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Cross Stitch 101: Using Stretcher Bars

Stretcher bars are a weird concept for some people.  You have to use tacks and put big, ugly holes in your fabric, and you can't really adjust the fabric once it's on there.  But I freaking love these things.  I use these the vast majority of the time, over any other method of holding my fabric while I'm stitching.

Stretcher bars are exactly what they sound like: bars you use to stretch your fabric.  Most are modular, and some will even come in enormous sets with a wide variety of sizes.  This is the set that I like best.  I have about six of these sets.  I've marked all of them with their size, and thrown them into a bin so I always have the size I need when I need it, no matter how shamefully big my WIP pile is.  Some are so old, I've taken wood fill to them to fill in the stupid amount of holes I've punched into them.

Using them is pretty easy.  The listing linked above should also recommend some tacks.  If it doesn't, these are the ones I use.  I buy a new set of tacks about every six months, because they get lost or bent up or break.  They're pretty cheap and don't last very long, but you get a lot for your money.

Using these is just like stretching a drum, or a painting canvas.  I like to start and the corners first, and then work from the middle of each of the sides outward, adding tacks until the fabric sounds like a drum when I tap it.

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