Finishing Friday: Framing

One of the best things about blogging is finding inspiration in the work of other stitchers. As I think about my own work, one thing I’ve decided is that when it comes to project finishing I am… BORING.  I always frame my cross stitch.  Always.  So… I’ve decided to do a series of posts about different ways that needlework can be finished.  Since I haven’t tried most of these methods, the posts will be mostly my research and maybe some experimenting.  I’m excited to try some new things.  Maybe you’ll be inspired as well 😉

Despite the fact that framing is standard operating procedure for me, I decided to do my first post of the series on framing.  This way I can write about what I know, and expand from there.  So here we go – here are six things to consider when framing your cross stitch or other needlework:

1.  Professional or Do It Yourself?

There are lots of things to consider here including your access to a quality custom framer, the cost, and the size and shape of your project.  I’ve always done my own framing, but I typically stitch pieces that are small and easy to fit in a standard size frame.  There are lots of great tutorials on how to frame up a cross stitch, so I won’t go into detail here. In brief, I’ll say that I use foam board for backing. I first cut it to the size of the frame, then cut out of the center a piece that is just larger than the opening in my mat.  I wrap the stitched fabric around that inner piece and pin it in place with short pins into the side of the foam board (carefully!!).  From there I simply pop it back into the larger piece of foam board for framing.  This method has worked quite well for me.

a piece pinned to foam board and ready for framing

a piece pinned to foam board and ready for framing

2. Materials and Quality

Whether you’re framing your cross stitch yourself or hiring a professional, don’t skimp on quality of materials.  You’ve spent countless hours on your stitching, and that investment of time is worth protecting with acid and dye free archival quality materials. Thanks to the popularity of scrapbooking (at least in my area) acid free archival quality foam board, paper, tape, press board and other materials are widely available.   I also prefer quality wooden frames since they last well and it’s easy to staple paper or cardboard to the back to complete your framing project.

framing tools and materials

framing tools and materials

3.  Size and shape

As I mentioned, I’ve typically stitched pieces that can be put in a standard size frame with a standard size mat.  This is something I usually consider right from the beginning when choosing a project.  Having said that, I’ve seen several websites where you can order custom sized frames and mats and I’d be interested to hear if anyone has used them. Perhaps I’ll try them one of these days.  I’d also like to learn to cut my own mats… this is something I’ll need to research a bit more.

4.  Backing, and to pad or not to pad

When I was a teen and learning to frame a cross stitch, I was taught to wrap my finished piece around a piece of cardboard with a layer or two of cotton batting in between to give it a soft look. My current method is to use foam board and skip the batting but this is definitely a personal preference and I’ve seen beautiful pieces done both ways.

5.  What about glass?

On this I’ve heard two schools of thought.  One is that using glass can trap moisture and cause damage to the fabric over time.  Another is that skipping glass leaves the fabric exposed to dust and grime.  My personal preference is to use glass to protect the piece, though I am always careful to use either a mat or a spacer or both so there is an air gap between the glass and the stitches.

6.  Signing your piece

Finally – don’t forget to sign your precious stitching for posterity!  Personally, I like to backstitch my initials and the year in small stitches at the bottom of the piece in a subtle color.  I then typically finish with a personal message and the date, along with the design information and my signature on the frame backing.

tiny signature

tiny signature


8 thoughts on “Finishing Friday: Framing

  1. opusanglicanum says:

    There’s an online company company called frame express who are excellent. I get the big chunky solid oak frames and with mounts and glass they’re about a third the normal price for custom sizes, and the finish is very good


  2. Mrs P says:

    Thanks for sharing, framing a couple of pieces of my cross stitch is on my to do list, hopefully following your posts I’ll feel more confident in having a go 🙂


  3. stitchingthedream says:

    Your post is brilliant and so helpful. I will have to try frame express although I am a bit nervous about framing my own work unless it is pretty small. I definitely know a bit more about what I am doing after having read your post so thank you 🙂


  4. Abbie says:

    Just found your blog. I have enjoyed reading about your cross stitch. I have subscribed and an looking forward to reading more about your stitching adventures.


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