My stitching task for today was not stitching as such – I decided to lace the two larger Extravorganzas (the smaller ones have already been mounted in cards). Lacing is a neat finish, convenient for display and ready for framing should I decide to later, but it does take quite a bit of time and effort. However it’s also quite relaxing, in a way, so quite a good activity for a dreary Saturday afternoon.

As the organza backing is so much part of these designs, I decided to play around a bit with them, and for Extravorganza 2 I cut the orange organza into a rough floral shape large enough to cover the cut area, then backed it with yellow felt for extra brilliance. The orange shape very subtly shines through the fabric and forms a sort of ghostly frame around the stitching. It was a bit of a gamble, but I think the effect is quite, well, effective smiley.

Extravorganza 2, laced and with its shaped organza backing

For number one, in purple, I wanted a black background behind the whole thing. In itself not difficult, as I’d just got some black adhesive felt which was easily attached to the foam board (kindly cut to size by my helpful husband, who is much more dextrous with a Stanley knife than I am). Unfortunately, though unsurprisingly considering how diaphanous it is, this made the purple organza look black too. White felt to the rescue! A patch the shape and size of the cut area, covered by the organza, made the holes show up a pretty purple while maintaining a uniform dark background for the rest of the fabric.

If you’ve never laced embroidery before you may wonder what the effort is I was referring to. There are plenty of very good tutorials out there on the web (none of which I have bookmarked to share with you I’m afraid) so I’m not going to write one here, but just jot down a few notes with some pictures.

First cut your board to size; I use foam board for the very simple reason that I was offered a few sheets for free by someone who had some left over. In order to soften the lines I usually cover it with felt first, either adhesive or plain. This also means I can have different coloured backgrounds depending on what I’m lacing. Place the stitching over it and make sure it is centred, then stick a pin in the centre of each edge. Pulling the fabric straight, keep adding pins until the fabric is evenly stretched (left-hand picture). Using a strong sewing thread, lace two opposing sides by zigzagging; stagger the stitches so the fabric doesn’t get pulled apart (right-hand picture). When I’ve laced one direction I go over the threads from the beginning, pulling them taut, and it’s surprising how much slack there is in threads you thought you’d pulled quite tight!

The stitching is pinned to the foam board on all sides

Lacing the first two sides together

I hate doing corners, as I can never get them as neat as I would like. Still, they have to be done, so I cut a triangle off each corner and fold them as best I can, then secure them with pins. Lace the other two sides, take the pins out, and secure the corners with a few small stitches (left-hand picture). Check it looks OK at the front (and as undoing everything is a major pain I hardly ever decide it doesn’t…), and remove all the pins (middle and right-hand pictures). And there you have it, one laced piece of needlework and one needleworker glowing with a sense of achievement.

Corners tucked in and secured, and all sides laced

Does the front look OK?

Pins removed, all neat and tidy

Having finished Extravorganza there was one other thing to do – put the fabric for Orpheus on a frame. I’m looking forward to some more Ukrainian white work (even though in this case it’s orange…)

Orpheus ready to go