Now that we have our ground cloth ready we need to mount it on stretcher bars so it will stay taunt during stitching. It is important to use stretcher bars to brace your work instead of holding it in hand for a number of reasons. The stretcher bars keep your canvas square giving you a much better chance of making even stitches and not having to block the canvas when you are done. Mounting your work helps you keep an even tension on your stitches which is important to the appearance of your work. When mounted you will handle the canvas less so it is less likely to get dirty. In addition,once mounted you can use a lap stand or floor stand which will free your second hand enabling you to lay or control fibers better.
There are different styles of stretcher bars but basically they are simple pieces of wood that come in pairs that fit together to form a square or rectangle the size of your needlepoint canvas. Some of the bars such as the Evertite Bars pictured to the right can be adjusted after the canvas is mounted to make the surface tighter than you can by hand. For this project our canvas is 16" X 20" so you will need one pair of 16" bars and one pair of 20" bars. So select the stretcher bars of your choice and next we will discuss how to mount your canvas.