It is so tempting to dive straight into a project but a few short steps preparing your linen can save time and aggravation later. There is nothing more frustrating than after hours and hours of work to find that your fabric is not big enough or has been unevenly cut.
All our charts show the stitch count and suggested size of linen depending on the counts. Our website has a useful CROSS STITCH CALCULATOR which will work out the size of fabric based on the stitch count. It is handy and worth bookmarking.
Remember to include an allowance for framing and stretching. At Hands Across the Sea Samplers we recommend adding a 3 inch margin to each of the four sides.
Once you have the correct sized linen it is worthwhile checking that it has not been unevenly cut.
The edge of your linen should be a single thread that runs the along the whole side. If it is not start at the short side and pull a thread.
The fabric will gather up but keep pulling and smoothing the puckered linen, when you have reached the end of the thread you will have a straight line that you can cut along.
If the thread runs out before you reach the end then you need to start at the beginning on the next thread. Do this for all four sides.
Next we need to prevent the edge of the linen from fraying as we stitch. At Hands Across the Sea Samplers we use a sewing machine to run a zig-zag stitch along the edges but you could hand whip the edges.
An alternative method is a product called Fray-Check. It acts as a liquid seam sealant that prevents fabrics from fraying and secures their ends.
If you use Fray-Check trim the edges of the linen away before framing your project in case it causes deterioration to your linen in the years to come.
The next step is to find your starting point on the linen. This could be the centre point or a corner.
To find the centre fold your fabric in half lengthways aligning the edge then fold in half widthways also aligning the edges.
The centre is where the folds cross.
Insert a pin and unfold your fabric, the pin should mark the exact centre point.
At Hands Across the Sea Samplers the centre point of the length and the centre point of the width are marked on our charts with an inverted triangle. Use these two marks to find the centre of the graphed chart.
Many stitchers like to work from the outside in and work the border first. To do this based on a 3 inch margin allowance carefully measure from a corner point 3 inches in then 3 inches down.
Either method is correct and may vary from project to project.