If you want to finish your needlepoint ornamnents yourself, you are likely to become frustrated and not by the finishing. You’ll be frustrated by how difficult it is to find information and on-line instructions to do so.
I got asked this question a few days ago, and I know it’s one many folks have. Today we’ll identify (and see) several types of ornaments, link to resources on how to make them, and list some great books on finishing to help you.
These ornaments can be any shape. Usually they have needlepoint on the front and a stiffener inside. This is the kind of ornament most people mean when they say they want to “finish an ornament.” The stiffener can be anything from a piece of plastic canvas to cardboard or even Skir-tex (used in upholstery).
Until recently it was hard to find tutorials on this finish, but I just found one on the Life Tart blog. It has tons of illustrations and detailed instruction. Find it here.
You can also make a flat ornament without a stiffener as Leigh Shafer showed in her tutorial from last year.
If your ornament is a circle and either 3″ or 4.5″ in diameter, you can use a Lee Needle Arts Luggage Tag or Ornament to finish it. These are easy to finish yourself but they will put a leather border around the design. That may not be a look you want. The ornament at the top of the article was finished this way.
Did you know that you can find rounds for covered buttons up to almost 2″ in diameter? These make fantastic little ornaments. I like them best using softer Congress Cloth, but 18 mesh also works. These are finished just about the way you would cover a button.
It’s a very fast finish and you can cover to button forms and make a bolder or two-sided ornament. Here’s a tutorial.
If an ornament is made so that it can sit flat on a table, with or without legs or an easel-back, it’s called a stand-up. Cylindrical ornaments, often called roll-ups, are a subset of stand-ups. Usually these have a weighted bottom and the hanger on the top. Here’s a tutorial from About.com on finishing these.
Mini-socks are my favorite ornaments and I’ve probably stitched close to 100 of them. I usually make them as small versions of regular Christmas stockings so that something can be put inside them. You can also finish mittens this way.
My favorite tutorial for these is an oldie-but-goodie from The Caron Collection.
A folded diamond is diamond-shaped on the front but begins as a square canvas. The corners are folded to the back and the edges are sewn together. They are incredible easy to make if your ornament is the right shape. Here’s a tutorial on making them. It’s written for Cross Stitch but the technique is the same.
You can neatly finish the back by using a piece of fun foam to cover the stitching and make a border. Here’s my tutorial.
These are just the main types of ornaments you might finish yourself. There are many products that self-finish ornaments, 3-D shapes you can make yourself and lots more. Here’s to a great assortment of ornaments. You can’t have too many.
Books on Finishing
The most comprehensive book on finishing is Pat Mazu’s Finishing 101 (reviewed here). It has detailed instructions on finishing many different shapes and comes in a loose-leaf format so it’s easy to take out just the pages you need.
Many people like Sandy’s Finishing Touches by Sandy Higgins (reviewed here). It’s been around for awhile and has great information.
Finishing stitchery on fabric (i.e. Cross Stitch or embroidery) is slightly different than finishing needlepoint ornaments. If you need to get both, purchase Marcia Brown’s Distinctive Presentations in Needleart (reviewed here). It covers both.
To see lots more finishing ideas & tutorials check out my finishing board on Pinterest.