Stretcher bars are lightweight wooden frames that help keep your canvas straight while you stitch. The canvas is attached to the wood frames with tacks that are easy to put in and easy to remove.
Pull your canvas as tightly as you can across the bars while placing the tacks in the wood to secure the canvas to the bars. The placement of the tacks does not matter. The bars and tacks will keep your canvas tight and taut to prevent any distortion when you stitch.
Stretcher bars come in a set of two bars, so you will need two sets to total the 4 bars you will need to make the square or rectangle to hold your canvas. The bars fit together with a dovetail joint. Sometimes fit together easily, other times you may need to use a little more elbow grease. Stretcher bar sets are sold in 1” increments. Measure the size of the canvas itself and not the design to determine the size bars you need. Sometimes a canvas dimensions aren't a whole inch so you may need to trim the canvas so there is no excess canvas extending pass the bar.
While I'm a fairly straight stitcher, I find that for canvas inserts (those that will be self-finished in a cozy, passport case or clutch) it is advantageous to stitch on bars. This helps keeps the canvas as straight as possible so there is little to no blocking needed before adhering the stitched canvas to the leather good. It truly makes a world of difference.
Our curated kits for insert designs now include a needle, threads, stretcher bars and tacks. Our hope is that these curated kits will give you everything you need to make your stitching experience and your finished project ideal! We hope the addition of stretcher bars make stitching our designs easy, convenient and enjoyable for you!
If you have never stitched on stretcher bars, particularly on a self-finished insert, we encourage you to try it! It’s a lot of fun. Self-finishing projects are often fast projects and provide instant finishing gratification! It’s surely a delight to be able to use and display your beautiful needlepoint in the practical ways that self-finishing allows.