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Tips & Techniques

Crossing the Finish Line

We all know the thrill of starting a new project, but that thrill cannot compare with the excitement that comes when those last stitches are added to a project. We have watched it come to life before our eyes, and it's finally finished. Now what?

Yes, the next order should be starting a new project or finishing the next one on the partially stitched project list, but let's focus on our newly completed project. How do we prep it for whatever comes next?

Here are a few steps and tips for readying it for the next step.

  1. Double-check your work. Make sure all stitches are crossed, backstitches are in place, and motifs are stitched or completed. There are few things in stitching that are more frustrating than "finishing" a project only to find that an edge was missed or a few stitches uncrossed. So, double-check your project against your pattern and against what you envisioned as a finished project.
  2. Check threads on the back of the project and trim or weave under loose ends.
  3. Check for any dirt or stains. When working on a project, be very vigilant about cleanliness. Wash your hands, be careful when drinking or eating around the stitching, and never ever leave a project in the hoop when not stitching. Hopefully, laundering will not be necessary, but if it is, or if you just prefer to launder your stitched pieces, follow these steps.
    1. Verify that all products used are colorfast and safe to wash.
    2. Test all threads and fabrics before laundering the entire project. Some dark colors, especially red, can run even when they claim to be colorfast, so check those threads before washing to make sure they won't run. If they do run, I would suggest not washing the project at all; you can spot-clean it if necessary, but be VERY careful. If you choose not to launder, which is my preference, proceed to step 4.
    3. Use ONLY cold water to wash your needlework and watch carefully for any color running. If detergent is necessary, the recommended needlework detergent is Orvus (aka FabriCare), which is a gentle detergent originally formulated for use on horses and pets, but it works beautifully for needlework. Several online retailers sell smaller tubs, or you can check pet or farm supply stores.
    4. Use distilled water if you have hard water or well water.
    5. Prerinse your stitched design under running water. Then place it in a pan of cold, soapy water and gently wash. Never wring, scrub or be rough with the stitched design.
    6. Rinse project in cold water at least 3 or 4 times. Allow the water to drip from the piece; do not wring at all.
    7. Place the wet project on a clean, dry terry cloth towel and cover with a second clean, dry towel. Carefully roll the project between towels and gently press each roll. Unroll and remove the project; repeat as necessary to remove excess water.
    8. You can iron the damp project carefully at this point as well. Place it facedown on a dry towel and press with iron on low and steam off. Do not try to iron the piece dry; just iron it enough to remove wrinkles. Lay flat to finish drying.
  4. Check for frayed fabric threads along edges; trim carefully, staying with the grain of the fabric.
  5. Ironing: If the project was laundered successfully with no color running, you can iron it freely and with steam to eliminate wrinkles. If you chose not to launder it, follow the tips above to make sure steam is appropriate. If not, or you are the least bit unsure, use a dry iron only. Wrinkles will not come out as easily with a dry iron, but they will come out with a bit more effort. Take care not to leave the iron on one spot too long as it can scorch and change the colors. And ALWAYS iron the reverse side of the piece. Note: Always inspect your iron before pressing needlework; clean the iron plate if necessary and always press a test piece before ironing the stitched design.

Note: Extra caution is required for projects that include beads, buttons, charms, etc. My recommendation would be to add these AFTER laundering and ironing out wrinkles. Add embellishments and gently press again as necessary.

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