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


WIP Wednesday: Heart of Christmas

Time for an update!  I set this cross stitch project down for May and most of June, but I’ve picked it up again over the past few weeks.  Previous posts about Heart of Christmas can be found here and here.

This is Heart of Christmas by Stoney Creek stitched over 2 on Stoney Creek Clear Sky Dyed Fabric 28 ct.

Heart of Christmas 7.15 4

overall progress as of today


Heart of Christmas 7.8.15 1

a closer look at Mr. Snowman


Heart of Christmas 7.15 2

patchwork heart

Six Ways to Fight Stitcher’s Block

Like many of life’s activities, I think that cross stitch and other creative endeavors can have seasons.  I’m not talking about calendar seasons, but seasons in life.  There are high and low periods in life when it comes to creativity.  There are also life seasons when commitments and responsibilities can simply overwhelm us and prevent us from setting aside time for hobbies.  For me, though, I know that when I don’t have a creative outlet, I miss it.  I have found that when I am tired or overwhelmed, I am not motivated to work on a project, but then because I neglect my creative needs, I end up feeling even more overwhelmed.  Because I lack energy, I miss out on the opportunity to feed my creative side, which means I end up with even less energy and motivation, and the cycle continues.


So while there will always be times when I’m simply too busy to work on creative projects like cross stitch, there are other times when if I could just pick up a project and get started, the benefits of increased energy and satisfaction would outweigh cost of the time invested.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – why is it that even if I have moments all day when I wish I could pick up a hoop and needle… when the evening comes and I have the time, some days I simply can’t summon the energy to get started?  I’ve decided to label this phenomenon in my life as “stitcher’s block” and have given some thought to what might help work through it.
Here are some ideas I’ve tried over the past few months (which have been a stressful period for me).  While certainly what works for each person will be different, maybe if you ever have “stitcher’s block”, some of these might work for you!


 1. Get inspired


I love (LOVE, LOVE) looking at photos of beautifully done cross stitch. So for me, this one is huge. Cross stitch eye candy is a great way to get motivated.  I spend a few minutes reading some favorite cross stitch blogs, clicking away on Pinterest or browsing any of my favorite cross stitch supply sites, and I am motivated to get to work! One word of caution: if you’re easily sucked into internet browsing, you may want to be careful that you don’t get so engrossed in your inspiration that you never actually pick up a needle. 😉  And this brings us to item 2…


2. Set aside 15 minutes


Sometimes at the end of a long day, the idea of working on a project (especially a big project) is overwhelming.  I’m exhausted and cross stitching can feel like one more thing to do.  I’ve found that just sitting down and stitching for 15 minutes gives me a sense of accomplishment that can break through a period of low energy.  Sometimes I’ll actually stop after 15 minutes – a few threads are enough.  Other times I get drawn in and will stitch for longer.  But either way, committing to just a few minutes can help break the block.


3. Make it easy


If you know you have to dig through your stash (or even hunt all over the house!) to find what you need in order to get stitching, it’s going to be a lot more difficult.  Keep all of the items you need to do a project (and I mean everything!) in one place, preferably near your favorite chair!  I keep a small project bag for each cross stitch or embroidery I am working on.  My project bag has the work in progress, the appropriate hoop or frame, a binder with the floss and pattern, and a small kit with scissors, needles, a needle minder and a pen or highlighter.  I also use a small light that hooks onto my hoop or frame and I keep this and a pretty glass jar for my orts (leftover floss) within easy reach of my chair.  I keep all of My project bags in the living room, near my favorite chair and am currently on the lookout for a nice basket for them…


4. Clean out your stash 


Mess and clutter can be overwhelming.  For me, I have noticed that being surrounded by clutter is a major energy drain.  If look at my cross stitch stash / supply storage and feel overwhelmed by the clutter, this can drain my creative energy.  Why not use a case of stitcher’s block as a chance to clean out? As you go through your stash, perhaps you’ll find a work in progress that you’ll be inspired to finish!  Or maybe you can use this as a time to set up your project bags.


5. Use a binder, journal or online organizer


Besides cleaning out your cross stitch stash, another way to battle a feeling of being overwhelmed is to use a cross stitch journal, binder, or online organizer.  Personally, I use Evernote to organize many things in my life and it could definitely be used as a project journal.  For my stitching projects, however, I prefer a paper binder.  I have  pages for projects, wish lists, inventories and ideas/sketches for projects I’d like to design.  If you are the type of person who loves to organize or record things, this might work for you.  Whether you prefer digital or paper, try a cross stitch journal and see what you think!


6. Make a wish list


Whether this is a paper wishlist in your cross stitch journal (see #5 above) or an online wishlist at your favorite stitching supply website, try a little window shopping and see if this gets the creative juices flowing! I love to check out my wishlist periodically, update the patterns and fabrics I’d like to have someday, remove patterns that no longer appeal to me, etc.  Inevitably when I’m through browsing I want to pull out a project and stitch away!


These are some ideas that have worked for me.  What about you?  What do you do to help during periods of low energy?

Stitching Outside the Box: 1st try at freestyle

Thanks to the wonders of the internet and all the beautiful embroidery on Pinterest, Etsy, etc., I’ve been itching to try freestyle hand embroidery for some time.  While I’ve cross-stitched since I was a child, I’ve never tried any other type of embroidery, and the idea of being able to stitch more free-form really appeals to me.  So I snagged a discount copy of “The Stitch Bible” by Kate Haxell at an after Christmas sale in January and started searching around for my first pattern to try.

While I love the idea of creating an original piece (as in, drawing a pattern, tracing it, choosing colors, etc.), I decided that for my first time out I wanted to try something a bit easier.  After drooling over patterns on Etsy for several days, I settled on a design by a lovely shop called Clementine Patterns and purchased an easy sampler called “Bless the Lord.”  Their patterns come already printed on a piece of cotton fabric (saving me a step for my first project), along with a guide which suggests what stitches you might use and some possible colors.  It all comes in a lovely little package with a color print of the model.

My first step was to choose colors.  I stuck fairly close to their model, but my colors tend more to jewel tones.  Here they are:

My colors for "Bless the Lord"

My colors for “Bless the Lord”

So far, I’ve really enjoyed myself.  It takes a bit more concentration that cross stitch in order to keep the stitches even, so I’m doing it in small doses.  Here’s what I have so far.



I also purchased a more difficult sampler at the same time.  If I make it through both of those, I’ll feel ready to take on a more complex project.  🙂