Blocking is not for sissies…

14-07-09 blocking board fullMoving right along I have taken the first of finishing off the blocking board and set the second set. I’m starting with roll-ups or nutcrackers as I have several. A couple roll-ups were already off the blocking board and that’s why I decided to start with these and my thinking was they will be all finished alike so I can get an assembly line going…not that they would be easiest. Probably would have been easier to start with simple shapes, squares and ovals but I usually don’t do things the simple way.
14-07-09 Blocking remove tape & selvagesBlocking… first and foremost is after you are finished stitching your needlework…REMOVE THE TAPE. I have a couple pieces I did not do this and I can feel the gummy on the canvas so I cut the canvas off. And this tape is the kind used by needlework shops…never use masking tape on your canvas it is even worse. And if you buy that canvas you can’t live without and are going to put it in your stash pile, do not have tape put on the canvas, wait until you are ready to stitch this piece to tape it. If your local shop won’t tape it for you or you don’t have a shop you can purchase artist tape in different widths from art supply stores; here’s an example (–i-768-020-003). One of these days when I start a new canvas I’ll show how to tape a canvas…but now, back to blocking.
Also if your canvas still has the selvage on it cut it off…hopefully this will still leave you room to block piece. If not, for now just clip through the selvage like you are clipping a curve, block and then remove. And shame on the designer or teacher who put her design too close to the selvage.
14-07-09 blocking nddlept st lineBlocking is hard on the fingers and the fingernails. You have to pull the canvas taut. I start to pin my needlepoint in the upper right corner. I pull the canvas taut and pin the top first (it does not matter whether you pin across the top or down the right side first whichever you prefer) The two things that are important are that you pull the canvas taut AND you pin in the same ditch, channel, between two parallel canvas threads (straight line) across the canvas. Next I pin down the right side, pulling taut and following a straight line. Next is the left side and then across the bottom Sometimes my bottom pining will be off a canvas thread or two, but what matters is that the canvas is square with no waves or puckers. Adjust pins by pulling canvas if you have waves or puckers.
14-07-09 blocking nddlept pulling & st lineTo dampen or not…NEVER if silk or overdyes are used. I have a steamer and a mister but unless badly distorted (you must not have used your stretcher bars…shame on you) I seldom use water on my needlework. If I do, I put a towel under the blocking board and I mist very very lightly and leave the blocking board lying flat. You are going to love this reasoning…it makes no sense but it makes me feel more secure…I think if the board is flat and the color is going to run it will run down and not 14-07-09 blocking nddleptsideways. I told you it makes no sense but it makes me feel better. The other thing I have found is if I dampen needlework I have to adjust blocking the second time.
Okay needlepoint is on the blocking board and I leave it for a day or two, or three, or more…I check it after 24 hours and if the needlework is puckering I adjust the tension by unpinning two sides (bottom and left) and re-pin pulling taut. I leave blocked needlework on the blocking board until I get ready to finish and trust me I have had needlework on a blocking board a long time.
Another thing I want to mention here is if you have a piece that is badly distorted, I recommend two things:
1. Have it professionally blocked
2. Immediately find someone who will lace it for framing.
And know that over time it is going to distort again…unless of course you are planning on putting it in a museum where they can climate control it and keep it from the real world. And never let someone talk you into glue for the back or using pelon on the back… needlepoint is stronger than both of these and you will just have a mess.
I have a few old pieces from my grandmother and mother stitched in Continental or half cross and they distort. I’m sure my mother paid good money in her day to have these pictures framed but about every three or four years I can’t stand the ripples anymore and I take them out of their frames, and re-pin them (they were pinned to corrugated cardboard but I changed that to artist board years ago.)
Anna Pearson’s blog this week is also about finishing: ( She states she never designs or suggests a project without know who and how it will be finished. I love to read posts from across the pond…the English have such a lovely way of putting everything.
Next time we start finishing the roll-ups. Until then…
Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today! ttfn…sue

One thought on “Blocking is not for sissies…

  1. Pingback: Finishing, the beginning…again: | sudukc's needleart & other musings

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