Finishing


Finishing Tips


Perhaps before we talk about finishing, we should take a moment to address what needlepoint actually is. I know this might be redundant for many of you, but I want new stitchers to feel as welcome as they can in the shop and with needlepoint.  


Finishing Tips


Perhaps before we talk about finishing, we should take a moment to address what needlepoint actually is. I know this might be redundant for many of you, but I want new stitchers to feel as welcome as they can in the shop and with needlepoint.  


What is Needlepoint?

Needlepoint is a kind of needlework where a variety of stitching with thread is done on a stiff, open weave canvas. The canvas can be pre-painted, or the stitching can be done counted or freeform but at its most basic level, needlepoint is a relaxing, creative endeavor that yields items that can be both beautiful and functional. 

 

Selecting a Needlepoint Canvas

When you select a canvas, it’s a good idea to have a sense of what you want to do with the completed project. You might make a patch, a pillow, a framed piece of art, shoes, a holiday ornament, a coaster, a standup tray, a wall hanging…the possibilities are almost endless. 


Knowing the future purpose of a piece in the beginning will help you plan appropriately, as you select the best threads and stitches for the project.  Thread choices vary, and they matter (use wool for coasters, and silk blend for an ornament, for example). If you have a 4” round that you want as a 12” pillow, you need to map out how to achieve your goal.  You may not want embellished stitches that can snag on a key fob that will be handled with some frequency.  This is a good time to talk to your LNS (Local Needlepoint Shop) about what finishing needs your piece might have. He or she can guide you in the right direction and tell you what their finisher’s specifications and timelines are.

 

You have chosen a canvas that inspires you, selected beautiful threads, and you’ve even successfully stitched the project. What next?  This is where finishing comes in. Finishing is the conversion of your needlepoint art into an end product that can be decorative and/or functional. 


Finishing Basics

  • Stretcher bars or no stretcher bars? I am a fan of stretcher bars.  I understand why people don’t use them, but they help retain the shape of your project.  This can cut down the blocking time.  If you regularly finish with a rhombus vs a rectangle on many of your projects, you may want to consider stretcher bars.
  • In most cases with some exceptions, you do not need to add extra stitches for finishing.   Please ask your shop or finisher about adding extra stitches.
  • For most belts and key fobs, you should add binding stitches.
  • If a self-finishing item, we can finish or you can do yourself.  You don’t need to stitch extra space, but you want to make sure it fits the size of the piece.
  • You can provide your own fabric, but not every finisher’s machine will work with it. This is something to ask the shop at the beginning of your project.  Or send a sample of the fabric to give the finisher an idea of what you’d like.  
  • It helps to provide a sense of style/color of what you want.  And talk about how it will be used - a pillow in a tv room might be used more than a pillow for a living room.  A tooth fairy pillow will be used for only a few years (if we are lucky!), but it is usually in a child’s room or in their bed.
  • Review your stitching with a magnifier to make sure you haven’t missed a stitch.  Bring leftover project threads to the finisher in case of emergency stitching to fill in if you’ve missed a stitch or two.  
  • The backs of our canvases don’t need to be perfect, but they do need to be somewhat flat for finishing.  If you need help with flattening out your threads, talk to your LNS about waste knots and starting threads.  It can mean a world of difference.
  • If you are stitching a piece that is an unusual shape, please clarify with your finisher or LNS whether you need a background stitch or how they will finish the unusual sides.  Typically, if there are spots on the canvas that are one - two stitches wide, it can create bulk when finishing.  Some finishers need a background stitch to avoid the bulk.
  • If you bead right up to the edge of the canvas, you may want to confirm with the finisher or LNS as to whether you need background stitching.  Our finishers need the stitches underneath or aside the beads for finishing.
  • Make sure you know how your finisher ships items so there is traceability.  If you ship to your finisher, put every piece into a separate plastic ziplock type  in order to protect from the elements.  We had a shopper recently ship her pieces all together in a box that was likely dropped in a puddle and delivered to us wet - heartbreakingly unsalvageable.  Please do not use old grocery bags - their logos can run if they are wet.
  • Make sure your finisher can finish the canvas or cross stitch piece - not every finisher works with every type of canvas.


Please keep in mind that with our current COVID-19 world, some fabrics are unavailable because of factory closures and travel restrictions.  Your finisher or LNS should contact you if that is the case.



Phrases You Will Hear When Discussing Finishing


Blocking

Blocking is the method used to restore your finished canvas’s shape.  Many finishers will block before finishing.  This often helps spruce up your stitches too.


Cording  

Cording ties your piece cleanly together.  You can use welting from the fabric for a pillow or include your threads to tie the piece all together.   You don’t need to supply these materials unless you wish to include them.


