Judging from my mail, many folks want to know how to finish needlepoint themselves. There are great books out there (my favorite is Pat Mazu’s Finishing 101, reviewed here), but finding information on-line can be a challenge.
Today I’ll look at general rules for finishing that allow you to adapt instructions you find. Then I’ll do a round-up of on-line resources for finishing stockings, pillows, stand-ups, and ornaments.
Adapting Finishing Instructions
The most important thing to remember when finishing needlepoint is that it is thick and heavy. This means that fabrics and glue you use for finishing should be strong enough to hold the weight.
If you are making a pillow or finding a backing for a stocking cotton calicos won’t work, but upholstery fabric will. If you are making an ornament and using glue don’t use a glue stick or school glue.
Another important thing to remember is that unstitched needlepoint fabric won’t bend like regular fabric. It can be stiffer and the weave is much coarser. This means that making rounder items can be more challenging.
If you use cording or trims they can hide the edges of your needlepoint unless you have stitched some extra rows.
Finally be careful if you have used open stitches of anty kind or if your item has exposed canvas. In those cases you will need to line the needlepoint with another fabric before finishing if you are making most items. This fabric will show, so it needs to be a solid color that coordinates with your stitching.
Stockings can come in many sizes. But if you want to open them an put something inside, they are all finished the same way. They will be lined with something thin to protect the back of the needlepoint and they will have a sturdier fabric as the backing. A gusset can be added to make the stocking wider and tassels and tags can be added.
The most complete tutorial I could find is from eHow. While it does not have illustrations, the instructions are excellent.
Another tutorial for finishing stockings is and oldie but a goodie. In the mid-nineties The Caron Collection did a tutorial on finishing mini-socks.
Cross-stitch + Needlework magazine has a great one-page print out that shows making stockings step-by-step.
Pillows come in two basic types: knife edge where the front and back meet at the edges, and box where there is a gusset around the side. Needlepoint pillows, like other decorative pillows, can have many kinds of closures. Most of them are either zippered or sewn shut.
A needlepoint pillow is made exactly like any other pillow except needlepoint is the front fabric.
There’s lots of information on making pillows on-line. Many of these come from sites for sewing or home decor.
Purl Soho has a nice tutorial that adds strips of fabric to turn a rectangular canvas into a square pillow.
There is an illustrated Wikihow on making needlepoint pillows. I like this one because it shows you how to stuff the pillow, something not covered often.
The Needlepoint Teacher site has a tutorial on making pillows that covers important techniques, such as where to dew and how to make corners.
I noticed one thing missing from all these tutorials, how to figure out the size pillow form you need. If you are stuffing the pillow yourself, size does not matter. But if you want to use a pre-made pillow form, buying the right size is important to the end result. The correct size is 1-2 inches smaller than your finished pillow size all around. Stuff a pillow with a form the same size and it looks flat and thin. Buy and use a bigger form and your pillow looks full. I learned this the hard way.
I bought my last pillow forms on Amazon. They seem to have forms from their partners in every size,
Stand-ups are the most challenging of these items to make. These can be many shapes and sizes.
About.com has a tutorial on making a stand-up with a weighed base. These would generally be used for figures. Without weights this same process can be used to make ornaments.
Here’s instructions on making a gusseted square stand-up, including adding feet.
Nothing can beat Sue Dulle’s great tutorials on finishing ornaments. She now has three: rectangular, round, and other shapes. They use glue instead of the harder technique of lacing, but you will have your ornaments finished quickly and beautifully.
If you don’t want to use glue, you can lace your needlework. This tutorial shows how to do it. While the illustrated ornament is cross stitch, the process is the same, you’ll just have to pull harder. Plus it also talks about how to use Kreinik’s drill to make cording.
Finally Nordic Needle has a great post that shows how to finish several kinds of flat ornaments. Most of these can apply to needlepoint, but some do not.