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How to Block Needlepoint

When you block needlepoint you stretch it back into the shape it was in before you started stitching it. Oh, wouldn't it be nice if we could spray a bit of water on and stretch ourselves back into the shape we were in before we hit 40 (or 30?).

We digress. You will need to block your needlepoint canvas before you can finish your masterpiece properly. If you intend to make your needlepoint into a pillow, then you need a square and not a parallelogram, so let's learn how to quickly and easily block needlepoint.

NB: If you plan to send your needlepoint canvas away for finishing by a professional needlepoint finisher you will not need to block the needlepoint canvas as the finisher will do this for you.

Instructions For How To Block Needlepoint

If you were using a frame (and we won't tell if you weren't), then remove the needlepoint canvas from the frame.

Remember, before you started stitching, you traced an outline of the design shape onto some heavy paper? You did do this, didn't you? Well, remove this from where you stashed it in the pile of old papers in the garage, and lay it flat onto some hardboard or MDF (or any other type of board you can bang tacks or nails into). If you don't have an outline of the canvas before you stitched it then don't worry, you will simply be "eyeballing" your canvas back into shape.

Tip. For small projects we actually just use heavy thumb tacks and cork boards to block needlepoint. Probably not recommended but we are all about the easy route and it works for us, so it will probably work for you too.

First, check that the threads you stitched with are colorfast. Most widely distributed threads are colorfast but you still need to check. Dampen each different type of fiber you used with water and then blot it with a paper towel. You can use your leftover thread stash for this test. If dye bleeds onto the towel then the threads are not colorfast and you will need to dry-block your needlepoint by following the instructions below, but leaving out the part about wetting the canvas

You are now going to dampen your needlepoint by spraying it with clean water from a spray bottle. Notice we said dampen and not saturate!

Lay the dampened needlepoint, good side down, onto the paper you have laid on the board. You now need to match the outline of the canvas to the outline you traced on the paper. This will involve some stretching.

To block the needlepoint canvas, start at the center of each side and pull directly opposite, hammering or pressing in tacks or nails all the way around as you stretch the canvas out from the center. The tacks will need to be no more than 1 inch apart, and closer in places where more tugging is required. You are aiming to stretch the canvas to match it up with the drawn outline, or 'eyeball' it back into shape if you do not have this outline.

Allow to dry flat. In other words, leave it for several hours.

When dry, your canvas should have retained its svelte original shape and be ready for needlepoint finishing. If it's still a little distorted, simply repeat the needlepoint blocking process. Some canvases require multiple blockings to get them back into shape.


Contact us with questions about how to block needlepoint.

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