Fabric Selection

You will be asked about silk, velvet, suede or patterned materials for the backing of your piece.  Many finishers can embroider initials or a message onto the fabric.  Not every finisher will provide samples for you to see - but do ask your shop or finisher.


Pillow Selection

You will be asked about box pillow or knife edge, whether you want a border, about  cording/welting, and about pillow firmness.  You may be asked about using a zipper to be able to add or remove stuffing.


Holiday Stocking Options 

You select fabric for both the backing and inside of the stocking, cording/welting and how you want the hanging loop.  


If you have not personalized your stocking already, you may want to consider stitching a small ornament with initials or a name to attach to the stocking.  This gives you some flexibility.


Ornament options  

You will select fabric, cording, size, firmness, box shape / gusset, or  hanging loop or hanger.   You may be asked about the drop of the hanging loop,  because you may need a longer hanging loop for a door knob vs a holiday tree ornament.


Standup Options

Standups are popular around each holiday.  You will be asked about fabric and cording as with other projects, but here, you can talk with your shop and finisher about being creative.  Do you want a flat bottom or with feet, how thick do you want to make something and what do you envision.  You may have a discussion with the finisher about weight to ensure the piece stands up well.  Larger pieces might be trickier to finish depending on how the finisher uses weights to ensure the piece stands up.


Tray

You will select the material - acrylic or wooden insert. In some cases, especially with the acrylic pieces, your piece will be finished and then inserted, so you will be asked questions about finishing, similar to an ornament.


Patch

You will be asked about cording and the placement of your piece on clothing or a bag.  Bags can be tricky for finishers since they can be thicker than regular fabrics.  I know others may disagree, but in my opinion it is ok to use glue to adhere a piece onto a bag or clothing.  


Other Projects

There are so many other ways to use needlepoint, including the list below.  Each piece will vary in terms of questions asked about materials you prefer to use

-wreaths

-rugs

-picture frames

-bean bags

-coaster

-stuffed animals

-bricks

-wall hangings

-flip flops

-clutches/purses/cosmetic bags

-shoes

-clothing patches

-eyeglass cases (single or double sided)


Cost of Finishing

We recognize that needlepoint is an expensive hobby.  Finishing is also pricey, but here is what goes into those costs.


Time/Labor

Materials 

Expertise


Certain projects take more time depending on the complexity of the piece.  More time means more hours for the finisher, plus more materials you may need. Some materials are pricier than others.  If you are finishing canvas with open stitches, you may need extra lining to cover the backside.  This all adds up.


Finishers are experts for us. They provide us a service to make our stitching into the final art form we envision.  When we pay for finishing, we are paying for their time, materials and frankly, for their knowledge.  Most finishers have seen it all and can work with us.


Please encourage others to go into finishing.  Home economics isn’t a part of many school curricula any longer - which means that fiber artists and sewers are taught through family and friend connections.  This is wonderful, but we may have missed a generation of stitchers and finishers as a result.  



This can be tricky work, but it is creative and rewarding.  There are so many options, but there aren’t enough finishers to keep up with demand.  


Please speak up with questions about cost when bringing in finishing.  This is a service that shops provide, but no shop wants you to be kept in the dark, expense-wise.  Most shops will give you a price range.  Or you can ask what the typical expense for a certain type of project is. 


Typical cost of finishing - this is all dependent on labor, materials, etc:

-basic ornaments start $65

-stockings start $200

-standups start $75

-frogs/animals start $90

-small pillows start $100, price increases by size

-belt start $90

-key fob start $60

-blocking starts $25



Why Things Take Time in Finishing


  • Everyone has been stitching!  Due to the pandemic, people have had some time on their hands. In some cases customers are dropping off 8-10 items at a time!
  • There aren’t enough finishers – we need more people in the industry.  Home economics isn’t taught with the same frequency, or at all, as when we were in school.  
  • It has been difficult to source fabric and threads – some materials are limited by country of origin.  Factories have been closed because of COVID but now, for example in Italy, even though the factories are open, they traditionally take off the month of August.

 

Expected Timelines

You should expect a minimum of 6 weeks finishing time. Lately, the timeline has hovered around 12 weeks, in some cases. Due to a shortage of finishers, I recently had the experience of a 6 month wait for some products. 


POPPYPOINTE Deadline

As a reminder, our deadline is August 12. We will not be accepting anything after that date.  We do not store anything in the shop until finishers re-open again.  If you ship something to us after our deadlines, we will return them to you at your expense.  For holidays other than Halloween, Christmas and Hanukkah, please anticipate 6-8 weeks for most finishing projects in 2021.    



