Stretcher Bars: Our most recommended product!
Looking for an easy way to improve your stitching? Just add stretcher bars! They are far and away our MOST recommended product to stitchers in our shop. Once you try stretcher bars, there's no going back. We know you will love them.
While there is nothing wrong with stitching in hand (particularly if you're just doing basketweave), your canvas can be mounted on stretcher bars to help prevent your project from "warping" or distorting as you stitch. They are also inexpensive... around $3-5 a pair and provide so much added benefit! Usually, they prevent the finisher from having to block your project once it is stitched.
They are easy to fit together, and pop together at the corners. The more times they are used, the easier they become to assemble.
Stretcher bars are particularly great for stitchers who want to do decorative stitches or work with specialty threads like ribbon. Because the canvas stays "stiff" when you stitch, it is easier to count your canvas threads when doing decorative stitches. Stretcher bars also help to to even out your tension- particularly when working with "fussier" threads that might need to be laid or thicker fibers that require more pulling to get through the canvas mesh.
Stretcher bars are sold in pairs. When figuring out which size you need for your canvas, you will want to measure the entire width and height of your project (all the way from edge to edge, including the selvage). If you are in between sizes, size down to ensure that the bars aren't too large for the canvas.
Stretcher bars come in two widths: a "mini" size (1/2" wide) and a "regular" size (1" wide). The mini size is available in lengths up to 18" and the regular size goes all the way up to 28." While the widths can't be mixed, they can be used again and again.
You will also need a set of brass tacks to attach your project to the bars. They are reusable and come with a handy little lever that makes it easy to remove them when you are done.
You may see some stitchers mounting their canvas on top of the bars and others mounting the canvas below (Pro tip: this is known as stitching "in the well.)" They are both correct! It simply comes down to your personal stitching preference whether you mount them on top of the bars or underneath. It's important to do what is most comfortable for you when you stitch.
When placing your tacks in the bars, start on the center edge of each side and work outwards towards the corners from there. This will allow you to pull the canvas tight as you tack, and will ensure your canvas goes on smoothly and is flush with the bars.
Watch our handy little video to see Brigid demonstrate how to work with them for even more tips.
What are you waiting for?! Give stretcher bars a whirl on your next project. We know they will become a stitching "necessity" for you too!
Click here to shop mini bars.
Click here to shop regular stretcher bars.
Click here to shop brass tacks.