This section is from the "The Ladies' Work-Table Book: Domestic Needlework in Nineteenth-Century America" book, by Margaret Vincent. Also available from Amazon: The Ladies' Work Table: Domestic Needlework in Nineteenth-Century America.
This is a subject which must be carefully attended to, or much unnecessary trouble will be incurred in consequence.
The canvas must be hemmed neatly round : then count your threads, and place the centre one exactly in the middle of the frame. The canvas must be drawn as tight as the screws or pegs will permit; and if too long, should be wrapped round the poles with tissue paper, to keep it from dust and the friction of the arms, as that is essential to the beauty of the work. It must in all cases be rolled under, or it will occasion much trouble in the working. When placed quite even in the frame, secure by fine twine passed over the stretchers, and through the canvas very closely; both sides must be tightened gradually, or it will draw to one side, and the work will be spoiled.
Stretch your cloth in the frame as tight as possible, the right side uppermost.
The canvas on which you intend to work, must be of a size to correspond with the pattern, and must be placed exactly in the centre of the cloth, to which it is to be secured as smooth as possible. When the work is finished the canvas must be cut, and the threads drawn out, first one and then the other. It is necessary to be especially careful in working, not to split the threads, as that would prevent them drawing, and would spoil the appearance of the work. In all cases, it is advisable to place the cloth so as that the nap may go downward. In working bouquets of flowers, this rule is indispensable.
The patterns for cloth work should be light and open. It looks well for sofas, arm chairs, etc., but is by no means so durable as work done with wool, entirely on canvas.
Prepare the frame, and brace the canvas as for cross stitch, only not quite even, but inclining the contrary way to that in which you slant your stitch. This is necessary, as tent stitch always twists a little. This method will cause the work, when taken out of the frame, to appear tolerably straight. Should it after all be crooked, it should be nailed at the edges to a square board, and the work may then be pulled even by the threads so as to become perfectly straight. The back of the work should then be slightly brushed over with isinglass water, taking care not to let the liquid come through to the right side. A sheet of paper must be placed between the work and the board, and when nearly dry, another must be laid upon it, and the whole ironed with a warm iron, not too hot, or the brilliancy of the colors will be destroyed.
Some persons use flour instead of isinglass, but it is highly improper, and should never be restored to.