Sunday, October 16, 2011

How to Mount Your Canvas

Everyone has a different preference for how tight their canvas should be mounted. Some people like their canvas drum tight and others like their canvas with a little give. If you haven't discovered how you like yours yet, stretch it as tight as you can and you will discover with experience what you prefer. In addition to the stretcher bars you will need either tacks or staples. While staples can be used my preference is to use tacks since they are easier to remove if you need to readjust the tension on your canvas. Regular tacks will work but I prefer the flat headed brass tacks (Quilter's Tacks)  that many needlework shops sell. Here are two examples of tacks. the one on the left has an insertion tool and a removal tool. The one on the right has just a removal tool.
 To mount the canvas on your stretcher bars:
  1. Assemble the stretcher bars into a square or rectangle by fitting the edges together and make sure the frame is square (each corner forms a right angle). 
  2. Place the canvas on top of the stretcher bars and align the warp and the weft of the canvas with the edges of the frame.
  3. Tack the center of one edge by pushing the thumb tack through the canvas and into the stretcher bar.
  4. Pull the canvas to the opposite side and tack down
  5. Push in thumb tacks 1 1/2" to the left and right  on both these sides pulling the canvas tightly as you go
  6. Repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 on the other two sides of the canvas
  7. Pull one canvas corner taunt and tack it down; do the opposite corner and then the other two corners
  8. Continue to secure the canvas all the way around, stretching it as you go. As you insert one tack insert the next one diagonally opposite it. Place the the tacks at 1 1/2 " intervals.
  9. If you use staples instead of tacks insert them diagonally and alternate directions to reduce strain on the warp and weft.
  10. As you stitch, the canvas will relax and begin to sag. This is normal. If the needlepoint mounting becomes too stretched out, you may have to tighten it. Do this by removing the tacks from two adjacent sides. Stretch the canvas gently and replace the tacks, first at the corners, then in the centers, then filling in.If this does not make it tight enough you may need to remove the canvas from the frame altogether and remount it as  from the beginning.

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