Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Making of a D-I-Y-er

I blame my parents, my father in particular. As a kid, when I wanted something, his stock answer was, "Make it."

How I despised that answer! Maybe I didn't think I could make it; maybe I didn't want to take the time to make it. Whatever it was, I didn't want to make it even if I could. I wanted it new, from the store, now.

But guess what: That "make it" answer stuck. I heard it so often it grew into me. It was reinforced by my parents' crafty natures. My mother made our clothes. My father could whip up a Halloween costume like nobody's business. Our dining room table became Craft Central while we made holiday ornaments for neighbors and friends.

It can surprise no one that I became an extreme D-I-Y-er. When something needs to be done, my first thought is, "How do I do it?"

Move three tons of dirt and gravel with a shovel and 5-gallon buckets? Okay.

Build a house? Of course.

Wire it for electricity? Sure. Let me read this book first.

Grow food for a year? Uh-huh.

Frame this cross stitch piece? No problem.

In the Beginning

After designing and stitching Termination Dust and The Great Outdoors, I asked my mother to help me frame them. She'd just taken a framing class—she had artwork of her own to frame—which gave her access to a framing studio with tools and supplies. We spent a long time choosing colors, cutting mats and glass, cutting and assembling the frames. It was great fun and a great learning experience. I love the results, warts and all.

When I began selling cross stitch patterns, I continued to finish my needlework myself...most of the time. I have taken a few pieces to professional framers. It's all good! Over time, I developed my favorite techniques (I prefer lacing my embroidery to the mounting board), but I also love to experiment and learn new things. I think my priorities are

  1. Do it myself
  2. Do it differently; i.e., in some interesting or unique way

When Problems Arise: Get Creative

Let's be honest, things don't always go smoothly in D-I-Y.

I once stitched a birth sampler with the fabric turned the wrong direction. The long side of the fabric should have been horizontal, and I had it vertical. I was well into the stitching before I discovered my mistake. (Yeah—du-uh!) You know the choices: I could stop stitching and start over, or I could deal with it. I chose the latter.

There wasn't enough fabric to frame the piece "properly." This isn't a unique problem—be honest, have you ever skimped on the amount of fabric you left around the border of your needlework? The fix for this is to sew a fabric (muslin is a good choice) border around the edge to provide enough fabric to work with, so that was my plan. In the end, I skipped the plain muslin and chose a quilting calico that could double as the mat. I added ribbon on the seam just for fun.

D-I-Y Framing Online Class

I've always enjoyed finishing as much as stitching, whether it's framing, edge stitching, quilting, pillow making, or something else. The more I stitch, the more I want to explore different finishes and uses for needlework.

I asked fellow stitchers what they need most help with, and the answer was, overwhelmingly, finishing. Well all right then; let's do some finishing!

The first Finish It In '14 class is D-I-Y Framing, and it begins on February 3, 2014. We will learn the following:

  • How to clean, block, and press embroidery
  • How to mount embroidery to a backing
  • How to choose and/or make a mat—or not
  • How to choose and/or make a frame
  • Whether to use glass or not
  • How to finish the back side and add hardware

Four written lessons will be delivered weekly, giving you plenty of time to read and execute them. You can download the pdfs so you have them for future use. You'll be able to ask questions and share photos in a private Yahoo! group, so you can get help with your particular projects. We'll discuss creative mat and frame options and get tips from pros.

Did I mention we'll have some fun, too? Of course we will!

Win a Free Front-Row Seat in the Class!

Want to win a spot in the class? We're giving one away!

Leave a comment with your most pressing question about finishing embroidery.

The random number generator will pick a winner on January 25th.

A Word of Caution

Lest you think my father's repeated suggestion to "make it" was a brilliant idea that you're tempted to adopt, I think you should be warned. In general, I'm grateful for the self-sufficiency my father instilled in me with his annoying answer, but in the deep recesses of my adult being, there's still a little girl who feels deprived. She says, "Just wait, Dad, until you need surgery for something. Surely there's a how-to book or tutorial online for that. Give me a sec, and I'll be right with you."

Proceed with caution.


Don't forget to leave a comment with your most pressing needlework finishing question for a chance to win a free spot in the D-I-Y Framing class!


Anonymous said...

I would love to learn how to float mount/frame a piece of neeldework. Please enter me in the drawing.
Julie Harvey

Phyllis said...

I always have a problem centering the needlework...would love to learn some new tips.

Nana V said...

I have several "professionally" framed pieces that are slightly off-center. Can they be recentered using the same mats and frame?

JenFW said...

Nana V, I would say yes, they can be re-centered. You might be able to oonch them over in the frame if there's space and they're just a little, but it might be necessary to re-mount the embroidery on the backing. As long as it's not stuck on the backing board, it shouldn't be too hard.

