Monday, August 8, 2011

5 Steps Forward; 2 Steps Back

I've been asked many times how I finish my flat ornaments, like the clef series.  I do use this finish a lot because of how simply it goes together and how nice it usually comes out. I do use glue and double-stick tape, so some of you purists may be put off by this cheating and I give you this chance to avert your eyes.

Gather up your materials and tools. Press your stitched piece. I use acid-free mat board (the blue rectangle), wool felt, Warm & Natural quilt batting, and beads.
Cut a piece of mat board to the size you want your linen square. Use double-stick tape to stick on a piece of batting. Trim the batting (after you stick it) to the size of the square. This gives a little poofiness to the stitching.
Place double-stick tape around the perimeter of the back (un-batted) side of the mat board. I find the acid-free super-sticky kind with the red peel-off made for scrapbookers to work very well. Peel off the red backing to expose the sticky side. Trim your stitched piece if you have any long/wide sides.
Center the stitched piece over the batting and press the excess fabric into the tape areas, gently at first until it is lined up and straight. We'll be mitering the corners, so your front and back should like as below.

Now for the glue. I use "Fabri-tac" by Beacon Adhesives. This stuff is stinky (not for people with VOC sensitivity) and super sticky. Try very hard to not get any in places you don't want it. One corner at a time, put a blob inside each miter area and under the wings, then squash it down flat and hold it in place until it stays there.  Double-check which side is the top then add a loop of trim for hanging, using the glue to cement it in place. Draw a line of goo in a box about 3/8" inside of the outer edge.
Carefully place it (goo-side down) onto the backing felt. Allow plenty of room on each side. Press it down firmly then leave it alone for an hour or so to dry.  I set it outside where the heat not only dries it, but it drives off some of the out-gassing chemicals. Find a color of thread that best matches the backing fabric. I use beading thread; you could also use regular sewing thread. I would not use floss, as it might fray.

Rule 1 for beading -keep the needle out of the glue-y areas. If the glue is 100% dry, it is almost impossible to put the needle through. If the glue is <100% dry, you will gum up your needle beyond where you though possible.  So, tie a knot, hide it some where between the two layers and begin by stringing on five beads. Take the needle straight down into the felt exactly where the fifth bead ends. If you are a leftie, you may find it easier to go clockwise.
Bring the needle back to the front side just before the last two beads. Catch one thread of your linen as you come up. This thread you catch should be on the fold. If you do it right, you won't be able to see your stitch after the next step.
Bring the needle BACK through those last two beads.
Repeat those two steps and work your way around the perimeter of the linen. Five beads forwards, back through the last two. This anchors the felt to the stitching without having to have glue out at the edges and hides any gaps where the mitered corners are thicker. The back should have a series of small diagonal stitches visible. When you get back to the beginning of the circle, you will probably not need all 5 beads (80% chance against ;-) so add however many closes the gap. Take the backstitch if you added more than two. Run your needle through the first few beads you added to make a join, then take your needle to the back and tie it off, burying the end in the felt.

Pinking shears are a great investment! I love them. Just be careful to not pink off the ribbon hanger you so carefully added.
Ta da!

I hope you find this technique helpful. You can also use a twisted cord or some other trim instead of the beads.  Try it, then show me your finishes using it.


  1. Awesone Tracy. I scanned your stitched QR code with my phone and it worked! How cool. Going to make my own for the mag. LOL

  2. Great tutorial! The geek in me adores the stitched QR Code! I had to whip out my phone and use it :)

  3. QR code? Am I missing something?

  4. Hi Carol. QR codes are those two-dimensional bar-codes that you see popping up everywhere, usually in a sterile black and white. If you have a smart phone, you can scan them and the software will take you to a related website. The ornament I used in this example is actually a stitched QR that takes you to the Ink Circles site.

  5. I wanted to share a recommendation from my friend Claudia. She suggests Aleene's Quick-Dry Fabric Glue in the in the grey bottles. It's apparently NOT stinky. I must try to find some of that!

  6. What a great tutorial. I'm a non-sewer but think I could manage this!

  7. I haven't tried this finish for ornies yet, but now I feel I must :) Which means I better get an ornie STITCHED, huh? Mmmmm, beads :) I get Aleene's tacky Glue at Walmart - the BIG bottle :)