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How to clean your finished embroidery

You have just finished your masterpiece. Now how do you keep it looking beautiful for years to come?

If you are not going to frame it right away I recommend storing it in a Jelly Roll. Jelly Rolls are perfect for in progress or finished work as you roll the work instead of folding it. Perfect way to not add any additional creases in the fabric. Also protects it from dust, insects and accidental spills.

If you have used any hand dyed fabric or floss do NOT wash your piece. Most hand dyed fabric and floss are not color fast so they may bleed if they get wet. Even the steam of an iron could make them run. I also do NOT recommend dry cleaning your piece.

So why do our embroidery pieces need to be washed?

If you use a hoop or q-snap no matter how clean your hands are you are still leaving behind hand oils on your fabric just from holding it. These oils are what turn our pieces yellow over time. Also if you have left your hoop on the fabric you may have some hoop burn. Washing and ironing your piece may be necessary to relax the fabric.

If you use a scroll frame you may not need to do any cleaning at all, as your hands rarely touch the fabric. So take a close look at your piece and decide if your piece needs to be washed.

I recommend washing and iron your fabric before you add beads or other embellishments. Some beads have a finish on them that can be rubbed off if over stimulated.

To wash your embroidery use a running tepid water. I use a small amount of Dawn dish soap, it gets rid of hand oils. Simply place no more then a small pea size of soap on your palm. Then in a circular pattern gently rub it around your embroidery. Gently wash it, don’t scrub or scrunch it up.

Once you have washed it, rinse thoroughly, until suds no longer appear in the water. Do not wring the water out – it can pull your stitches. Place the piece on a dry bath towel and roll the towel up and gently squeeze. Repeat as necessary, this will remove most of the water.

Lay the embroidery face up on a fresh towel or drying rack, spread flat and let it air dry until it is just damp.

Before you iron, check for any stains or marks. Once you iron the embroidery, it will be difficult to remove spots. Place the piece face down on a dry bath towel. If your iron has a steam setting, make sure it is off. Use a low or medium setting and lightly press the back of the work. “Press” as in pick up the iron put it down the pick it up again and move to new location.

Do not slide the iron over your embroidery as you could snag or warp the fibers. Keep the iron constantly moving stop when the piece is still slightly damp. Lay it face up on the towel and allow it to air dry.

Now it is ready to take it to the framers and become a heirloom your family will love for generations.


so I just finished a piece and it desperately needs to washed and ironed. I used floss for the entire thing I see you mention not washing if it’s floss. But does that include following your tutorial with the dawn? If so, how do I get the wrinkles out

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Donnett H.

You can wash a piece as long as you have not used hand dyed floss or fabric. If you used DMC Floss you are good to wash the piece. Once you have finished washing and pressing it most of the wrinkles should have come out. Any left over wrinkles will be removed once the framer stretches the fabric for framing.

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Marcella P.

i just finished a white piece of stumpwork, but dirty on the wooden frame edge. Should I take it out of the frame to wash? It is only dirty on the one edge.( the flower is three dimensional)

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Donnett H.

Yes I would take it out of the wooden frame to wash it. Once you have it cleaned you can press each of the flower petels as well as the body of the piece.

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Pat J.

how do you remove the fold lines from the canvas

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Donnett H.

What type of canvas are you using? Aida, Waste Canvas, Needlework Canvas? Have you finished stitching?

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Heather B.

This is so helpful, Donnett!

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Kandace R.

I heard that dmc bleeds. Is this true.

I have always been scared to wash the peice once I put so much time into it.

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Donnett H.

I have washed lots (over 20 years of stitching) of pieces that were stitched with DMC and I have never had any of them bleed.

However DMC does leave an echo. If you stitch something in red then have to unpick and re-stitch you could see the echo of the red. But if you use Judy's Boo Boo Stick you can remove most of the echo fibers left behind.

Hope this helps.

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Carrie D.

Great tips!

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