Thursday, August 4, 2011


sort of a tutorial

My method for stretching cross-stitch work has evolved over the years.  I was taught one way, read about another, and then settled on a third way I invented for many years.  However, I'm finally ready to proclaim yet another method superior to the others, and it just took a little common sense to arrive at it.

There are two schools of thought when designing for cross-stitch.  The first way is for purists.  Simply stretch the cross-stitch and frame.  No mat, no glass.  It's a style that has worked for centuries.  A more contemporary approach is to stretch, mat, and glaze the work as one would a fine print or watercolor.  Either way the work is presented, the stretching method is the same.

Get tools handy:  flathead pins, thimble, straight edge, granny glasses.  Cut acid-free foam to 1/8" shy of intended overall size for to allow for fabric thickness.

Protip:  Cross stitch people work in very small detail and think about design that way, too.  One time I asked a cross-stitcher how far out from the stitches she's like me to position the mat.  I was thinking maybe an inch or half an inch.  "5 stitches out," she said.  And she brought a stitch gauge out of her purse.  I think of that conversation everytime I stretch a cross-stitch.  In my centering process, I always count rows out rather than solely relying on my straight edge.        

Above, I have located the centers on all four sides, and used low-tack framer's tape to follow specific rows so I don't get all slanty in the stretch.  Below, I locate the center on the acid-free foamboard.  The cross-stitch will be pinned to the sides of it.

Like canvas-stretching, tacking begins from the centers and radiates out...

...following rows in the fabric.


The client here chose the purist's approach and went with a perfectly matched slender whitewash ornate frame.

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