How to Wash Cross Stitch Once Finished

By: Susan Ashby


Having spent some time completing your cross stitch project, it is now the time to begin the process of preserving this piece of work. Before you can frame your cross stitch pattern or picture, it must, of course, be spotlessly clean. Although the piece worked probably does look clean, especially as you wash your hands every time you start your cross stitching; you have not eaten or had a quick drink whilst sewing and have also taken great care to put your work away safely between each session of cross stitching, it is important to remember that as it is hand worked and your hands contain natural oils, the material will require washing to ensure that it is completely stain free. As you have put a lot of time and effort into completing the piece, it is vital that any stains are removed at this stage because anything dirty left on the cross stitching might, in the long term, cause fungal damage. Any cross stitched article that is not extremely clean and washed prior to framing may also loose its colour in the future.

Cross stitched pieces must be washed separately by hand and should never be allowed to mix with other garments. If you know there is a stain on the piece, treat it with either lemon juice or white vinegar before you wash it. Do not be tempted to soak the stain in bleach as this will probably remove the colour of the sewing threads used to complete your cross stitch. You need to place the piece of work in luke warm water containing either a very mild washing up liquid or gentle soap flakes. You should not use harsh detergents and although it is possible to buy products designed for hand washing, these are not suitable for needleworked items. Let the cross stitched piece soak for about a quarter of an hour, moving it very carefully around in the water. If you spot any further stains, these may be rubbed with a soft toothbrush but it is imperative not to scrub the article.

When you have finished washing the cross stitch, rinse it in several changes of water until the final rinse is completely soap free and the water remains clear. Place the work carefully face down on a clean white towel, smooth out any creases and then place a further clean white towel on top of it. Roll the towels gently squeezing the water out but do not wring the towels as this will cause creases which may be difficult to remove. Obviously, if you have cross stitched a table cloth or other large piece of work, it would be extremely difficult to towel dry and it is, therefore, better to carefully place larger items on a washing line and allow them to drip but do not let them dry completely. Please do not fold wet cross stitch pieces.

The piece should now be placed face down on another clean dry white towel and pressed on the reverse side using a pressing cloth and the iron should be set at a medium heat. Continue pressing the piece until it is completely dry. If you have cross stitched a heavy material, you may need to use the steam setting on your iron to remove the creases but as long as you use a pressing cloth, the heat from the steam will not damage the cross stitch or any beading you have worked into your pattern. You are now ready to frame your work.

You have created a beautiful piece of cross stitch work just using a piece of cloth, some thread and a tapestry needle but it will last for some considerable time if it is properly washed and pressed prior to framing. It will become a family heirloom, uniquely hand made by you and is a piece which could last for generations. Friends and family members will greatly appreciate a cross stitched gift and when you look at a finished piece or see the pleasure your cross stitching gives others, you realise the care taken to sew, wash and frame it are extremely worthwhile.

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