thread every few stitches. There will be no “gathering” to show when finished. If you’re sure the threads are colorfast, you could use a steam iron with a press cloth to press the edges down. Personally, on small pieces, finger pressing is fine.
When all sides are joined, the hanging cord can be attached. With this method, it is not necessary to put custom cording around the piece to hide the joining, although it can be added if you prefer. The woven design created by the joining stitch can be quite attractive by itself.