When you are beginning a cross stitch project, it is necessary to prepare your fabric in certain ways. Wait, let me rephrase that…not necessary but optional and very helpful later. There are just a couple of things that you may choose to do to avoid aggravation later on in your project.
First, there is the issue of pre-washing your fabric. If you have ever sewn anything you will know that when you begin a sewing project, the first thing you do is wash your fabric. This is sometimes recommended for your cross stitch fabric also. I think most stitchers would agree that this is not necessary. When you finish the project and wash it, it will not shrink enough to cause a problem. On the other hand, if you are using a darker colored fabric you may want to pre-wash the fabric to prevent the dye from running after it is stitched. I have never personally run into a problem but I have heard stories of others that have and I would rather be safe than sorry. It is very simple to set the color in your fabric. Make a solution of one part vinegar to three parts water. Soak the fabric in this solution for about 15 minutes and the rinse the fabric under cold water until the water runs clear.
Second, there is the issue of your fabric unraveling while you are stitching. I know many stitchers that don’t concern themselves with this problem. I would suggest if you are not going to worry about the fabric unraveling, then you need to be very certain to cut your fabric large enough to allow for this because it will happen. There are other solutions to this problem though.
1. Masking Tape – You can tape around the edges of your fabric. Again you will need to cut your fabric large enough so that you can cut off the portion that was covered with the tape when you have finished. The adhesive on the tape will transfer to the fabric and over time can cause the fabric to begin rotting. The benefit to this is more control over how much fabric you will lose to unraveling or tape damage.
2. Fray-check – This is a fabric stiffener that you can apply to the edges of your fabric. Unfortunately, I fear that this will have the same effect as the adhesive in the masking tape. I am always concerned that the chemicals in these types of products will cause stains or rotting in the fabric eventually.
3. Sewing – I have found the best solution to be running a zig zag stitch along the edges of the fabric. If you don’t have a sewing machine, you can fairly quickly even hand sew a quick hem around the edges to prevent unraveling.
After getting these two issues out of the way, you are ready to stitch. Hopefully this will help save you some of the aggravations of learning cross stitch.