Introduction: Washing, Drying and Blocking Embroidery
In this lesson, I'll cover how to wash the water soluble marks out of your embroideries and get them ready for finishing.
We'll also go over how to dry your embroideries depending on how they'll be finished: by air drying on a line or by blocking!
We wash our embroideries for two reasons:
- To remove any markings we made with the water soluble pen
- To remove oils and dirt (optional)
You can wash your embroideries in two ways: either by running it under cool water or by swishing it in a bowl with a little soap and cool water, and then rinsing it under cool water.
Running Under Cool Water
Just what it sounds like. Remove your embroidery from the hoop and hold it between your hands and let cool water run over it until the marks disappear.
Bowl Swishing (Soap Optional)
I recommend washing with soap in a bowl so you don't have to clean out your sink. You definitely don't want to wash an embroidery in a dirty sink!
Fill a bowl with cool water. Place the embroidery into the bowl and swish it around to remove the marks. If needed, add just enough Castile soap to make the water a little bubbly - you'll want only a few drops! Swish the embroidery around again.
Rinse the embroidery under cool water to remove the soap.
P.S. Be careful with any embroideries with flowers or other elements that are easy to snag!
You want to remove the excess water first. Place the embroidery on a clean towel. Fold the end of the towel over it and press.
Then you need to make a decision: air drying on a line or blocking?
For embroideries that will be framed in hoops, you'll want to hang it to dry. Since you'll be stretching the embroidery in a hoop later, you don't need to stretch it now.
I made a drying rack in the corner of my room to do this - just two nails in the corner with strings between them.
For embroideries that will be framed or finished flat, you'll want to block the embroidery. I cover that on the next step!
When an embroidery piece is going to be framed instead of hooped, I like to block it! Blocking is something typically associated with knitting and crochet, but I've found it works just as well with embroidery.
Above is a photo of a perfectly blocked piece! There are no wrinkles or puckers, and the image is stretched evenly. And best of all, it took about five minutes to do.
I used to iron my flat embroidery pieces, but I found that they often became puckered and messy looking due to the fabric shrinking around the floss. Ironing also smashes your stitching, so it will look flat and a little off.
Blocking is the way to stop all of those issues and have a completely flat and beautiful embroidery to frame. :D
To block your embroideries, you will need:
- A cork board and push pins
- OR a piece of heavy canvas larger than your embroidery, clothespins, sewing pins and an ironing board.
- A damp OR dry embroidery
- Spray bottle filled with water
There are also commercial blocking mats available if you'd like to look into that.
I always do this on my table top ironing board because it's the perfect size for 90% of my embroideries.
Pin the piece of canvas to the cloth cover of the ironing. Make it taut.
If your embroidery is dry, lightly dampen it with the spray bottle. You'll want to keep it damp as you work with it, but NOT wet. A sopping wet embroidery will take forever to dry and the pins may rust in the process.
Now, lay the damp embroidery on the canvas and center it.
Starting at the center and working out to the edges, place pins all along the top edge of the embroidery - I normally do this about an inch apart, but for a very detailed embroidery, you may want to place the pins closer together.
Stretch the embroidery straight down and do the same with the bottom edge. Make sure to start in the center and work your way to the corners.
Do the same with the left and right sides. Make sure that you start in the center and work out to the edges to keep things even!
Once your embroidery is blocked, lightly spray it with water one more time, and allow it to dry completely. When it's dry, remove the pins or tacks. Your embroidery will stay lovely and flat and be amazingly easy to frame or hoop.