Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Let's Talk - Stretcher Bars

We have a new stitcher.  She's actually a returning stitcher but it's been many years.  Things have changed!  Oh my have they changed.

We aren't stitching with persian yarn any more, and only using one stitch, or horror of horrors, just stitching a background.  It really is a wonder the art survived when all you could do was a brown background.

I thought I would do a series of blog posts on the basics in her honor. I'll file these away in their own section of the blog Tidbits and Techniques so if you want to refer to them you can.  Who knows, you too may have a friend returning to stitching.

Lets talk stretcher bars.

Stretcher bars are pretty magical.  Learning to stitch on them will improve your game.  Your stitching will instantly look neater and prettier.  What's not to love about that?  You will fuss and complain for the first few days until you get used to them.  But once you do, oh my!  Your stitching will look so much neater.

No more needlepoint that is warped and funny looking. 

There are even some stitches that you can only execute if you have your canvas on stretcher bars.  There's really a lot good to be said about stretcher bars.

We love evertite stretcher bars.  Yes, they are heavier than other bars, but they last and they hold your needlepoint super tight.

You start with 4 bars, you need to make a square.  The bars are sold in pairs at 1 inch increments.

Evertite stretcher bars have screws at each end.  This is where the magic starts to happen.  At each end of a bar the screw sticks out on one side and is inset on the other.

You want to push the bars together forming 90 degree angles for each corner of the frame.  The screw that was sticking out needs to be buried in the corner.  if it's not, your threads will get caught with every stitch.

Put the bars together so that they are smooth.

Once the frame is assembled push each corner into a window or door frame to square it up.  We'll assume the door frame is square.

Now it's time to start pinning the canvas on the frame.  We like to start with one tack centered at North, South, East and West.


Continue adding tacks  keeping the canvas flat and straight.  Put tacks on one side of the frame and then the opposite.  As much as possible you want the grain of your canvas to run along the edge of the frame.  That ensures it is straight.

Continue adding tacks until the entire canvas is secure.  You don't have to pull super tight at this point.  Straight is more important than taught right now.

Remember those screws in the corners.  There are two in each corner, a total of 8 on a frame.  Using your T Tool, insert it into the hole on one bar's end.  Start turning the screws in each corner until they touch the opposing bar.  All 8 screws should just touch the opposite bar.   Make sure you are still square.

Are you ready for magic?  Starting in any corner, turn your T Tool one or two complete revolutions.  Move to the next screw and turn it the same number of turns.  Continue with all 8 screws.  As long as you turn all 8 screws the same number of turns your frame will stay square.  You don't want a trapezoid.

Turn as many times as you need to in each corner until your canvas is nice and tight.

If the cat sits on your stitching or you lean your needlepoint against something and things get a little loose, get out your T Tool and tighten all the corners.

Magic, I'm telling you it's magic.  Your frame expands under your needlepoint to tighten it.  Why didn't I think of that?

More tidbits and techniques will follow.


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