How Do You Stitch Revisited

     When I do canvaswork or hand-painted canvas, I always use stretcher bars. Someone brought to my shop a canvas to be stretched and finished as a small (dollhouse) rug. Can you say "parallelogram"? There were no squared corners. Stretching it was a real challenge, and the person doing the stretching (my partner at the time) was heard to mutter some choice words about it. Every time she took out the pins, while it might have less acute angles, it would gravitate back to the original shape. I don't know how many times she had to pin, spray, dry, repeat. It never did get totally squared up, but it was a vast improvement. I have been told if one does basketweave instead of continental or tent stitch, there is less distortion. I'm not experienced enough to know. I just know that if you put your canvas on a frame, you can pretty much eliminate that skewed effect.
     As far as I know, there are two basic frameworks to use: stretcher bars and scroll (or roller, as I've heard some people say) frames.
     Stretcher bars are the simplest, least expensive way to go. You have to buy them in pairs to match your canvas size, put them together, square them up, then tack the canvas on, keeping it as taut as possible. A woman who worked for me for a while passed along a tip for squaring your stretcher bars: place the corner in the corner of a door frame and knock it to fit snugly. This assumes that your door frame is square, which it should be. There are two styles of stretcher bars, regular and mini. The difference is the thickness of the bar. The regular size is 3/4", and the mini, 1/2". I generally use the minis for canvases up to 12" or 13" max. I just don't think they're sturdy enough for the larger size canvas.
     Having said that they are the simplest, least expensive way to go, I have to tell you about a very (relatively speaking) expensive type of stretcher bar that pays for itself over years and years of use: Evertite Stitchery Frames. These are made of a higher quality wood than the others and have the added advantage of being adjustable. Normally, as you work your piece, it will gradually loosen the tension, requiring untacking and retacking from time to time. The Evertite is made so that by using the "T Tool," you can tighten the tension without removing the canvas and retacking it. These stretchers are excellent for a piece that will be on the frame over an extended time. But from what I've seen, once you try them, you want them in all sizes for all of your projects. I haven't used them myself, but they never stayed in the shop for long.
     As for scroll or roller frames, they're pretty much the same as those I talked about for counted thread and cross-stitch. Generally, you want to use the ones that are more heavy duty, with a diameter of perhaps 3/4".
     I'm sure there are other ways to stitch canvas. These are what I've come across in my relatively recent foray into needlepoint and canvaswork. Please let me know of anything I've missed.

1 comment:

  1. You are right, Sara. Basketweave does distort less because (turn it over and look on the back) it pulls the canvas both ways, not just one. Otherwise, you hit all the high spots!