A primer on needlepoint: prep work

Prepping a canvas

Mono canvas with masking tape on edge to stop fraying.

Mono canvas with masking tape on edge to stop fraying.

People nowadays often cover the edge of the canvas with masking tape or use a frame similar to an embroidery hoop. This stops the canvas from unravelling as you stitch it. Also, if the edges are bare, they sort of scrape the side of your hand and that can be irritating. Although sometimes I find the tape irritating, and so give that up too. If you use untaped or unframed canvas, your stitches may be a little wonky and the edges of the canvas unravel a bit. You can cope with this by making sure you leave a good sized margin (say at least two inches) of bare canvas around your design and by blocking your embroidery after it’s finished.

Getting your design on the canvas

Paper gridded pattern. Or at least paper as soon as it's printed.

Paper gridded pattern. Or at least paper as soon as it’s printed. Click on the image to go to a pdf of the design.

Canvas can be bought either blank or painted. Painted is the more common now, which makes it easier to stitch up, but is a less artistic endeavor. It looks fancy, but is sort of a paint-by-numbers fancy. This is the most expensive and least creative way to go. However, it was common in the past (I’m talking 1500 or so) to just do an outline on the canvas, turning it into a color book type image for the embroiderer to fill in. And you can always take blank canvas and just go for it. You can also use a gridded paper pattern (or on your favorite electronic device, if so inclined) to represent the design. I usually do the gridded paper pattern. Although sometimes I just go for it.

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