Requiring Extra Care: 100 year old needlepoint.
Just prior to the holidays, a local customer came in with a large needlepoint. It was made by her grandmother and it was obvious that this was a valued family heirloom. What was also obvious, was its age. Stitched into the image was the name and date, 1914. When dealing with such old textiles several issues may arise. The fragility of the Muslin or mesh that the needlepoint is stitched onto is my number one concern. In this case we have two issues. First, the mesh was quite fragile, already showing signs of decay. Several areas had been previously torn and repaired. Second, the textile was significantly off square. This requires that the piece be stretched so it will lay flat, square and be pleasing to view in the frame. There was no salvage edge on this needlepoint. The edges had been folded and stitched by hand. This left me with the task of stitching the piece to a 4ply cotton rag backer that would hold the piece square and flat before applying to the floater board. I start by putting starter holes through the board approximately every inch. Then I can run a continuous stitch along each edge, going back to tighten them a little at a time. It's a long process, but the results are good, and the process is cautious. The hard work payed off, as the finished piece is now flat, squared off and secure. The cotton backing and natural cotton thread will do no further harm to the artwork and the piece is ready for handling and framing.