SO why shouldn’t you just take a pair of scissors and hack off all the excess fabric that sticks out behind your wooden embroidery hoop?
Because it looks like a butcher did the job with a cleaver. Because a hooped embroidery always loses tension over time, and goes saggy, and if the embroidery goes saggy, you can’t stretch it taut. Because you can’t undo the hoop to clean the embroidery, as you’ll never be able to get the fabric back into the hoop. Because if the edges of the embroidery ever fray, they may come dangerously close to showing on the front of the piece. Because you can’t later change your mind and move the embroidery to a bigger hoop, or make something different out of it, when it’s been cropped so close. Because you’ve gone to all this trouble to stitch something nice, it’s a shame to rush through the finishing steps like a knucklehead. Because you are not a knucklehead.
⓵ Trim the fabric outside the hoop into a circular shape, but not very close to the hoop. I gave this embroidery a 2 ½-inch margin, and I’d say that’s the narrowest margin I’m comfortable with.
On the other hand, the maximum fabric margin you can leave is the measurement from the center of the circle to the hoop’s edge. That is, half your hoop’s diameter. So if your hoop is 8 inches across, the maximum fabric margin you can leave on is 4 inches.
☆ For a really finished look, you can opt to now blanket-stitch, machine overlock or finish this raw fabric edge with a wide zigzag machine stitch. I didn’t have time, at this point, but I can still choose to finish the raw edge of my embroidery later. Needless to say, hat’s one advantage of finishing an embroidery this way.
⓶ Thread some strong thread into a sharp needle—toning to match the fabric if you wish—and make a temporary (removable) knot at the end. Now sew a running stitch all around the fabric circle. Stay about ¼-inch (around 10 mm.) in from the edge of the fabric. My running stitches are about ¼-inch long, too.
Now pick up both thread ends and gently start pulling the excess fabric together. It will ruffle and pucker like this. Use your free hand to ease the fabric along the thread, aiming to get the ruffles evenly spaced and sized, all around the hoop.
Finish off by tying an overhand knot, and then a small, simple bow, as for shoelaces. This way, the knot is easy to undo and the embroidery can be removed for washing. You can leave the gathering stitches in when washing or working on the embroidery… just gently slide the fabric until the ruffles open up and your embroidery lays flat.
Another good tutorial, by Cheryl C. Fall, for hooping and finishing an embroidery to display is here. The reason I don’t use her method is that I would have to undo all those tiny slip-stitches around the back of the embroidery before I could do something as simple as adjust the tension in the fabric, or remove the embroidery for cleaning.
But it looks much neater than my method. 🙂 Either way, it beats taking a pair of scissors and giving your embroidery a close, ugly shave. Looks much more professional, too, if you are interested in selling your work.
- Week 2 ✂ Blanket (Buttonhole) stitch (TAST) (smallestforest.net)
- In love with it… (smallestforest.net)
- 29 Embroidery Stitches (monicadennis.wordpress.com)
- Embroidery hoop – part one (drjenkinsunts.wordpress.com)