And then there was Damp Stretching…….

Another new concept to me as I have been exploring the art of hand stitching has been ‘damp stretching’. It is similar to blocking a quilt or a knit project in many ways but with, perhaps, subtle differences.  The intention is, partly, to remove wrinkles, particularly if you have been hooping your work, and any distortions that may have crept in as the fabric has been manipulated. It also really livens a piece up!

Cork makes a great surface to stretch a piece on. I was able to create a nice sized cork surface by using some cork blocks found at a local office supply store. However, you need to be sure to test the cork that it will not bleed color on to your fabric when wet. You may need to seal the cork.

Here is a photo of ‘Memories’ being damp stretched.  

square fabric being damp stretched

I used straight pins to pin the piece to the cork. I also have some bulletin board pins that I have tried but they leave larger holes and I am finding that I can create enough tension to remove wrinkles with straight pins. In my stitching studies with Karen Ruanne, she suggested to begin pining in the center of one side and pin back and forth across the two sides till they are completely pinned. Then a similar process of pinning is done on the other two sides. 

Once pinned, you spray the piece with water until it is damp and then leave it to dry overnight.  

While I had always thought of blocking a piece as an option when it was finished, I have learned that a piece is often damp stretched many times while being embroidered.  I imagine that this helps to minimize distortion. It also gives you a hint of what the finished piece will look like as many stitches literraly seem to shine after the process!

Right now, I am looking forward to the next step – free motion quilting! 

P.S. I am linking this post to Nine Marie”s Off the Wall Friday site, so be sure to check out what other artists have been up to this week.



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  1. Can’t wait to see it quilted!

  2. This is very interesting – thank you for sharing! I do like to block my quilts, but I am interested in how you have blocked this piece before the quilting. I cannot wait to see where you go from here! 🙂

  3. Thanks for showing this step. I’m starting to do some hand-stitching, too and this will come in handy. Looking forward to your next step, too.

  4. Hmmm. had not thought about doing this mid stage… good to know!

  5. Thanks for this info, Judy. I’ve blocked many knit pieces, and a few quilted ones, but never my embroidery. Good tip! (and the piece is lovely!)

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