Saturday, May 28, 2011

From Stitches to Masterpiece: Frames

Framing projects is a lovely way to show your efforts off, but a badly framed project can actually be as bad as not bothering at all.

Frames for embroidery and cross stitch projects need to be carefully chosen. Not every frame is suitable for this type of work, especially as they require a good deal of room. Your project is not like a photo, paper thin and able to fit every commercial frame out there, but there are good options.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Caterpillar Blanket

My friends are the proud parents of an adorable little boy, so naturally, a quilt had to be made. Its what set me off into the quilting craziness that led to the my Trip Around the World that still needs a better name. But this baby quilt came out gorgeous- so gorgeous in fact, that I had to start the second quilt so I wouldn't want to keep the one for him!

I didn't really follow any pattern, just put a bunch of strips together from a jelly roll in what I call a "half log cabin" but probably has a proper name somewhere and then played around with their layout until I found something I liked. I call it my "caterpillar"- and no, its not an s-word cause I'm scared of those. Its a caterpillar. Dammit.

Monday, May 16, 2011

From Stitches to Masterpiece: Matting

Matting is something that people see all the time but don't know what it is. It is the nice looking outer bits to most professionally framed items.

One of the nice things about using mat boards on your project, is that if you don't have a deep frame, this can help with making your frame work. You can skip the back board and yet still have a project that you don't have to fight to frame as you can use the mat board to hold it all in. Its not ideal, but it works.

Matting can be had in most good photography, art or craft shops. They will cut the nicely beveled edges for you and make certain it is the right size for your frame for a fee usually. I really prefer going to the pros for this, but for argument's sake, I'll give you a beginner's guide to cutting mat boards.

This is a longer lesson than prior ones as I'm essentially explaining two things- how to cut your mat boards and how to mount your project on the mat boards.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

From Stitches to Masterpiece: Lacing

So, if you've been following on, and you wanted to just make a pillow or put your project in a quilt or some other option that does not require a frame or your project to be flat, you can skip from here on out. At this point, having cleaned, blocked and ironed your project it is ready to be sewn into whatever other plans you have for it.

For the rest of us, our next step is Lacing. It could actually be Matting (next time!) depending on what you want to use for the back of your Lacing but for now, we're going to do Lacing.

Monday, May 9, 2011

From Stitches to Masterpiece: Step 3- Ironing

So, you've cleaned it, blocked it, dried it. Now you get to iron it! 

Words of Warning
This step is the biggest step that will set your project in ways that you cannot un-do. If you skipped the cleaning step, and there are some oils from your hands, stains from spills, or just tiny bits of dirt you can't see, then this step will SET THEM IN!!! Once ironed (or steamed if you choose to block it that way), you will NOT be able to get out something that should not be there simply by re-washing.

And even if other people can't see it, you'll know its there. You'll see it and realize that if you'd just taken a tiny bit of extra time that you could have had perfection. So if you've skipped the steps until now- I highly suggest you go back to Lesson 1 and clean your project. Trust me, its worth it not to cringe inside every time you look at something.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

From Stitches to Masterpiece: Step 2- Blocking

The basic idea of Blocking is to use water to relax the fabric and stretch it out into the desired shape. After proper blocking, short of re-soaking the project, it will hold its shape well. This can correct a myriad of minor issues and even some mistakes and will make mounting/framing a project infinitely easier.

Knitting and Lace makers find it of particular use as it helps give their pieces the appropriate shapes and once finished will make the piece stay that shape- very useful when you're making clothes! While Knitters and Lace makers will use 3 types of blocking- wet, steam, and spray blocking, I'm only going to cover wet blocking in detail.  Steam and spray blocking involve pulling an item out to the shape you want, and then either spraying it with water or using steam over the piece to relax it into the shape.

However, with cross stitch and embroidery pieces, wet blocking is, in my opinion, just better. Because you're mostly interested in the stitches, and your work is unlikely to be shaped differently from the final product as knitting can  be, its much more likely that you'll be correcting lines and flattening fabric/stitches rather than changing the shape.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

From Stitches to Masterpiece: Step 1- Cleaning

There has been a lot of talk about what to do with a piece of cross stitch once you've finished it on forums I frequent. And considering I had my Tiger still needing to be dealt with, I thought I'd pass along what I know about how to make something that could just look like it was thrown together into something that truly shows off all the work done- well.

The standard way is, of course, to frame the piece which conveniently was my plan for my Tiger anyway! But even if you choose another way to display your project like turning it into a pillow or part of a quilt, there are some steps you really should take.

I will admit to being a bit of a stitchery snob. I think every piece of stitching, whether its embroidery, cross stitch, knitting, lace, and even quilts, are not complete if you cut corners on your finishing. This includes everything from blocking and ironing, to buying good quality frames, and even tidying up my loose threads on the backside.

After all, you don't want to spend a year of your life working on something only to have all its flaws shown off because you couldn't be bothered to go to a little bit more effort, do you?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

From Stitches to Masterpiece: Overview

From Stitches to Masterpiece is a series of tips and How To's for what to do with stitching projects once you finish them.
UPDATE: May 2012. This guide primarily follows me finishing off one single cross-stitch project. I have since added a few photos and tips for other types of projects and techniques.