New Book: finishing

I have my father to thank for my love of books; I never remember him not having a book to read in his position. Somewhere I have a bookmark where he wrote; “a good book is sometimes the best company to keep.”  AND, I have procrastination down to an art…but I learned this from my mother. She had to own every book, magazine and all the tools and supplies on a subject before she tried doing it. I remember tole painting…I didn’t think she would ever get around to putting brush to paint. After reading and taking several classes she tole painted a few pieces…she was really rather good at it too.

14-06-12_finishing101So, I stopped the finishing and read Pat’s book and it is a good one. Great advice and it is more than a finishing book, it has thoughts on the whole process of stitching. I loved that she said to read all the finishing instructions before starting and to adapt your own style of finishing. I think that’s great advice, what I might do to my piece you might not like on yours and I am not opposed to glue in certain instances and Pat doesn’t use glue.

The first third of the book is general information about needlework and finishing. I found it very interesting and also thought provoking. She takes about everything from clean hands; how to make a blocking board and how to make trims. She gives you suggestions for where to obtain or make those little things that will make finishing easier.

The major part of the book Pat walks you through how she finished several different pieces of needlework. I had a “AH-Ha” moment while reading one of these instructions for a finishing idea I’ve been mulling around in my head. And another I wish I had read before I did the Henny Penny Eyeglass case ( last year…would have made finishing much easier.

This has long been the advice of needlepoint books to know what your needlepoint will be after it is stitched and if it requires fabric then purchase it and then pick your threads. This is great advice but we seldom do this, we just expect our finisher to find just the perfect match. And like Pat said you’re not likely to find much apple green when hunter green is all the rage.

Another thing we never think about when we take our stuff to the finisher is her costs. She has to buy fabric, remember decorator fabrics are 55 inches wide and the finisher has to buy the whole width; dress fabrics are only 44-45 inches wide but she still has to buy the width. And your green may not be my green even if we were in a class together and I may want my pillow 15 inches while 12 inches is your size. And in some decorator shops there is a yardage minimum unless you happen to find a remnant, but if you order that special fabric there is a minimum.  This drives the cost of your pillow up…finishers have to figure they may never use the rest of the fabric purchased for your pillow. And we haven’t even talked about the trims, ribbons and do-dads that make you needlework special. So please remember this the next time you wince at the cost of finishing what really goes into the cost of finishing that ornament, pillow or whatever…and it’s not just the cost of the materials but also the time and cost it took to look for that special fabric, ribbon, do-dad.

Pat also suggests you start a notebook with your own finishing hints; I have a 3 inch binder that I keep all sorts of finishing notes from ideas that appeal to me; helpful hints I have garnered from other needlework teachers; to finishing instructions I have written for other needlework projects. I’m sure I will need a larger notebook before I am finished.

Pat’s Bibliography and Sources is very good. She has far more books in her finishing library than I have in mine…but she finishes professionally and I am but a dabbler. This book also has possible design patterns with information on how to use.

I am not indorsing any one book but I will tell you I am glad I have the books I have in my library (See 2 posts back for list:  From Pat’s book, my newest addition, through Edie Weilemann, Sandy Higgins and Summer Truswell’s books (, I will be reading the how to’s before I start a project. I also hope to take lots of pictures and do lots of notes and drawings for my notebook. I glad I have my old books too ( Pat calls them her: “Classic Books”) by Dorothy Burchette and  Katharine Ireys, they have some unusual finishing items that I may want to try , plus some helpful timeless hints.  And I am going to look through my Singer books for ideas, not to mention the interne.  And next time I am at the fabric sore I am going to look at the pattern books for ideas too, maybe someone has already invented my wheel… and of course the book section (this girl can never have too many  books…my family would disagree but they are wrong.) .

Reading Pat’s book has affirmed for me that I can do my own finishing; I may not be as fast or as good as the finisher who does this all the time, but I can do this. And it does not mean that I am not going to send needlepoint to the finisher, it just means I can do this and I can share my ideas with others.

So it is back to the sewing table; summer is here and I want to make lots of progress.

I’ll be back later in the week I finished stitching Betsy and I had some issues; not with the canvas Anne Stradal ABS Designs ( or paints a great canvas. I had a problem with a thread. Later this week.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today! I’ll be stitching some finishing. ttfn…sue

UFBS(UnFinished but Stitched) Supplies

I spent a couple hours making sure I had all the supplies I thought I might need for this massive project I am undertaking, but I know it is like any needlepoint project I will need something. Supplies vary from project to project but the following are some than I keep in my finishing box and general sewing box and as we go along this summer I will add to this list. By the way these tools are not listed in order of importance…but rather how I took the pictures. 14-06-18 supplies A Picture 1

1. Fabric pen and pencil: make sure they are fabric safe. I have two pencils one for light fabrics and one for dark fabrics.

