Sunday, September 6, 2015

She chose down? - A thing I just learned about setting up new embroidery.

I've been dabbling with embroidery of various sorts since I was a kid but I recently got back into cross stitch after a looooong hiatus. I remembered most of the basics but I spent a lot of time poking around the internet to flesh out setup details and see how other people did things.

One of the things I specifically looked for was the best way to set up the fabric on a frame or hoop for stitching and in particular -

Why do some people set up their canvas "underneath" the frame/hoop - is there an advantage to this?

I couldn't find anything to suggest an advantage either way, and I found the most pics of people working "over" so I set up my recent pieces to match.

Now that I've found the answer to my question completely by random chance on a Facebook Cross Stiching page I'm switching up what I do with cross stitching and sharing the tip. Working underneath fixes a problem I find REALLY annoying and hopefully having this info handy will help others.

The main issue I find with working over the top is that when I get too close to the frame/hoop it's REALLY hard to maneuver the needle under threads horizontally. This isn't a problem for up and down stitching like in cross stitch, but it's a really big problem if you want to run the needle under previous stitches to finish off a thread and you are very close to the frame.

Ever hit up against this? Pulling that needle through would be SO ANNOYING!
You never work horizontally on the face of the embroidery when you are cross stitching so this will never be a problem if you work with the top of your piece in the ditch.
Y.M.M.V. if you're working a different style of needlework, but there are a couple of other advantages as well so unless I was doing a LOT of tight horizontal work (like in attaching Shisha mirrors for example) I would probably continue working this way.

The second BIG advantage is that the projecting frame will help keep your top hand up off of the face of canvas so it will help keep the top of the piece a lot cleaner. Also: if you drop your frame or your pet/spouse/child bumps against it - the fabric which is most exposed on the edge is the underside of your work instead of the top.

A third potential advantage is that the well created by the frame projecting upward could be handy to keep working items nearby. You can rest items like scissors or a pattern right on the piece with you, though I *personally* would be really careful with this. Given *my* luck my scissors would open up and cut threads, or the ink from the pattern would transfer onto the fabric, or something similarly Murphy's Law-ish. Even if I don't make active use of it I can't even express the number of times this could have saved me from stopping everything to move my work off of my lap so I could pick up a a needle or threader which just joyfully rolled off the working surface and on to the floor.

I have a large-ish piece (around 11x15 inches) I've been working on for a bit that I have on stretcher bars and after finding out about this I'm SERIOUSLY considering un-mounting the whole thing and re-mounting it underneath the bars.

(2 am edit: I did it after I got back from dinner and I regret nothing!)

Anyway, I hope having this info out and about helps someone because I know I'm TOTALLY taking advantage of it.

Bonus thing - How to tell the front from the back on a piece of woven fabric:
(as much for my future reference as for yours)
"Hold the fabric by opposite corners and pull gently. If the fabric forms a "valley" between two "hills", that is the right or front side. If it forms a single "hill", that is the back. The front side is smoother than the back. However, it really makes no difference which side you stitch on unless it is a printed fabric."

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