Once you have stitched your needlepoint design you will need to know how to block the needlepoint canvas back into its original shape. It is not a difficult process but it may take two or three “blockings” to get it right. If only it were that easy for us humans – spray a bit of water on and we are twenty again!
If the design you have is a square, or other regular geometrical shape, then you can probably “eyeball” it back to shape. If however it is an ornament, a doorstop or some other irregular shape, then it is best to make a pattern on paper of the original design before you start stitching. You will use this pattern to guide the needlepoint canvas back to shape when you block it. Just trace the outline of the needlepoint design area onto some parchment paper.
Follow these instructions for how to block needlepoint:
- Check the threads for color-fastness. Dampen a small area of colored thread with water and then blot it with a paper towel. If you have leftover thread then use this, not the stitched threads. If dye from the thread comes off onto the towel then the threads are not color-fast and you will have to dry-block your needlepoint by following the instructions below, but omitting all the parts about wetting the canvas. This is to prevent the dye from “running” into adjacent fibers.
- Spray some clean water on the canvas design area to dampen it. I use a spray bottle to do this.
- If you took a pattern of the design, tack this down onto some hardboard or cork board using thumb tacks or nail in tacks. The board will need to be large enough to accommodate the needlepoint design. Place the needlepoint canvas onto the paper you have laid on the board. If you do not have a paper tracing then you will be laying the needlepoint canvas directly onto the board, so make sure it is clean or cover it with a cloth.
- You now need to match the outline of the canvas to the outline you traced on the paper, or “eyeball” it to the shape it was originally – usually this means turning a parallelogram back into a square or rectangle. This will involve some stretching.
- Starting at one corner, hammer in tacks or small nails, or push in thumb tacks, all the way around the design, about 1 inch apart, stretching the canvas as you go to match it up with the drawn outline or original shape. Often you need to place the tacks closer than one inch apart in the corners. You will need to pull quite hard from multiple angles to get the canvas to adjust its shape.
- Leave it to dry.
- Repeat this process two or three times if necessary until the canvas is blocked back to its original shape.
Another important tip is to spray the finished and blocked canvas with a fabric protector. This will help to prevent soiling of the canvas and will keep your handiwork looking nice. There is little point in learning how to block needlepoint if someone spills something on your finished pillow and ruins it. Fabric protector is invisible and will place a moisture shield over the fibers.