Once your needlepoint's stitched, take a good look at the shape of it. Has the canvas become distorted from all that handling? (( remember my first ever piece of needlepoint, the square that was diamond shaped at the end, I'd tugged so hard at the wool when I'd worked the stitches.) If your masterpiece is obviously mis-shapen you'll need to block it.
It ain't complicated. You'll need a piece of board at least an inch bigger than your canvas all the way round. I've got an offcut of MDF that I use, plus a board that used to form the back of a poster clip frame that wasn't needed when I broke the glass. It doesn't matter what kind of board you use. It just needs to be the kind that doesn't fill your fingers with splinters and is soft
enough to push drawing pins into.
Put your canvas face down on the board. Spray the back with water in a fine
mist, or just use a bunched up cloth to dampen it slightly. Then stretch your canvas back into shape. I find a quilters ruler quite helpful here, to make sure my angles are correct. Canvas is tough, you're unlikely to rip it. As you stretch, you pin. Once your canvas is pinned down,
just leave it alone for a few days. I generally find this is enough to restore
your canvas's shape, but for extra measure you can also paint the back of the
canvas with wallpaper paste. I've also tried PVA glue to give a badly distorted
canvas some extra strength when stretched back.
Once you're happy with the shape, cut out a piece of cardboard ever so
teeny-tiny slightly larger than your design. Lay your canvas face down on the
floor / tabletop. Place your cardboard on top. Then fold the canvas edges over
the back of the cardboard and, using a good very strong thread, lace the sides
together. Think of it as lacing a corset. You're tucking the unsightly edges
away so from the front all the viewer sees is your lovely design.
Then it's a case of choosing your backing fabric and - needlepoint face down,
cardboard on the upper side - laying the fabric on the cardboard. Tuck under
the fabric edges and use dressmaking pins to secure the backing material to the
needlepoint's outer lines. Stitch into place. Or glue, if you'd prefer.
Add a handsome cord or braid around the edges if you wish, and add a loop to
hang the finished piece from.
I hope that all makes sense. It's so difficult to write instructions, but if
you're still stuck try the 'how to do it' sections in any of these books:
'Glorious Needlepoint' by Kaffe Fassett
'Medieval Needlepoint' or 'Romantic Needlepoint' by Candace Bahouth
'Mary Norden's Needlepoint' by - big surprise! - Mary Norden
They're all highly recommended by yours truly, and they're all available via Amazon, if
not your local charity shop or library. Happy stitching!!