That's my 2-cents having not actually seen the pieces.

Unknown said...

I have a piece that I stitched on for over a year off and on and it has some what I assume is just skin oils on it. Any suggestions on cleaning?

Tara said...

I would like to know how to determine the needed frame gully depth for mats, glass, spacers, etc. Thanks for the drawing opportunity.

onemore4gsus said...

My most pressing finishing question would be, What steps do you take to make your stitching the brightest and cleanest before you move to the finishing phase?

Anonymous said...

How much "special" equipment do you need to cut mat boards? In fact, just how much specialized equipment do you really need to start framing your own things?

Linda said...

I have difficulty choosing glass/no glass when framing my needlework. Hoping to win this drawing!

JenFW said...

Ah, Anonymous, there's a question near and dear to my heart!

I would say you need no special equipment to start framing your embroidery provided you're willing to be creative. But, then, I'm kind of a queen of Make Do!

Sara said...

I think my question and the hardest part (because I never reach to the next stage) for me is how to block the stitching piece? I've tried a couple of times but it seems I can never get my fabric as taut as it should be and centered at the same time, I end up giving them to someone else to do it for me and they end up framing it as well (as it's either my father or professionally done)
Thanks :)

JenFW said...

Steve and onemore4gsus, choosing how to clean a piece requires answering several questions about the materials used and whether they were rinsed or pre-washed prior to stitching.

The very short answer is that many embroideries can be washed in cold water with mild soap like Orvus (sold as Fabri-Care and Quilt Soap, among other things), Ivory Snow, or Dawn dishwashing liquid, but test threads for colorfastness first. Don't scrub. Let the piece soak while the soap does its job.

Carita Rosebeary said...

Honestly the whole idea of finishing and framing scares me a little. After all the hours spent on a piece, I want it to look great, but mine seem to all too often fall short. I have heard of blocking, but don't really know what it is or how to do it. And I have also heard of lacing, which seems to be the british way of finishing since it is illustrated in all the mags I get from the UK. Are these just two different methods to achieve the same result? And which is better?

Kathy said...

I am desperate for a class on finishing. I'm scared to death to attempt any of it by myself. Your class sounds wonderful!

5 Foot Runt said...

I would love to learn how to frame on my own. So many possibilities!

Faith... said...

I would like to know what is the point of lacing your pieces and how do you do it? I have seen people talking about it on FB and I don’t get it. Also – are you supposed to use glass? I have heard arguments for both sides – which of course makes me even more confused! Also…what kind of material do you put your piece on? I have always used those sticky boards and now people are saying that is not good for the stitched pieces. HELP ME…I am soooo confused!

Laura in SP said...

I have tried framing some of my smaller pieces, and I have had difficulty making them even--not just centering, but also making them straight. Is there a trick I should be doing when I lace?

Carole T Martin said...

What is the best way to lace the needlework and what supplies are used? I would love to learn the proper way to frame my needlework. Winning a place in this class would be awesome!


Anonymous said...

I do not have anything on my walls. I did save all the frames when a relative moved to a new style in life. I have metal from the 50-60 ties, wood from the 80 ties, expencive and 4letter store frames, and all in different sizes and shapes. I may have to put something on my walls now, or embellish the frames with gifts? I have no idea. So i am looking forward to the diy to get ideas. Hang jewlery on them? Make a white board for whipe off markers of the big glass item and have an embroidery piece in The back? Or photos? I like Jen FW's finishing : sew the embroidery onto a jacket. Make a tiny pocket for my phone? But this is a mix of ideas for projects and has only a fraction to do with frame finishing, sorry about that. Harriet, Norway

Pam Koontz said...

I have attempted to frame a few smaller pieces and they came out ok, but I would love to learn how to properly lace the fabric and cut the mats. Hubby can make the frames since he's a carpenter! But my lacing attempts have ended up being slightly off-center or a little crooked. I don't think I'm doing it right! I would so love this class, but I can't afford it right now.

Anonymous said...

I would love to learn the correct way to lace. Also, I have a stash of frames from garage sales, etc that I would love some ideas on how to use them in ways that my piece would fit into them. I would love the opportunity to win.
Thank you.
Judy in Kansas

Helen said...

I always have problems with mitered corners - hopefully you can help. Also need help with how to have a space between the needlework and and glass when I have to use a glass to cover project.

Hopefully you can help.

Helen in MI

Helen said...

I always have problems with mitered corners - hopefully you can help. Also need help with how to have a space between the needlework and and glass when I have to use a glass to cover project.

Hopefully you can help.

Helen in MI