Is anything more exciting than starting a new project? And is anything more tedious than mounting the canvas? A little extra preparation to mount the canvas will make for a more pleasant stitching experience, though, so I thought I’d share today how I prepare a canvas for stitching.
A note: I use Evertites stretcher bars, so my process may be a little bitt different, but the principles are still the same.
The first thing I do is to bind the edges of the canvas. This prevents threads snagging on the rough edges of the canvas. I’m fortunate to have an edge binding machine, but I have also taped by hand. I use white 3/4″ wide artists tape, that I buy through Amazon.
Next I assemble my stretcher bars. With Evertites, the name should be on the inside of the bars, with the little screws on the inside of the joints.
This gives you room to tighten the screws after the canvas is mounted.
Next, lay the canvas on top of the assembled stretcher bars. I place one tack in the center of each bar:
Begin in the center even with regular stretcher bars. I’ve seen several people begin mounting by tacking at the corners first, and this doesn’t allow the canvas to be adequately stretched as you tack.
Next, work all four sides at the same time by placing tacks on either side of the center tacks.
Pull and stretch the canvas as you place the tacks. I work opposite sides, first the top and bottom, then the sides, placing tacks on each side of the center and working toward the corners.
Notice that the tacks are very close together. This allows for an even stretch of the canvas without strain at specific places. I had a framer tell me that this is the best way to place tacks – almost touching, and certainly never more than 1/4″ to 1/2″ apart.
I place tacks almost to the corners for the Evertites. The corners must remain free so the screws can do their job of expanding the canvas until it’s tight. With regular stretcher bars you place tacks at the corners.
Now the Evertites do their magic. I work one corner at a time, turning the screw 5 to 6 times at each corner then moving to the next. If more is needed I come back to it, turning the screws at each corner an equal number of times.
This picture shows the screw extended so it pushes the frame apart. A note: always retract the screws before disassembling the stretcher bars when the project is complete, to prevent damaging the screw assembly.
Now my canvas is all mounted and ready to stitch:
Why to go to all this trouble? First, it only takes about 20 minutes to get the canvas taped and mounted properly. Second, a tight canvas is easier to stitch; you aren’t pulling the canvas each time you pull the needle through. Third, a tight canvas supports the stitches better, and it’s easier to lay the threads.
I won’t get into stitching in the well or with the canvas on top; that’s strictly a personal preference (I prefer with my canvas on top). So I hope I’ve shared a few tips with you that will make your stitching easier.