Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Day 5....

~ Greetings and Warm Welcome to ~
Day 5
we are going to talk about finishing. That was the #1 topic that people wanted me to talk about in the comments where I asked for topic suggestions for the 25 Days of Christmas. It also was apparent in the comments that many didn't know all the places that I share my finishing techniques. 

I have been blogging since 2006. WOW...huh?! Yep, truth, that is going on 12 years of my sharing what I know, shouting to the world all that I love about cross stitch. When I first started blogging my finishing SUCKED. Literally. 

For instance...
back in 2004, Katie was a 1st grader. She had a wonderful teacher that I loved. I went in to school once a week on Fridays and would help kids with reading for an hour. I would read to them, they would read to me. That year for some strange reason this book was very popular:

Every week when I went in the kids wanted me to read that story, over and over and over and over.
It became like a private joke between me and the teacher. So that year for Christmas I got my graph paper out and I charted a design and stitched and finished it. 
This weekend that teacher, was putting up her tree and she sent me this photo:

Pigeon Ornie

Now then...
the design using pencil and graph paper...pretty darn good and a very good likeness to the character. The finishing makes me cringe 😖
THOSE corners... 😬
The sewing machine ZIP along the top of the aida...😱
The store bought cording....😕

I was thrilled that the teacher STILL has it and that it brings back special memories to her each year she brings it out and puts it on her family tree, but when I saw it...I was like holy cow that finishing sucks. I've come a long way baby!

So what does this story have to do with anything?!....
I get sidetracked sometimes....excuse me....
So I have been stitching since 1985. I was 15. Finishing was basically framing. Then as I got married and started having children, Christmas was ALWAYS special to me. I had the idea that I would make an ornament for each child every year. The early years of finishing were like the above example. But as the internet took off and we got computers in the home and I saw bulletin boards, chat rooms, groups and blogs dedicated to cross stitch. MAN! That really opened my eyes. Soon I started my own blog, started reading lots and lots of other blogs and found that as I stitched more and more smalls, I got better and better at sewing, learned tricks and actually sort of had an affinity for creativity.

Did you know....
that in college I was actually a double major? My first major was Biology. My second was Secondary Education. I wanted to be a high school science teacher. I didn't finish my Indiana Teaching license because at the time where I wanted to live (where I was born - Haubstadt, IN) had so many teachers there were no openings. I went all over the surrounding counties and there were simply no openings for science teachers. I could have gotten a job in St. Louis, Chicago, Dallas, but to be honest I just didn't want to move from Indiana and particularly wanted to stay in the Evansville area as that was where my family was. (this was pre-Keith Pfeiffer). So this story is being told so that you understand I have an affinity for teaching.  

So back to the original story....
~ are you confused yet? ~
As I gained confidence in my finishing and started sharing my finishes, people started asking me questions about how I did X or Y or Z. So I decided I would make "tutorials"
So moral of the story: I sucked at finishing and as I practiced, just like the old saying: "Practice makes perfect" is truth. Practice DOES make perfect. I can teach anyone to finish.
 Did you know I had a tutorial blog that has been up and active for years? and being added to yearly?  I am always trying to make my blogs very user friendly to get to all the places I share. But with that being said, I can't spoon feed everyone. I have search bars at the top of every blog. If you can't find something, type in a key word and search. If I have it as a subject, you will find it.
 For those of you that do not know....my written and pictorial tutorial blog is at this link:
Learn to Finish with The Twisted Stitcher

If you can't remember my "handle", URL's or Blog titles did you know if you simply type in: Vonna
I am first hit (not to mention several entries after the first hit) and you can quickly and easily find everything I share.

Thoughts on Finishing....
I'm going to try to give some tips about finishing as we go along but I want to give my personal philosophy (what I practice) on finishing.

