Cross Stitch Finishing Tutorial – The Flat Finish

Flat finishing is the fundamental finish for the [square·ology] series…so we are THRILLED to share a cross stitch finishing tutorial for the flat finish today!

Once you’ve mastered this technique, you can move on to our other complimentary finishing tutorials!

Everyone send a big THANK YOU to Cathy Habermann for writing and photographing the instructions for this tutorial. Cathy(Hands On Design) is an expert finisher AND one of the designers of [square·ology]!

The full cross stitch finishing tutorial is shown below, but you can also download the PDF here.

Happy Finishing!

Flat-Finish Tutorial

Materials & Supplies

[square.ology] stitched piece


cotton batting

Stitchery tape (double-sided acid free)

Lacing thread (pearl cotton #8

or hand quilting thread)

Sharp needles

Rotary cutter

Quilter’s ruler

Cutting mat

Box cutter

Iron & pressing surface



Measure and cut on your cutting mat:

  • With the box cutter, cut the matboard to the desired size (4 3/8”square for 4” designs, 2 1/2” square for 2” designs).
  • With the rotary cutter and quilter’s ruler, cut a matching piece of cotton batting . Cut a second smaller piece of batting if you would like a more cushioned look. Attach the first layer of batting to the matboard piece with double sided tape, lining up the cut edges.  Center the optional second piece of batting on top.
  • Press, then trim your stitched piece approximately 1 1/2” away from the stitched image of a 4” design using the rotary cutter and quilter’s ruler. Leave just 1” of linen around a 2” design.



Lace the needlework

  • Thread your needle with a long length of strong thread. Knot the thread near the end.
  • Center your stitching over the batting side of the matboard. Place face down on your work surface and begin to lace.
  • Fold the upper edge of linen down over the matboard. Anchor a knot in the top right corner of the linen at the edge of the matboard.
  • Secure the first stitch by running the needle in a scooped motion through the linen (needle in and out of linen parallel to the edge of the linen—a scoop is less than 1/4”). Scoop it through again close to the first scoop. Pull the thread tight.  Now your knot will not pull out.



  • Scoop stitch your way across the board, first on the lower linen edge folded up over the matboard, then back up to the top edge—about 1/2” between two scoops. Be careful to pull firmly, but not too tight so as to distort the linen. Knot at the far end.




  • Turn the piece over to the front to make sure that the design is still centered. Move linen around to make any adjustments.



  • Fold the two remaining edges of linen toward the back. You may need to trim away some of the excess corner linen if it appears too bulky. If so, cut away linen from the corner only—and don’t cut any closer than 1/2” from the matboard edge or the cut may pull around to the front.  The linen tends to angle in at the corners as you fold it.  Tuck it in a little as if you are wrapping a package so than the end of the folded edge is at least 1/4” in from the edge of the matboard.  This keeps the edge smooth and neat from the front if you are top-mounting the finished piece.



  • Scoop stitch back and forth to lace the two new folded sides. Sew the angled edges of the new folded sides to the sides already laced.  Knot off and run your needle through the linen about 1” away from knot and toward the center of the piece before clipping the thread.  This helps keep the thread tail from showing on the front of your work.



  • You are ready to flat-finish all of your [square.ology] stitching—to mount with double-sided stitchery tape on all sorts of fun boxes, frames, fobs and wall-hangings!   Show us what you create!



©2015, Hands On Design, Just Another Button Company™    No permission is granted to reproduce these instructions or images for commercial purposes, although shops may distribute the instruction sheet as part of a class or tutorial featuring [square.ology] or other products by Hands On Design or Just Another Button Company.  Permission for other uses must be granted individually and in writing.  The instructions and images may not be published or shared electronically by shops or individuals. Instructions and images are property of Hands On Design and Just Another Button Company.






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