How to Finish the Edge of a Needlepoint Canvas
to Be Made into a Pillow
by Rhea Stewart

Thanks to Rhea Stewart for allowing me to post her article here on my home page.

When stitching a piece of needlepoint which is to be made up with a seam all the way around, such as a pillow, stand-up object, or Christmas stocking, it is necessary to stitch several additional rows of background beyond the area indicated by the design. These rows will be entirely hidden in the seam allowance and are called "sacrifice rows." These rows stabilize the seam and also ensure that no raw (unworked) canvas shows there.

Work the sacrifice rows in basketweave, no matter what stitch or stitches are used for the rest of the piece. Because of the diagonal direction of stitching basketweave, it "locks" the canvas threads above and below each other, rather that along one horizontal or vertical row.

Three rows is critical. If you work only two rows, you end up doing continental stitch rather than basketweave. It takes three rows minimum to stitch basketweave.

On the other hand, three rows is plenty. Don't work more because this increases the bulk in the seam.

To further reduce bulk, square corners should also be worked. There will be a "square" of unworked canvas at each corner: 3 rows by 3 rows. Half the unworked square will be clipped away (that is, the right triangle of unworked canvas at the outer point of the square) to reduce bulk in the corner when the front and back are sewn together (like dressmakers do when sewing a square corner - they snip off the extra fabric at the corner).

Work sacrifice rows and block the work. Then clip off the triangles in the corners and seam the piece.

You may want to add twisted cording to the edge or tassels to the corners.

Copyright 1999, Rhea Stewart. Contact her about reprint permission.

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