Whether you are planning your first project or are a seasoned stitcher, I hope you’ve found this information helpful.  We will be posting more onto the blog in the coming months.  


Happy stitching!  



What is Needlepoint?

Needlepoint is a kind of needlework where a variety of stitching with thread is done on a stiff, open weave canvas. The canvas can be pre-painted, or the stitching can be done counted or freeform but at its most basic level, needlepoint is a relaxing, creative endeavor that yields items that can be both beautiful and functional. 

 

Selecting a Needlepoint Canvas

When you select a canvas, it’s a good idea to have a sense of what you want to do with the completed project. You might make a patch, a pillow, a framed piece of art, shoes, a holiday ornament, a coaster, a standup tray, a wall hanging…the possibilities are almost endless. 


Knowing the future purpose of a piece in the beginning will help you plan appropriately, as you select the best threads and stitches for the project.  Thread choices vary, and they matter (use wool for coasters, and silk blend for an ornament, for example). If you have a 4” round that you want as a 12” pillow, you need to map out how to achieve your goal.  You may not want embellished stitches that can snag on a key fob that will be handled with some frequency.  This is a good time to talk to your LNS (Local Needlepoint Shop) about what finishing needs your piece might have. He or she can guide you in the right direction and tell you what their finisher’s specifications and timelines are.

 

You have chosen a canvas that inspires you, selected beautiful threads, and you’ve even successfully stitched the project. What next?  This is where finishing comes in. Finishing is the conversion of your needlepoint art into an end product that can be decorative and/or functional. 


Finishing Basics

  • Stretcher bars or no stretcher bars? I am a fan of stretcher bars.  I understand why people don’t use them, but they help retain the shape of your project.  This can cut down the blocking time.  If you regularly finish with a rhombus vs a rectangle on many of your projects, you may want to consider stretcher bars.
  • In most cases with some exceptions, you do not need to add extra stitches for finishing.   Please ask your shop or finisher about adding extra stitches.
  • For most belts and key fobs, you should add binding stitches.
  • If a self-finishing item, we can finish or you can do yourself.  You don’t need to stitch extra space, but you want to make sure it fits the size of the piece.
  • You can provide your own fabric, but not every finisher’s machine will work with it. This is something to ask the shop at the beginning of your project.  Or send a sample of the fabric to give the finisher an idea of what you’d like.  
  • It helps to provide a sense of style/color of what you want.  And talk about how it will be used - a pillow in a tv room might be used more than a pillow for a living room.  A tooth fairy pillow will be used for only a few years (if we are lucky!), but it is usually in a child’s room or in their bed.
  • Review your stitching with a magnifier to make sure you haven’t missed a stitch.  Bring leftover project threads to the finisher in case of emergency stitching to fill in if you’ve missed a stitch or two.  
  • The backs of our canvases don’t need to be perfect, but they do need to be somewhat flat for finishing.  If you need help with flattening out your threads, talk to your LNS about waste knots and starting threads.  It can mean a world of difference.
  • If you are stitching a piece that is an unusual shape, please clarify with your finisher or LNS whether you need a background stitch or how they will finish the unusual sides.  Typically, if there are spots on the canvas that are one - two stitches wide, it can create bulk when finishing.  Some finishers need a background stitch to avoid the bulk.
  • If you bead right up to the edge of the canvas, you may want to confirm with the finisher or LNS as to whether you need background stitching.  Our finishers need the stitches underneath or aside the beads for finishing.
  • Make sure you know how your finisher ships items so there is traceability.  If you ship to your finisher, put every piece into a separate plastic ziplock type  in order to protect from the elements.  We had a shopper recently ship her pieces all together in a box that was likely dropped in a puddle and delivered to us wet - heartbreakingly unsalvageable.  Please do not use old grocery bags - their logos can run if they are wet.
  • Make sure your finisher can finish the canvas or cross stitch piece - not every finisher works with every type of canvas.


Please keep in mind that with our current COVID-19 world, some fabrics are unavailable because of factory closures and travel restrictions.  Your finisher or LNS should contact you if that is the case.



Phrases You Will Hear When Discussing Finishing


Blocking

Blocking is the method used to restore your finished canvas’s shape.  Many finishers will block before finishing.  This often helps spruce up your stitches too.


Cording  

Cording ties your piece cleanly together.  You can use welting from the fabric for a pillow or include your threads to tie the piece all together.   You don’t need to supply these materials unless you wish to include them.


Fabric Selection

You will be asked about silk, velvet, suede or patterned materials for the backing of your piece.  Many finishers can embroider initials or a message onto the fabric.  Not every finisher will provide samples for you to see - but do ask your shop or finisher.


