Perforated Paper

Finally, I got some stitching done this weekend! I am so excited to be able to stitch ornaments for my family this year. Decided to do a sled for my granddaughters.

Ana loves penguins, so I chose this design by Foxwood Crossings. It is on brown perforated paper.

Stitching on plastic canvas is really similar to perforated paper.

Skye likes snowmen so I am doing this ornament for her.

If you have never worked on perforated paper, it is fun to work with; however, there are some things you should know before you begin.

It is a sturdy, heavy-weight paper that has been carefully punched to create an even grid. While it is pretty sturdy, it is paper and it can rip, crease, and fold. Some perforated paper definitely has a wrong side. If you can feel the edges around the punches, that is the back side.

You do not want knots on the back of your project. So, you can do a loose away knot or tape the tail of your thread to the back and then go back and weave it in when you are done. The plastic canvas doesn’t have as much extra space around it for an away knot. So I am leaving a long tail and carefully catching it in my stitching on the back.

Needle size is critical. You need a needle that is smaller than the holes in the paper. If your needle is larger, it can tear the paper. Your thread size is important as well. The thread needs to go through the hole without tugging and pulling.

One of the hazards of working with perforated paper is it is possible to pull your stitching too tight and rip the paper between holes. One way to avoid ripping the paper is to try to put as many “holes” between your stitches as possible. Some perforated paper designs do long stitches rather than individual cross stitches. If so, if your stitch is long on the front, make it long on the back. Do not zig zag back and forth.

When creating the backstitched lines, try to avoid going over just one hole. This increases tension on that hole and may cause it to rip.

Back Stitch
Back Stitch

The “proper” way to do a backstitch is to come up at 2 and down at 1, then come up at 3 and down at 2. Continue to work across the design in this manner going past the current hole by at least one hole. Do NOT do it like this: Up at 1 down at 2, up at 3 and down at 2, up at 3 and down at 4. This means your fiber is coming up one hole and down the next one, which puts more pressure on the paper than you want.

There may be a time that you do tear your paper. Do not worry. Put a piece of archival quality tape on the back of your piece to cover the ripped area. Carefully punch a hole in the tape and gently stitch that area. I place a second piece of tape over the stitched area to hold the threads in place.

Cleaning your perforated paper after it is done is harder than a project on fabric. The best answer is to do everything you can to keep your hands and area clean while you are stitching. It is not recommended to get your paper wet after stitching. Water can cause the paper to weaken and tear along the stitched lines.

Reading the Pattern

There are some differences when reading a perforated paper design. Many of us are used to cross-stitch diagrams and can readily decipher when a stitch is side-by-side or at the diagonal. It is not quite so easy on perforated paper.

Please take a look at how the perforated paper designs look when there is a cross stitch or when you are skipping a cross stitch then stitching another cross stitch. No perforated holes appear on the pattern. However, if you look at the next example where there are actually two cross stitches skipped, one set of holes will now be shown. This can be very confusing.

Here is a close-up look at a portion of a perforated paper design taught at a past retreat. The flower shows how you can do long stitches rather than all cross stitches in a design.

Sometimes in regular cross stitch I jump around so I can continue to use the same color. (yes, I know that is not the correct way to do this!) However, on my perforated paper projects, I found that when I tried to skip over a couple of rows, I almost always counted the holes wrong. So, I try to stitch everything in order, or at least do the stitches that touch each other.

Maybe one of the best things I love about perforated paper is that finishing is so easy. You don’t have to do any hemming and the cutting is almost mistake proof. The small sled designs are perfect for a tag.

NOTE: You can see the white backing of the double sided tape because I wanted to show you how to finish the sled instead.

Finishing the sleds are so easy! All you need is the sled, your finished stitching, and double sided tape. I prefer the 1.5″ wide tape.

Don’t cut out your design yet. It is easiest to cut your tape a little longer than your design, peel off one side, and stick it to the back of your stitching. Now you want to carefully cut one hole out from the stitching. Sometimes you may need to make a series of little cuts to work around the corners. Peel off the outer paper and lightly position on your sled. This tape allows you to re-position it as needed. Once you are satisfied, firmly press it down.

One ornament done, only a dozen or more to go!

We hope this guide makes your stitching easier and more enjoyable!

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