Prepare your needlework for display

Whether you plan to frame it or show it off hoopla-style, make sure your cross-stitch looks its best. Here’s our guide to washing and pressing your needlework:

Spray your masterpiece lightly with clean or distilled water. If you don’t have a spray bottle, or need to wash off any marks, hand-wash it in cold water with gentle (or highly diluted) detergent and rinse well.

If your handiwork is sopping wet, roll it in a clean towel until damp:

Rolling needlework in a towel

It’s now time to dry and stretch it…

The no-fuss way

Just let your work dry flat, gently stretching it where needed.

If creased, place your damp work face-down onto a folded towel. This will avoid crushing your stitches flat. Gently steam-iron it on a medium heat.

Ironing needlework over a towel

The no-iron way

Stitching completely warped out of place? Worried about burning it with the iron? Try ‘blocking’ your work instead:

Grab a piece of sturdy board – foamboard, polystyrene, whatever you can find. Just make sure it’s big enough, clean, dry, can cope with damp and will enjoy being stabbed by pins.

Lay your damp needlework flat on the board. Pin the fabric to the board with no-rust sewing pins, stretching out any creases and distortion as you go.

Start by pinning the centres, both horizontally and vertically. Then pin the corners down in line with the centres. Next, go all around the edge of your work at ½ inch intervals.

You’ll want the corners to be 90 degrees, the sides to be flat and the grain of the fabric to be straight. If you lost your square ruler at school, use a piece of A4 paper as a guide. Keep pinning or re-pinning until you’re satisfied.

Let your needlework dry fully pinned down. When dry and freed from the board, it should be crease and warp-free.


Voila, your masterpiece is ready for showing off.


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