Ellie wrote me last week wanting some tips for finishing needlepoint inexpensively. She said “I want to start doing more– pillows, brick covers, ornaments, etc.– but I find that it’s just SO expensive to finish items. In addition, it’s very expensive to have someone paint your pattern onto needlepoint fabric (and can also be expensive to buy a pre-painted item that’s not cheezy/found at a craft store).
Any suggestions? I don’t have a sewing machine, but am pretty crafty.”
I don’t have a sewing machine either, so I can relate.
However, pillows are one of the easiest things to make and if you have a bunch to do, it can be worth it to rent a sewing machine for a week and finish up a bunch of things. I’ve done this before and it was really worth it. I bought pillow forms when they were on sale and bought fabric and trims on clearance. Then I store everything together, ready to go when I can sew.
Another thing I do is buy items that are already made that can have needlepoint inserted into them. There are three I like best.
I look for boxes with glass tops. I have had the best luck at Target with jewelry boxes brought in for Christmas. Instead of glass, put needlepoint in the top. I get them when I see them on sale. Tuesday Morning is also a good place to find them as well. Pretty much anything with a glass top can be used this way.
I also look for photo albums with openings in the front for pictures. You need to check these to make sure the openings are deep enough for needlepoint, many aren’t and will only fit a picture.
But my very favorite is wallets. I look for wallets with openings in the front for your ID. They should also have a window pocket on the inside as well. Trace the shape of your ID into needlepoint canvas, stitch it up, trim and put it into the pocket. Mine took about 2 hours to make start to finish.
I also check sales regularly at needlework stores and at places like Michael’s. I will buy something which would work for finishing and not use it for quite awhile.
A final idea which requires no stitching is adding needlepoint to a tote bag. Turn under the edges, and glue on with hot glue. Straw and canvas work best for this. I haven’t had as good luck with plastic totes. You can also use hot glue to attach needlepoint to papier mache or wooden items which you have painted. These are very inexpensive at craft stores.
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
If you can sew, invest in a used or inexpensive sewing machine. Think of it as the cost of having a couple of ornaments or a pillow finished professionally.
I finish ornaments and other simple things myself. Stitch around edges with wrong sides together, turn right side out, iron lightly to define edges, and add trim or cord by hand. Soemtimes I stuff them with fiberfill.
I’ve also finished a brick cover by machine stitching, but there’s a needlepoint stitch whose name escapes me that you can use to join the edges of a brick cover or eyeglass case. It crosses over the 2 edges in a herringbone pattern.
Jody Valentine included in her round ornament kits instructions for using glue, stiff interfacing and a backing fabric to finish her ornaments. Easy and almost cost free – I’ve done that successfully too.
Old needlepoint books (70s and 80s) that include projects usually have finishing instructions too. I’ve found some good ones in used book stores and online.
Like Janet, I also buy frames, boxes and albums that can accomodate stitched canvases. Good luck!
ditto this thought – it can be so expensive to have items professionally finished. I just found a new resource to finish pillows, half the cost of my local shop. The pillow isn’t done yet so I can’t say if I’ll have them do another. most of my work I finish myself; not always perfect but I just overlook it.
In addition to mounting work on posterboard you can mount work on styrofoam squares and pin fabric on the back- add braid, a variety of fringe or twisted cord that can be pinned or glued on and you have a beautiful piece. Very little finishing requires much machine stitching- most is hand sewing!
The biggest problem with finishing is the time it takes away from stitching!
Seth Berman says
Our customers ran into something similar so we started to look into how we can help them and started talking to some local crafters.
We can take a finished needlepoint canvas (12″ x 12″) and turn it a pillow for $40. We charge an extra $7.50 for shipping.
I’m not sure if this is inexpensive enough, but compared to other companies I contacted, it seems more fair…