1.) TIME
 is the single most important factor in finishing. How long does it take to stitch something? Lots. Don't slam, bam, thank you Ma'am through your finishing. Why would you spend so much money, time and effort on creating a beautifully stitched piece to hurriedly, sloppily go through something? Slow down. Think it through. Be deliberate in your finishing efforts.

Use archival quality materials whenever possible. Acid free glue. Acid free mat board. Quality quilting cottons. Don't use that sticky board stuff. It is not acid free. I used it a long time ago when I didn't know any better. I have things that are horribly yellowed (20 + years old) and it is because of that sticky board - its not acid free. I have tried to salvage my old finishes on sticky board..and it is a nightmare. You pull the fabric off the sticky board and if it doesn't rip from being stuck on the board with the adhesive, it will still have the adhesive itself all over the back. It comes off sticky and nasty. It deteriorates the fabric too, yellows it and on one of mine that I framed in 1996 and gave to my mother in law...it is eating holes in it and yellowed horrendously. No amount of washing gets it off...AND if you have used over-dyed flosses the washing sometimes makes those colors run. Take my advice...don't use it and if you do use it, someday down the road you'll be sorry you used it.

Finishing takes a lot of supplies, scissors, cutting board, utility knife, fabrics, trims, glue, upholstery thread...on and on. Build your finishing stash slowly over time. You don't have to have expensive finishing tools, but you do have to have the basic ones to do finishing properly and make the finishing come out as best as possible. Proper tools, make for clean finishing. A dentist doesn't have a hammer and anvil to remove teeth (although it might feel like it). He has proper tools to do his job. So does the finisher have proper tools to finish their items.

Best advice I can give is: If you don't like finishing, don't do it, find someone to do it for you. I'm not promoting myself, there are lots of other finishers out there. (Including me!)

So as we go through the 25 days of Christmas with The Twisted Stitcher, I'm going to be giving advice on what products I use in my Finishing Cave. A lot of what I use and recommend is already on my tutorials, in my blog posts and videos...but going over them again - for new readers and reminding long time readers - never hurts :)

The first product I am going to highlight is: 
It literally does give the BEST press. I have used it for over 1 year now. I bought a small spray bottle of it on Amazon. And now: I buy it by the gallon through Joann's online (fill up the original small spray bottle I bought on Amazon)
It is NOT starch. It is a starch alternative. It is acid free - therefore safe for use on our needlework projects.  I have never had it bleed the floss colors. Worried about bleeding? Take a small piece of floss and test it on a scrap of white fabric to see if anything bleeds - that's what I do. I spray on the back side only. It gets out the toughest hoop marks. Fold lines? NO MORE. It is fantastic.
I use ONLY the clear, non-scented so I cannot comment on the fragrances or if the tinted brand stains cloth or anything else. I use the clear non-scented because: A. I don't want my needlework to smell. B. I don't want to have to worry about a tint staining my needlework. The product is report to repel moths and other bugs that may be interested in chomping on fabric. It is available at any big box store (Target, Walmart, Joann's...). Give it a whirl...be amazed!
*NOTE* I have gotten a very large number of E-mails asking me if I truly believe if Best Press is safe for needlework. This is what I have to say: If I didn't believe in a product. Or if I thought it would harm anything I (or someone else) had spent hours of work on....do you think I would recommend that product. OR use it myself?
I am not here to convince anyone of anything. Rather, I am here to share what I have learned, so that we all can enhance our workmanship. If you want to know more about it, do what I did: GOOGLE "Best Press" and research/read for yourself. Then decide for yourself what you want to do. I use it. Daily.

Happy Day 5!

Love and Hugs in stitches, 
Vonna xxxx


  1. I've been reading this blog since...2008 maybe and it still amazes me! Thanks Vonna, all the way from the other side of the Atlantic!

  2. Thanks for your tutorials, Vonna. Can't imagine the time you've invested in writing, photographing and video editing to get them online. I've been stitching since the early 1990s, but finishing has been my nemesis. Store-bought cording and a hot-glue gun have been my go-to tools up until now. I've been trying to learn better techniques, and your tutorials are really helping.

