Finishing an Embroidery / The gaping hole appears, 2015-17

As someone who is completely self-taught in the art of embroidery, there is always more for me to learn. How to finish an embroidery so that it can be protected and preserved for many decades to come is something that I have been doing a lot of research on these past few years. Most of what I have learned has come from old books on textile conservation and preservation (such as "Preserving Textiles: A Guide for the Non-Specialist" and "Considerations for the Care of Textiles and Costumes," if you're curious). 

After spending many months on an embroidered piece–or in the case of this particular work, years–it is extremely important to me that I take all the steps I can to ensure the piece has a long life. Every decision I make along the way, including the materials I use, my working methods, how the piece is stored, how much I touch it, etc, has an impact on how well it will hold up over time. Although hand-embroidery can seem quite delicate and fragile, if it is properly made and cared for, a piece can live for hundreds of years. 

The back of the embroidery, after being washed with a gentle cleanser

Ironing the embroidery through a layer of unbleached cotton

The finished piece was sewn to a backing layer of silk with a layer of cotton batting in between 

A diagram on how to mount and frame textiles using archival methods

Sewing the layers of fabric together 

Sewing the layers of fabric together 

Mounting the piece with brass embroidery tacks onto a wooden stretcher that has been gessoed to seal the wood

The piece mounted onto the stretcher 

All photos by Megan Canning unless otherwise noted.