[HNW] making the back of needlework look like the front

Carolyn Kayta Barrows kayta at frys.com
Mon Jul 18 09:20:31 PDT 2005

>I'm curious as to why you think that "the mark of an expert needlework[er] 
>is that the back looks as good as the front".  This is a holdover from 
>19th century attitudes.  Unless you are trying to make a reversible piece, 
>the back only needs to be secure enough so that the threads do not pull 
>out.  As long as the front looks good, I wouldn't worry about the back.

I'd believe that the back should be "as neat as" the front, but except in 
cases of reversible work I know that the front and back will look different.

I don't think it's fair to expect a modern needlework judge to be able to 
break out of modern convention far enough to disregard the back side of a 
competition submission entirely.  As in, I'd mark a sloppy back down on 
craftsmanship grounds, even if it was period to leave the back side this 
way.  I understand that ends of threads belong on the back side*, and the 
fact that they have to be dealt with, likewise that there may be runs of 
colored thread going from one area to another.  This sort of thing happens 
as a normal part of the process (and modern ideas of neatness may not come 
up to Victorian printed standards).  I'd just expect dealing with these all 
to be done neatly in a competition entry.  And I'd judge it a mark of bad 
craftsmanship, rather than of period scholarship, to see a really sloppy 
back side of that entry.

OTOH, I'd give extra credit points for contemporary documentation on how 
the back side of a historical recreation piece of needlework ought to look, 
even if the back side of the entry was neater looking to my 21st-century eye.

*Yes, there are types of needlework where the ends belong on the front.  I 
think you know what I mean here.

        CarolynKayta Barrows
dollmaker, fibre artist, textillian

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