How to Frame Your Cross Stitched Project

cross stitch frame
CC BY by sdixclifford

If you have purchased a book, chart or kit, you will have instructions for at least two or three framing methods. After trying to frame a couple of completed projects, you probably prefer one method over others. In this article, we shall focus on a framing method that yields good results and lasts for years.

But first, let’s consider the aesthetics of framing

A cross-stitched project is special and during the process of stitching you probably have developed a mental picture of how it will look when completed and framed. Features you may consider are, how much unstitched fabric will be visible around the edges of the design, and whether you will use a mat.

If you choose to use a mat you must also decide on the colour, size, and shape as well as whether the design will be enhanced by the use of multiple mats. A mat, even with a very small design, can add drama and focus to your design.

The other major element of your masterpiece is the frame itself. Placing a cheap clip-frame to a traditional sampler will probably not do justice to your hard work. For smaller designs, you may find a suitable ready-made frame for your design in any store that sells frames.

You may even find appropriate frames in thrift stores or yard sales. For larger pictures, it is often necessary to have a frame custom-made at your favourite framing shop.

To make the decision-making process easier, it is a good idea to take your finished project with you to the framing shop where you can try out different mats and framing materials.

The framer may give you options and advice that you did not anticipate. There, you will be able to experiment with the mat colours available as well as options for your frame.

This is a good time to measure your design to determine the inside dimensions of your mat or frame. Once you have made your choices, remember to order a piece of glass to fit your frame.

Before leaving the shop, have a stretching board cut. My personal preference is a grey stretching board approximately one to two inches larger than the design. (You will find that the grey board behind your project will make any threads carried behind blank fabric less visible.) Although you can cut the stretching board yourself, the framing shop can do a more precise cut, which will make the mounting process easier.

Washing your cross stitch piece

With your mind made up, you are ready to prepare your needlework while waiting to pick up your order. First, you should consider washing the piece; oils from your hands could result in discolouration. There may also be dust or other stains on your work.

Fill a basin with warm water to which you have added a few drops of a mild dishwashing liquid. Place the piece into the soapy water and allow it to soak for at least 15 minutes. Remove the needlework from the soapy water and squeeze it gently before placing it in cold water. Do not wring or pull at your project. Rinse your piece at least two or three times or until no soap remains.

Place the wet fabric between the folds of a white bath towel and roll it up, squeezing to remove as much water as possible. With most of the water removed you are ready to place the piece face down on a fresh white towel for gentle pressing. Be careful to use an up-and-down motion rather than side-to-side to avoid distortion of the stitches. You will find that a medium setting on your iron will remove wrinkles from most fabrics except linen, which may require a slightly higher setting. If your design contains any synthetic or metallic fibres you will need to protect the back with a pressing cloth; a piece of cotton, such as muslin, works well.

Mounting your cross stitch piece

You are now ready to mount your needlework on the stretching board. First, centre the board on the back and place stainless steel pins in both sides and each end. With all sides equal, follow the thread line to each corner, placing pins at quarter inch intervals along the edges of your board. Push the pins firmly into the edge of the board to prevent them from falling out as you work your way around.

With your needlework completely pinned, you are ready to attach it to the board. Turn your work face down and place acid-free, double-sided tape along all edges of the back side of the board. Starting in the centre of each side, anchor the fabric to the tape by pulling it snugly over the edge and against the tape. When all four sides are secure, burnish the fabric to the tape. Use acid-free masking tape to secure the edges of the fabric to the board on all four sides and mitre the fabric in each corner. Remove all of your pins and the piece is ready to frame.

If you are using a mat, use your acid-free tape around the inside edge on the back of the mat. Then centre the mat over the design area and press it into place. Turn the mat and needlework face down and use packing tape to provide additional support for your mounted piece. If the project is large, it may be necessary to provide even more support once the piece is placed in the frame. Measuring the distance to the inside edge of the frame and cutting a piece of foam board to fit the space will provide additional support. If using foam board as a filler, it can be secured with either the double-sided tape or packing tape.

Note: NEVER use cardboard for framing; it is composed of unrefined paper with a high acid content.

Next, clean the side of the glass that will be inside the framed piece using non-ammonia glass cleaner and, if possible, a micro-fibre cloth. Paper towels may work as long as no lint or fibres remain on the glass. Place the mounted needlework into the frame and secure all four sides with one pushpoint or brad. Turn the piece over and double-check for any hairs or dust particles.

Once you are satisfied that the inside of the glass is spotless and nothing has crept inside, place more brads or pushpoints into each side of the frame to secure the piece. Next, apply two-sided tape to the back of the frame. Smoothly cover the back of the frame with brown craft paper or wrapping paper and trim the excess with a single-edged razor.

Depending on the size of the framed piece, attach eyelet screws with wire for larger pictures or a saw-tooth hanger for a smaller piece. If using a wire to hang the piece, the placement of the eyelet screws should be approximately one third the distance from top to bottom of the frame. Place rubber bumpers on the bottom corners of large frames to protect the surface of the wall. Finally, clean the outside of the glass.

You are now ready to enjoy your completed framed project.

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