Whether you read online forums, sift through search engine results or chat with your cross stitching friends, discussing what the reverse of your cross stitch looks like is a strangely controversial topic that almost everyone has an opinion on. So what should it look like? Does a messy reverse actually matter in the grand scheme of things?
It's hard to pinpoint where the conflict comes from but really the reverse of your cross stitch seems to reflect the inner workings of your project, the work that has gone into it - the proficiency and even the artistry and skill you have at completing a cross stitch kit.
To guide you through this dilemma, Past Impressions will answer all your questions about the back of your cross stitch project, what it means and when the mess matters!
When Should I Worry?
#1. If you're entering your project into a cross stitching competition, the overall piece is going to be judged as a whole and the level of care, workmanship and technical ability will be taken into account.
Therefore an impressively neat reverse of your kit will be assessed as part of the process, so take care to avoid knots and missed stitches which won't get past the fastidious eyes of the judges. These rules obviously vary if the competition is judging framed or unframed projects so make sure you know the rules!
#2. Keep watch for knots: A few minor knots may not be visible on the front of your project, but if the reverse is absolutely full of unsightly balls of thread they're going to make your carefully constructed pattern look uneven and bumpy, especially when framed.
#3. Sheer, translucent or delicate fabrics need a little extra care as you'll be able to see a lot of the imperfections and mistakes you've made through the pattern and project itself.
Why You Shouldn't Worry
If you're less interested in competitive stitching, it really comes down to personal preference and this subjectivity of mess over neatness is where the contentious issues stem from. If you're a needlework fanatic that has become jaded by the type of comments and scrutiny we're talking about, don't despair!
Cross stitch is a pastime of relaxation - let's not forget - so worrying about endless technicalities and imperfections really undermines the purpose, creativity and individuality of the skill in general.
Whether the back of your project is neat or messy - neither are wrong or right, so carry on with your technique if it works for you and you'll continue to improve. Ignore the noise, put aside any negative thoughts and remember why you love cross stitching with a new project to get stuck in to!