baa baa black sheep


Fabric Tips

Okay, here is the slightly edited email I sent to caquincy last night right before bed. Except I'm going to fix my horrible typos. I'm not sure it helps, but, here goes:

"Okay, here is my pathetic attempt to explain how to stretch a piece of embroidery/fabric without using hand gestures or physical examples. Instead of cardboard, try to get your hands on a piece of acid-free foam core (Hobby Lobby/Michael's/Dick Blick/maybe even office stores should have it) in the size you need. Keep in mind you'll need a bigger piece if you want to put a mat over it, because mats make the whole piece bigger. Standard frame sizes are 8 by 10, 9 by 12, 11 by 14 (or 10 by 14), 16 by 20, 18 by 24. That might help you know what you need to do if you want to find a frame at a regular store.

Lay your fabric over it and get it where you want it placed so that everything is even and straight. (Keep in mind the fabric will probably stretch if you sew it how this way.) Once it is in place, fold the edges of the fabric around the back of the foam core and pin the EDGES of the fabric, all the way around. Use as many straight pins as you want. Pin, pin, pin. I hate straight pins, I drop them a lot and have carpal tunnel so can't always like, feel them to pick them up. It's really fun! But you still have to pin. When you're done pinning, flip it over and look at the front to make sure you like how everything is placed. Measure your borders, etc, to make sure everything is tidy and even. If it's crooked, go ahead and unpin parts and pull the fabric to where you want it. Then repin.

Okay, then you get to do the annoying part, if you want to do it the proper annoying fancy way. I sent you a picture of a lame computer drawing I did to try to explain this process.

I went to art school!

Using strong quilting thread (regular thread will break), you zig-zag sew the back edges of the fabric. Start at one corner, and run the thread up to the opposite side, and then back down, over and over, until you get to the end. (See the red lines, they are my "thread." I stopped partway on the other side cause I figured you'd get the point.) Go all the way across the piece. You'll need a long piece of thread, and you'll have to pull it through now and then. Use one piece of thread for the whole side. Before you snip the thread and tie it off, you have to get it pulled nice and tight. So pull away, the thread should be tight enough that when you strum across it (don't laugh at me, I don't normally sew) it makes a little plinking sound. Like a guitar! Only not as pretty sounding! Tie it off when it's all tight and then do the same thing going the other way. This process usually takes me a long time, but I'm not a sewer and have issues with things like my thumbs. This lady worked with me at a frame shop for a while and I seem to remember her being really awesome at this, so go pester her if I'm speaking gibberish.

Once you've done length-wise and width-wise, you can take the pins out (take them out, especially if they are the kind that can rust), and, hooray! You're done stretching your needlepoint!

Of course, if you are not this ambitious, you can get (preferably) acid-free tape and just tape down your edges that are wrapped around the foam core and pretend that you sewed them up all properly. I have no idea how long it would hold that way. Don't use masking tape. I've seen masking tape and cardboard do horrible things to pretty embroidery. I think the sewing is to keep things taut and neat, and to provide even pressure, and to get warped fabric all stretched all nicely. It's sort of like stretching a canvas.

So you can then put a mat on it, or not, depending on what you want. Some people do not like to put glass over their needle points, but I think glass is a good idea because fabric can get dusty and gummy over time from dirt and humidity. (You know how the glass on picture frames gets dirty? It's way easier to get that stuff off glass instead of trying to get it off framed fabric). If the piece is puffy and sticks out much, you may consider either a mat or spacers to hold the glass away from the piece and not put uneven pressure on the glass. Keep in mind that with the fabric and such, the width of the materials you are framing can be bulky, so remember that when looking at how tall/wide the inside of the frame is. It's annoying when everything is too thick for the frame and it's sticking out the back.

Does that help? I hope that helps."

In any case, this helps explain why it costs more to frame needle points.

Something else I thought of: these always look better framed when the needlepoint is clean and doesn't have fold lines in it. If it is dirty or wrinkled, ask how the frame shop would deal with that. Make sure you're comfortable with how they'll clean it. Store your unframed needle points somewhere dark so they don't fade, and don't wad them up or fold them up for years. Keep them flat.

black sheeped


Anonymous Swistle said...

I was VERY INTERESTED again, and I don't even do fabricwork or have any to frame! But I was interested anyway. I think you must be a good teacher. I thought "I went to art school!" was very funny, and so was "Like a guitar! Only not as pretty sounding!" That reminds me: I forgot to say how funny I thought the summing-up was on the other framing post. "Colors should complement the image! The image!" Ha ha ha!

12:30 PM, August 31, 2007  
Blogger CAQuincy said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Now maybe that I'm quitting my job I'll actually have the TIME to get that framing done (not holding my breath on that, though!). At least I have already bought the mats and frames--I just need to get around to the actual DOING it part!

My two youngest are 5 1/2 and 33 months already. Wonder if they'll be out of high school before it ever happens?

Thank you SOOOO much!

12:57 PM, August 31, 2007  
Blogger Pixel Pi said...

Easy solution for dropped pins and carpal tunnel/thumb problems: Magnet. Works like a charm.

10:10 AM, September 01, 2007  

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