    Just last week I started my own stitching blog (livetostitch.blogspot.com), and my post yesterday was about framing (oh how it intimidates me!). My first post, about the ornaments I've stitched over the past 23 years, shows some of my own "ugly" finishes. But you know, even though they're ugly, they mean a lot to our family.

    I honestly thought people as talented as you were just born that way. Thanks for your honest post and sharing that early ornament. You give me hope that someday my finishes won't suck! haha

  3. Now I want to hear the story of how you met Keith!

  4. Loved reading your story. I am so grateful for all your finishing videos.

  5. Vonna, I do believe my dentist uses a hammer.:) I purchased Best Press after watching your tutorial and I love it. I have even used it on my husand's cotton shirts. I have just recently started finishing my things. I enjoy doing it but as you say, practice makes perfect. I have learned a lot of things NOT to do. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to your post each morning.

  6. Vonna, thanks for the very helpful hints and I would also love to know how you met Keith. Your finishing videos are very helpful. Merry Christmas!! Cathy in Webster, NY

  7. I love that pigeon ornie Vonna.

  8. As always your posts provide a wealth of information for us in the stitching world. I don't remember when I began reading your blog, but I have gone back and read some of your early years. I love that the teacher still has the ornament you created for her back when Katie was in first grade.

  9. I have been reading your blog almost from the beginning, as well as your finishing blog and watching your YouTube videos. All EXCELLENT resources. I particularly enjoy your 25 days of Christmas posts and look forward to them each year. Thank you for taking the time to do all that you do in sharing and teaching. I appreciate it and benefit from it. I am looking forward to reading about your finishing tools. It will be a good refresher and to see if there is anything that you recommend that I don't already have (I have purchased a good portion of the tools and products that you have recommended over the years already. lol! Including Best Press--fabulous stuff!). Have a blessed day!

  10. I am always so amazed when I am able to pull off a small finish of some sort. Last year I did several finishes and used your awesome tutorials. They definitely provide support and answer questions that some people (like me) just have no clue about. I don't aspire to be as good as you but it would be nice to be able to do a few simple finishes. You re right - you do get better with practice. I just finished a simple needlepoint ornament and it took me 8hrs but it was all hand stitched - no glue was used and I'm proud of the time I invested. I did not realize you used Best Press on the stitched item - I thought you only used it for the fabric part - another thing learned and yes I'll add that to my supplies. Thanks for being so supportive - you rock ! Mel

  11. I have enjoyed reading and watching your tutorials. I have learned so much. And obviously, I have so much more to learn. Thank you for your generosity and sharing all of this.
    I love your pigeon ornament. My grandchildren absolutely love this set of books. Yes, there are more! Would it be possible for me to copy your pattern?
    Christmas blessings, Donna

  12. I used to use that awful sticky board when I first started stitching and all of those pieces have yellowed and just look awful! We live and learn I guess! HA!! I also LOVE Best Press and won't use anything but that for needlework!!!

  13. Thank you for your wonderful blog. Always love looking at your beautiful finishing

  14. Thank you Vonna. Such great wisdom and help. Having been unemployed for too long, funds are low this year, so in making my stand ups I used recycled cardboard from wherever. It was clean and in good shape. Here is where the rubber meets the road people - LISTEN to Vonna! All looked wonderful until about a week later every single one warped horribly. The ones using the last of my mat board finished with exactly the same process look great as ever. Do not scrimp on the right stuff. I now have five to figure out IF I can save them. I had never made stand ups til I looked at Vonna’s site. She made it so easy to go step by step. There are still items I will have her finish once I have a job again but the simplest of things I feel confident to do myself based on her teaching.

  15. I enjoy your blog. So informative. I use your finishing tutorials all the time. They are terrific. Your are wonderful for sharing all the knowledge you have gained over the years. Look forward to reading more of the 25 Days of Christmas.

