Tips and Tricks When Framing Needlework

Crazy about needlepoint? After you have painstakingly stitched your way through a piece, the next step is for you to frame your work. Of course, you need to use the proper methods for framing the completed project so that all your careful needlework efforts will not go in vain. Also, placing your work into a frame ensures that it is protected from dust and dirt.

Here are some things you need to remember when framing needlework:

  • Wash your finished piece. Your finished needlework will usually have faint smudges and traces of dust from handling as well as from exposure. This process is important so that you have a clean-looking piece once the work is framed. Do NOT wash the piece like you would do any type of cloth! Rather, treat it gently to avoid fraying and causing the thread colors to fade. Take a bowl of lukewarm water. Mix a little soap (a gentle liquid soap or baby soap). Soak the piece for around 10 minutes. Gently rinse the piece in clean water. If there is a particular problem area in the piece, before you soak it, spot-treat it by gently rubbing some soap into it. Avoid squeezing or rubbing the piece. Take a clean, folded towel and place the piece in between the fold. Once most of the excess water is removed, give it time to air dry.
  • Press your piece. Take the washed piece. Plug in the iron and check to see that its settings are not too hot, otherwise you may burn the piece. Lay the piece face down on a small towel or a piece of flannel. Lay the iron gently. Avoid pushing into the piece, just lift and press, one section at a time. Once you are done, turn the piece to press the wrinkles out.
  • Choose the right frame. Vintage picture frames usually work very well for most needlepoint pieces. The dainty and sometimes elaborate woodwork provide a great counterpoint for embroidered flowers and birds, cross-stitched landscapes and even portraits. Also, consider the shape of the frame. A round picture frame is ideal for a lot of needlepoint pieces, as the shape of the frame mimics a needlepoint hoop.
  • Other considerations:
    • Glazing. Consider adding acrylic glazing to the frame – this type of glazing is durable, break-resistant and lighter than normal glass.
    • Matting. Matting serves as a frame within the frame and can add to the visual impact of the framed needlepoint. Matting also prevents the threads from being squished too tightly onto the surface of the glazing.
    • Spacers. If you want to maximize the decorative area of the frame, you can skip using the matting and just add some spacers. Spacers are cardboard or plastic strips that help to flatten the work and to also add a bit of space in between the glass and the mounted piece.
    • Additional space/depth. Check that the depth of the frame can accommodate the mounted work, the backing, the glazing, as well as the matt board. If you want to add other decorative elements such as pearls, sequins or beads, you should also allow for additional depth in the frame.
  • Choose the right colored frame. When choosing the color of the frame, you need to consider both the colors of the piece, as well as the overall color motif of the room. The color of the frame should complement these colors so that you get a seamless and aesthetically pleasing look.
  • Gather the necessary materials. You will need some brass pins or some needle and thread, a foam core board (that will serve as the mounting board), a craft knife and a steel rule.
  • Attach the piece onto the mounting board. Using the inside opening of the frame, cut your foam core board with the craft knife so that the board can fit into the opening. Make sure that you cut a slightly smaller shape, to provide an allowance for the space needed by the needlework piece. Fold the edges of the piece over the foam core board. Check that the image being displayed is centered on the board, with an equal amount of space in all four sides. Take a couple of pins and secure the piece at the top and bottom. Make sure that it is a snug fit. Repeat for the left and right edges of the piece. Take a needle and thread and secure the folds. Create crisscrossing stitches from one side to the other. Repeat the same for the other pair of edges. Make sure that the corners are securely stitched together, with any corners trimmed in place.
  • Attach the board to the frame. Now you can attach the mounting board to the frame. Putting the frame face down, install the layers in proper order. If there is glazing included, this should be the layer that is placed first, then the matting, then and the mounting board with the needlework. Make sure that these layers have a snug fit so that it does not move about. Lastly, secure the backing board by pulling down the steel tabs at the back of the frame. Viola! You are now ready to hang your framed needlework in a place where it can be enjoyed.
11th Mar 2016 Eric Morgan

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