Where to start - background or words?
Making a small pillow with just plain background and two words. Should I stitch the words first? If so, when stitching the background, do I just go 'under' the stitches for the words?
I am sorry for the late reply, Lynda.
You don't mention whether this is a cross stitch design or one done in needlepoint. The way of working would depend on what stitch, and fabric you are using.
If it is a cross stitch design and the words are worked in backstitch, then I would advise you to stitch the background first, then work the letters on top.
If the letters are in cross stitch, then you have a choice of which to work first. It really won't matter. If, however, you are outlining the letters in back stitch, I would recommend working that after doing the cross stitch.
If you are doing needlepoint on canvas, from a printed design, I would suggest that the words would be the first thing to stitch to ensure that you don't inadvertently cover up any of the area with background stitches. However, this would depend on the needlepoint stitches in use.
If you are following a counted chart, then you may find it easier to count if you do the words first, then you can fill in the background afterwards, possibly without even needing to look at the chart.
If I haven't covered your particular design here, please do drop me a comment and I will try to help further.