  16. I'm not sure I'll ever have an affinity for finishing, but I do love listening to your finishing tutorials while I stitch or do housework. I especially appreciated learning your philosophy of finishing, I think it applies to other pursuits as well. Thank you, as always, for sharing your wealth of knowledge.

  17. Hi Vonna - Thank you for all you do to help us fellow stitchers. I have MANY cross stitch items stitched-finished but not all the way finished. Why? Because I didn't know how to. I just love to stitch. But since I have read your blog for over a year and found your youtube finishing videos I have finished two ornaments, one is a pillow and the other is a flat fold. I followed your instructions to a T and it turned out GREAT! So excited to be able to finish. And they look very nice. So thank you Vonna for being so willing to share your talents. You are a blessing to so many. And those blessings will return right back to you. Will you have another retreat in 2018? If so, I will definitely sign up. Thanks! Cindy in northern Illinois

  18. How nice to know that that ornament still hangs on the tree of one of the teachers. I have never heard of that book. Hmmmm I feel like I missed out on it somehow. Since I heard you talk about Best Press I got myself a bottle of it and use it now as well. And Yes...I use store bought cording..but won't anymore as I have purchased a cord maker this year and will make my attempts (with the aid of your videos) to make my own.

  19. Each year I make an ornament for my little grand daughter. I just finished it today. I used your flat ornament tutorial and your bow tutorial. That bow one really saved me. Thanks so very much. By the way, when I post it on my blog, all the credit will be yours. However, next year I hope to beat your deadline as I don't love the finishing.

  20. Thanks so much for your wonderful tips and hints. So enjoyed learning about your earlier finishing pieces for as you said repeatedly it does come with practice and does require time.

  21. What a wonderful post and great comments from everyone. (I read them all!) I'm going to use your tutorials to finish a bunch of bowl fillers. Thank you for sharing with all of us.

  22. Thanks for the advice. Love the background story. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Thank you so much for your tips and hints, Vonna. I've learned a lot from your tutorials. My finishes aren't up to your quality, but I have improved with practice. And you are so right, good finishing takes time.

  24. Awww, you pigeon ornament is adorable! I know you cringe at your beginning work but I am positive that teacher wouldn’t trade that one for a professionally finished one today.

  25. Great to know there's hope! I have been referring to your tutorials for quite some time - they are the best! I haven't finished a lot, but when I do, I check your blog out. Until just recently, your Flosstube was the only one I ever watched, too. Thank you for your time, expertise, kindness, and generosity!

  26. Great to know there's hope! I have been referring to your tutorials for quite some time - they are the best! I haven't finished a lot, but when I do, I check your blog out. Until just recently, your Flosstube was the only one I ever watched, too. Thank you for your time, expertise, kindness, and generosity!

  27. I love your tutorials on your blog! There is a lot of information there!

    Loved seeing one of your first finishes - it really gives me the motivation to keep on trying to improve!

  28. Mo Willem's pigeon books are STILL very popular with little ones (I read to a kindergardener and 1st grader once a week).

  29. I have used the tutorials on your blog and they are very helpful.

  30. Your finishing blog and YouTube tutorials are my first port of call for finishing. Thank you for sharing. I'm now placing an order for 'Best Press' to see if I like it as much as you.

  31. I love best press for my quilting, but never thought I could use it on stitching too! I only have the scented stuff, so I will have to get some unscented. Thanks Vonna!

  32. I just want to send you a little love from Texas! I have followed your blog for a lo g time and it is the bible i turn to when I have a stitching question but I love your videos even more now! I feel like it is having you all to myself for an hour thank you for all you do for the stitching community and inspiring me to be better.

  33. I am so glad to know about the sticky board. Someone suggested it years ago and I bought a piece. It have always had a bad feeling about it and could not bring myself to use it. Now I can finally throw it away!


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