2. Seam ripper: Never know when yu will need to frog stitch the finishing.

3. Hem gauge: I have a couple of these but this is my new fancy one.

4. Wood creaser and pointer…saves the nails.

5. Chop Sticks: I use these for stiffing stand-ups. And it is a good reason to eat oriental food…like I need a reason.

6. Beeswax: I beeswax every thread I finish with. Gives extra strength and also seems like it keeps the thread from twisting as much.

7. Pins: Make sure you have good sharp pins. 8. Good needles I use quilting needles and embroidery needles, if I need a needle with a larger eye I use Chenille needles. The size varies with the project, larger needles for larger projects; remember the larger the needles number the smaller the needle. There are great online resourses about needles; just Google “Hand sewing needle identification.”

Sewing machine needles will be on your list if you plan on doing any of your finishing with a sewing machine. Of course this assumes you have a sewing machine too.

9. Thimble: sometimes you need a good thimble and I like these two the best. Clover makes the tan leather one and I’m not sure where I got the other but I would bet at a quilting shop.

10. Scissors: can you ever have too many pair? I have this hierarchy system I use for larger scissors, especially sewing scissors. MY system works pretty well (now that I do not have small children in the house that will pick up the closest pair of scissor their little hands can find.) I change my scissors about every year and only when they are 50% off at local sewing store.

My system: Fabric scissors…cuts nothing but fabric! When these get dull I buy another pair and move this pair to the general sewing scissors stage.

Pinking shears: cuts NOTHING but fabric and not all fabrics just when I don’t want fabric to fray. I have had two pair of pinking shears in the last 40 years so that will give you an idea how particular I am about using these.

General sewing scissors: used to cut trims threads etc…Do not use for canvas or paper. I also have a couple pair of snips I keep by the sewing machine and in my finishing box.

General scissors move to the… Needlepoint scissor stage for cutting canvas only; they are not sharp enough for fabrics but not yet ready for paper. I think canvas dulls scissors and so I move these on down to the anything else category.

Anything else scissors: I cut paper patterns and small mat-board shapes. After this stage they are not much good but I do take them to general household use and even donate to the men’s workshop area. 14-06-18 supplies B Picture 2:

11. Pressing cloth: I have a silicone one, a lightweight fabric one and muslin for a third. Keeps ickies from the iron off your finished needlework.

12. Rulers: I have lots of these in various sizes. I use them to cut fabrics

13. Water bottle: I put fresh water in this before I use. Sometimes I have to spritz blocked needlepoint, but I never try to soak a needlepoint piece and always keep blocking board flat with an old towel underneath.

14. Iron: I never put water in my iron…think it clogs them up an over time makes funny stuff come out the steam holes. That being said you would think the sole plate of my iron would stay pretty clean but it does not, so that’s why I use a press cloth.

15. Silicone mat: this happens to be a hot pad holder but I use it to sit my hot iron on when I move it off the ironing board. Saves scorch marks. Other thinks I’ve thought of since I took the pictures.

16 Adjustable ironing board: mine is the same height as my sewing machine table and sits just to the left of the sewing table. I use it not only to press but assemble too.

17. Fray Check: never know when your going t need some.

18. Glue: White tacky archival safe.

19. Mat boards: I have a lightweight illustration boards. I have two weights, one is heavier than the other…but the lighter is not poster board.

20. Thread: I use regular thread or quilting thread

21. Fabrics: I have a pretty good supply of fabrics that I have amassed over the years.

22. Pelon: I have several weights, both fusible and plain.

23. Cotton Quilt batting: two weight, light and medium.

24. Aquarium gravel: I rinse this well and use in a plastic bag as weight for stand-ups. I have a friend who claims a roll of pennies ($1.00) or nickles ($2.00) is cheaper.

25. Hand drill: Kreinik makes one (; mine is red but the new one is black.

26. Fishing Weights: use to make cording.

I can think of other things but they are item specific like mat board is for ornaments and standups…so I’ll wait and add these if I use them.

I have started the finishing but am going to wait until next week to tell you about it because: a. this post is getting long and b. my book from Pat Mazu just arrived and I want to look it over.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today! I’ll be stitching some finishing. ttfn…sue

UFBS(UnFinished but Stitched) becomes Pandora’s Box

I am still working on my Canvas tutorial…how to use. There is an interest, maybe not a large following but I think anytime you can help someone reach their goal; it’s a good thing.  I would much rather help someone learn to produce  good stitch guides  than to have them commit copyright infringement by photocopying books for stitch guides or heaven forbid other stitch guide stitches.

