Most of the time when you see people stitching needlepoint, they have them mounted on wooden squares. This helps keep the needlepoint flat, straight, and taut.
But you may not know how to use these. Today we’ll talk about the materials you need (along with tips) and how to mount your needlepoint correctly
First, bind your edges. The raw edge of needlepoint canvas can snag your threads, so you need to bind them so they don’t show. Often times you LNS will do this for you, but you can do it yourself.
The best thing to use is Artist’s Tape, sometimes called “that white tape.” It is a low tack paper tape you buy at art supply stores. It tears easily and comes in many widths.
Work on one side of your canvas. Lay the edge of the canvas on half the tape. Fold over to bind.
TIP: You get the best seal by ribbing both sides of the taped edge with a bone folder or your finger.
Do this for each side, tearing off the excess as each edge is complete.
TIP: Keep it in a dark place because light degrades the adhesive.
Stretcher bars come in many sizes. I’ll talk about regular and slim stretcher bars, which are both the cheapest and most common. Slims, or minis, are about 1/2″ thick, and are best for smaller items or for work such as Bargello that doesn’t distort much. They are sold in pairs.
TIP: Keep you bars organized by writing the length with a Sharpie on each side. This tip makes it much easier to find the right bars.
Find the sizes that fit the size of your taped canvas. Fit the sides together and check that the frame is square.
TIP: Check for squareness by shoving the frame in the corner of a door. It’s flexible so you can move it.
You will also need tacks. I like to use Quilter’s Tacks because they are big.
TIP: If you live in a humid place always use brass needlework tacks. These won’t rust the way regular tacks often do.
You need to decide if you want the front of your needlepoint on top of the bars, or below them. I put mine on top, but either works.
To Tack begin in one corner. Push in a tack. Go to the opposite corner, pull the canvas tight and tack that corner.
Do the other set of corners.
Now add tacks to the middle of each set of sides, again working on opposite sides.
At this point you need to decide if you need more tacks. Ideally needlepoint should be tacked every inch. I divide each area between two tacks in half, add a tack and go to the diagonal opposite. After my first few tacks on a side, I switch to regular and needlework tacks because they are smaller and I can fit more in.
TIP: If you find it hard to get tacks in try a Corjac which is easy to grip and made for placing tacks.
TIP: Canvas relaxes as you stitch so you may have to remove the tacks and restretch. Don’t worry this is natural.
About Janet M Perry
Janet Perry is the Internet's leading authority on needlepoint. She designs, teaches and writes, getting raves from her fans for her innovative techniques, extensive knowledge and generous teaching style. A leading writer of stitch guides, she blogs here and lives on an island in the northeast corner of the SF Bay with her family
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