It should not be necessary to square, or straighten, a finished needlepoint kit. Canvas is a loosely woven cloth and it can go in any direction when worked upon. Here’s the secret to keeping a canvas square while working on it:
It must be fixed on a needlepoint frame. The canvas must be as tight as a drum. Second, always pull the needle straight up and then straight down. Never pull the needle towards you as you would in embroidery or sewing. Never put a needle in a hole and out another hole in the same movement, as in sewing. One movement up, one movement down. To do this, you use two hands, one on top of the canvas, one underneath.
Remember, needlepoint is the art of weaving on canvas!
Gold and silver threads have been used on tapestries for centuries. During the Middle Ages it was used extensively to highlight the clothing of the most important people in the tapestry. Unfortunately these metal threads have become oxidized throughout the ages and today in many hangings the most important people (such as the Renaissance hangings of David and Bathsheba at Ecouen, in France) have become the dullest because the gold and silver have turned sadly gray. But if you absolutely adore gold and silver and you don’t care if it tarnishes in a couple of centuries, here’s what you do:
You can choose one of two methods:
Worked on monifil canvas. Use thick thread. If you stitch several figures, there should be a square left in the center of each set of four figures; stitch a cabochon to cover the square space. Covers the canvas very well.
Instructions for reading the diagrams below:
Use the illustration as a guide.
On the image with numbers: Start with #1.
Come up through #1, Go into #2, come up through #3, co into #4, and so on...
Without a frame it is not possible to stitch correctly.
With the canvas held securely by the frame, both hands are free to stitch. Canvas is stiffened and quickly becomes limp if held with the hands. It loses its shape and the stitches then pull the canvas in the wrong direction and in the end, you have a crooked piece of work with uneven stitches. A hand held canvas can also unravel on the sides.
So, here’s the correct way: sew or clasp the canvas unto a frame and tighten the canvas as much as possible so that it looks as tight as a drum. Then you can marry the wool to the canvas in perfect symbiosis as in this design. It’s also much more fun to work!
It is preferable to use a fine wool.
This makes it possible to combine colours in the same needleful. More important, by adding or subtracting wool strands, you can vary the thickness of stitches on the same canvas. For example, you can stitch on the same canvas a cross stitch using four or five strands, and a quarter stitch (petit point) using just one or two strands. A fine wool yarn, then, allows great diversity in colour and kind of stitch.
Verify that your tapestry is perfectly squared.
Lay your cushion fabric (preferably a heavier rather than a lighter fabric, for example, velvet or a linen, etc.) right side up on the table. Lay on top of the fabric your tapestry right side face down. Baste the fabric onto the tapestry right against the wool so that no canvas shows when you turn it inside out after stitching. Leave on the bottom center of the tapestry a space big enough to turn it out and to fill it later. Sew using forward and back stitches, or use a sewing machine with a special foot allowing no space possible beyond the wool. It is important that no bare canvas show.
After you have finished sewing, cut extra fabric and canvas all around about an inch beyond the seam. Turn the cushion inside out, being careful not to tear the seam on either side of the hole. With your fingers go inside the cushion and smooth the seam all around, pushing it out to form a nice straight edge. Stuff with kapok or any stuffing you like. Close up the hole carefully, using small stitches in such a way as to make them invisible. For that purpose, try not to make the hole too big to start with. You can then sew braiding all around the cushion if you wish.
Monofil (or unifil) canvas:
Monofil is used for basketweave or tent stitch or generally all stitches which are slanted or on a diagonal. The holes are square, close together and the canvas is thick. It is then preferable not to work straight stitches on such a canvas because the canvas thread shows up in between the stitches. Recommended for chairs, stools, etc.
Penelope canvas (or double):
Needlepoint is back! It is the craft of royalty. It can be used by decorators as well as anyone wishing to make an impact in decoration. www.Bucherie.com furnishes real authentic French needlepoint. www.Bucherie.com has a large choice of designs of all French styles for covers for seats, armchairs, banquettes, anything you can imagine, etc. They can also reproduce a design you furnish.
It's an excellent online resource!
Here is the ultimate "How to" book for anyone serious about needlepoint crafts.
Needlepointers of all skill levels will find this book an outstanding source of inspiration and helpful instructions. Starting with detailed instruction of technique, basic preparation, discussion of basic preparation and choice of materials, the author proceeds to give clear, concise directions for 99 different needlepoint stitches, both basic and decorative. Photographs and excellent diagrams complete this informative manual.
This book can be purchased online.