Tools of the Trade

Using Stretcher Bars on Needlepoint

Years ago, stitching in hand was common. Rarely did you see shops sell or encourage stretcher bars. Our hands used to hurt and we always seemed to grab the canvas so tightly destroying the sizing in the canvas. Now stitchers would imagine or think about stitching not on bars. 

Mounting your canvas onto stretcher bars keep it taut while you are stitching. This will ensure even stitches and a smoother look. Using a frame for stitching keeps your stitching consistent. Keeping your canvas on bars also prevents your canvas from becoming distorted. This aids with the finishing process. 

Stretcher bars come in all sizes. No matter what size your canvas, bars are available. Smaller canvases can also use mini bars which make the smaller pieces less weight. 

Don’t you love taking a canvas off the bars and seeing it straight and ready for finishing?


Laying Tool – A stroking needle used to align the threads so they will lay flat. You can use a needle trolley, Teko Bari, or even a long rug needle.

Needles – Needles come in various sizes. When you are unsure of the correct size needle to use for a particular canvas, just put one down into a canvas hole. If it drops through, it’s okay to use.

Ort Bag – Used to collect your orts. Some people save them to use as stuffing.

Shot or Sand Bags – These are small cotton bags filled with lead shot or sand and used as weights to hold down stretcher strip frames for stitching at a table.

Tapestry Needle – A blunt-tip, large-eye needle used for needlepoint.