Cross stitch fabric too stiff

by Sonia
(Loganville,Ga, USA)

Is it OK to wash the fabric to soften it before starting a cross stitch project? It is very hard to get the Hoop on and work with it.

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Carol replies...
by: Carol

Thank you for taking the time to submit your question.

Are you using an Aida fabric for your project, Sonia?

Most manufacturers use a starch or "size" on Aida so that it is firm enough to stitch on easily. However, it has been known for less reputable brands to use extra starch to try to stiffen poorer quality Aida, and make it appear to be better than it is.

If you pre-wash the fabric in hot water this dissolves the starch and makes the fabric more pliable. However, I personally would not recommend doing this as it can make the cloth harder to work on as the "holes" tighten up making them less visible.

If you are struggling with getting the stiff fabric in the hoop you might like to consider two other options.

Firstly, you could start working with the fabric "in hand" instead of hooping straight away. As you work, the Aida will begin to soften and become more supple. Once it has lost the stiffness you could then transition to using your hoop.

Alternatively, you could use a scroll frame rather than a hoop. In this case you would wrap the excess Aida around the bars at top and bottom, leaving a nice firm area to stitch on in the center.

If you ask other cross stitchers you will likely find they each have their own suggestions for what to do with extra stiff Aida fabric. :-)

One last thing to keep in mind, is that for any sizable project it is going to take you time to complete it. If you are at all unsure of the quality of the fabric that was included in a kit, for example, then you might want to replace it before starting work. It would be a shame to discover issues once you have put hours and hours into a piece.

I hope this helps. I am sure others will come along and offer more suggestions, Sonia.

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