Pillow Selection

You will be asked about box pillow or knife edge, whether you want a border, about  cording/welting, and about pillow firmness.  You may be asked about using a zipper to be able to add or remove stuffing.


Holiday Stocking Options 

You select fabric for both the backing and inside of the stocking, cording/welting and how you want the hanging loop.  


If you have not personalized your stocking already, you may want to consider stitching a small ornament with initials or a name to attach to the stocking.  This gives you some flexibility.


Ornament options  

You will select fabric, cording, size, firmness, box shape / gusset, or  hanging loop or hanger.   You may be asked about the drop of the hanging loop,  because you may need a longer hanging loop for a door knob vs a holiday tree ornament.


Standup Options

Standups are popular around each holiday.  You will be asked about fabric and cording as with other projects, but here, you can talk with your shop and finisher about being creative.  Do you want a flat bottom or with feet, how thick do you want to make something and what do you envision.  You may have a discussion with the finisher about weight to ensure the piece stands up well.  Larger pieces might be trickier to finish depending on how the finisher uses weights to ensure the piece stands up.


Tray

You will select the material - acrylic or wooden insert. In some cases, especially with the acrylic pieces, your piece will be finished and then inserted, so you will be asked questions about finishing, similar to an ornament.


Patch

You will be asked about cording and the placement of your piece on clothing or a bag.  Bags can be tricky for finishers since they can be thicker than regular fabrics.  I know others may disagree, but in my opinion it is ok to use glue to adhere a piece onto a bag or clothing.  


Other Projects

There are so many other ways to use needlepoint, including the list below.  Each piece will vary in terms of questions asked about materials you prefer to use

-wreaths

-rugs

-picture frames

-bean bags

-coaster

-stuffed animals

-bricks

-wall hangings

-flip flops

-clutches/purses/cosmetic bags

-shoes

-clothing patches

-eyeglass cases (single or double sided)


Cost of Finishing

We recognize that needlepoint is an expensive hobby.  Finishing is also pricey, but here is what goes into those costs.


Time/Labor

Materials 

Expertise


Certain projects take more time depending on the complexity of the piece.  More time means more hours for the finisher, plus more materials you may need. Some materials are pricier than others.  If you are finishing canvas with open stitches, you may need extra lining to cover the backside.  This all adds up.


Finishers are experts for us. They provide us a service to make our stitching into the final art form we envision.  When we pay for finishing, we are paying for their time, materials and frankly, for their knowledge.  Most finishers have seen it all and can work with us.


Please encourage others to go into finishing.  Home economics isn’t a part of many school curricula any longer - which means that fiber artists and sewers are taught through family and friend connections.  This is wonderful, but we may have missed a generation of stitchers and finishers as a result.  



This can be tricky work, but it is creative and rewarding.  There are so many options, but there aren’t enough finishers to keep up with demand.  


Please speak up with questions about cost when bringing in finishing.  This is a service that shops provide, but no shop wants you to be kept in the dark, expense-wise.  Most shops will give you a price range.  Or you can ask what the typical expense for a certain type of project is. 


Typical cost of finishing - this is all dependent on labor, materials, etc:

-basic ornaments start $65

-stockings start $200

-standups start $75

-frogs/animals start $90

-small pillows start $100, price increases by size

-belt start $90

-key fob start $60

-blocking starts $25



Why Things Take Time in Finishing


  • Everyone has been stitching!  Due to the pandemic, people have had some time on their hands. In some cases customers are dropping off 8-10 items at a time!
  • There aren’t enough finishers – we need more people in the industry.  Home economics isn’t taught with the same frequency, or at all, as when we were in school.  
  • It has been difficult to source fabric and threads – some materials are limited by country of origin.  Factories have been closed because of COVID but now, for example in Italy, even though the factories are open, they traditionally take off the month of August.

 

Expected Timelines

You should expect a minimum of 6 weeks finishing time. Lately, the timeline has hovered around 12 weeks, in some cases. Due to a shortage of finishers, I recently had the experience of a 6 month wait for some products. 


POPPYPOINTE Deadline

As a reminder, our deadline is August 12. We will not be accepting anything after that date.  We do not store anything in the shop until finishers re-open again.  If you ship something to us after our deadlines, we will return them to you at your expense.  For holidays other than Halloween, Christmas and Hanukkah, please anticipate 6-8 weeks for most finishing projects in 2021.    



Whether you are planning your first project or are a seasoned stitcher, I hope you’ve found this information helpful.  We will be posting more onto the blog in the coming months.  


Happy stitching!  


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