14-06-08 to finish aOh my, did I open Pandora’s Box! I got out two UFBS boxes (Unfinished but stitched) to see what I had. I stopped counting at 25 finishing projects and that was not pieces but projects.  I have about 24 Halloween pieces and I only counted them as one and the 5-6 roll 14-06-08 to finish bups I counted as one. I found original designs I have not yet put in the computer. Oh my, UFBS boxes have become Pandora Boxes and have unleashed a monster; I may never get out of my sewing area again! But I am going to start and some of my original pieces I will include finishing instructions with my charts for those that want to give finishing a try.

I spent last week-end getting organized and putting everything in one place. I had finishing here and there. Well, it made it look like I didn’t have a mountain but just little molehills. Now I ‘m looking at this mountain of finishing as lots of practice.

Over the years I have amassed in my library many books on finishing; and yes I found one I did not have so I ordered it. There has to be some compensation or taking on this massive project and I already have more than enough stitching so 14-06-12_finishing101why not another book. I ordered Pat Mazu’s Finishing 101 from Stitching From the Heart ( I can hardly wait to get it. I have stitched a few of Pat’s stockings (think there is one on the finishing mountain as a matter of fact) and enjoyed it very much.

I also contacted Pat to get permission to use her book picture and she is semi-retired but still does finishing for one shop. She said her finishing technique is pretty basic and so if you want the new stuff using styrofoam she’s not you girl. She also mentioned her bibliography and you know that means books…I could be in heaven.

Here are my other finishing books, I tried to contact Sandy HIgggins and Summer Truwell to for permission to use their pictures but had no response:

14-06-12 book weilemannI took a class many years ago from  Edie Weilemann and it was wonderful. It was a hands on learning class and she gave us her book Finishing Needlework.  I learned a bunch and hope it comes back to me quickly. I remember the lady sitting next to me said, “This is the best class I have ever taken! I am not a finisher but a stitcher. AND I will never complain about how much finishing costs again.”  I may agree with her after this summer, we’ll see. I contacted Edie and she still does finishing…ummm good to know. And her book is still available. Look for her on Facebook.

14-06-12 book HigginsThe following I found online so there are copies available should you want to join my summer project.

Sandy’s Finishing Touches
by Sandy Higgins; ISBN 978-0-9663617-1-1

14-06-12 book truswellUltimate Big Book of Finishing, needlework knowledge and techniques by Summer Louise Truswell.

And of course I have books from the 70’s when rabbit glue was a finishing technique of choice…I think lucky for me I only had one piece finished this way. And funny thing about this piece was it went to Hawaii with a friend, and within a few months started to disintegrate. She took the piece to local framer and he knew exactly what was wrong with it and also told her rabbit glue drew bugs. Well, I re- stitched her another piece but it was a lesson learned…no rabbit glue ever. Here are my older books and I refer to them but if investing I would go for the newer ones.

14-06-12 old booksBlocking and Finishing and More Needlework Blocking and Finishing by Dorothy Burchette

Finishing and Mounting Your Needlepoint Pieces by Katharine Ireys.

I have a notebook of finishing information a have gathered from various other sources, sometimes finishing instructions came with needlepoint, sometime I read a magazine article…and have even written some myself for guild projects.
14-06-12 Singer bookI also have many of the Singer Sewing books I plan on referring too also. The Singer books you can find on Amazon, Ebay or probably at local used book store for next to nothing.

I have a blocking board, Maries14-06-12 blocking board Products 4 square blocker; it came with these nails for blocking. My builder told me
they are roofing nails because they won’t rust.  Edie used a Marie Products board (maybe that’s when I got 14-06-12 nailsmine and am not sure where to get today) and Sandy suggests a pine wood board.  I have known people who block on their ironing board very successfully.

BUT you need to block needlework, it just looks nicer! I try not to wet my needlepoint either but if I have to mist, I do so with my blocking board lying flat with an old towel beneath it.  I don’t know how I feel about washing needlepoint. I have never had to do this but I would be careful about threads bleeding.

Supplies vary from project to project and next time I will list some of the things I think are essential in a sewing finishing box.

As I was tiding up my office I found three more pieces to add to the needs finishing projects.  I am going to stop moving things around; out of sight, out of mind works for me…This new project may get overwhelming.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today! ttfn…sue