How to Frame Your Cross Stitch - FeltMagnet - Crafts
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How to Frame Your Cross Stitch

Kymberly loves to dive into many hobbies: productive gardening, crafting, sewing, reading, and everything Japanese.

The safest way to beautifully display your finished cross stitch, embroidery or needlework projects is to put them in a frame.

Small designs also make beautiful gifts, and by framing it yourself you can keep the cost of the gift to a reasonable amount.

It is easy to make sure your work is treated carefully when you frame it yourself, ensuring there will be no problems in the years to come.

You don't want your finished masterpieces to hide away in a box or cupboard forever!

Framed cross stitch - Celtic Seasons

Framed cross stitch - Celtic Seasons

Problems with professional framing

Professional framing costs a lot of money, and there is no guarantee that they will actually take care of the fabric.

I have seen some very poor results:

  • The fabric wasn't secured at all - the extra fabric hung down behind the frame.
  • The fabric was cut and stapled - the tension frayed the fabric and the staples rusted.
  • The fabric was glued to the foam-core board - the glue stained the fabric yellow within a short time, and could not be cleanly removed.
  • Double sided tape was unevenly applied to the fabric, then stretched - the design was not positioned well, it left sticky residue on the fabric, and the tape could not be re-used.
  • The mats used behind and in front of the fabric were not acid free - the fabric stained over time.
Finished, cleaned, laced and framed cross stitch. I'm so happy it is out of its dark box!

Finished, cleaned, laced and framed cross stitch. I'm so happy it is out of its dark box!

Framing tips

  • Choose a frame the complements your design.
  • Choose a neutral mat color for the mat next to the frame.
  • For the mat next to the design, choose a color that matches one used in the cross stitch, or a lighter variation. You can use multiple neutral mat colors if you prefer.
  • The width of the mat directly next to your design should be at least as wide as your frame. The width of the front mats should be slightly smaller, letting you see contrasting mat colors, if used.
  • Use plain glass, and avoid non-reflective glass which can mute the colors and make the edges in a design appear blurry.

Buying a needlework frame

You need to ensure that your frame is deep enough to fit the following layers:

  • glass, protecting from dust and smoke.
  • 2-3 acid-free mats, protecting your fabric from the glass.
  • your laced cross stitch on an acid-free foam-core mounting board.
  • a sheet of acid-free paper, mat or foam-core board, protecting the back of the fabric.
  • solid backing - some frames may have only bend-able, metal clips, others have a solid backing layer.

You can either buy a pre-made frame with glass, if you can find one that fits your design. Or you can have a custom-made frame assembled, and the glass cut to size.

Many framing shops and even some DIY warehouses have a wide variety of frames and mat colors.

I usually purchase custom-made frames with the glass cut to size for large and unusually shaped projects. I don't have the tools for frame and glass cutting!

For both custom and pre-made frames, I like to cut the front mats and the foam-core board myself. I can use the left-overs for smaller projects, or to provide extra space under the glass, protecting beaded needlework.

Wash with needlework soap that doesn't leave a residue - prevent running colors and yellowing fabric after it is framed.

Wash with needlework soap that doesn't leave a residue - prevent running colors and yellowing fabric after it is framed.

Preparing the needlework for framing

Make sure you have enough extra fabric around the design so it can be laced over a foam-core board before framing.

If there is not enough fabric to provide adequate tension, you may be able to carefully machine or hand sew extra fabric around the edges.

Cleaning

By cleaning, drying, ironing and stretching your completed cross stitch, it will be in the best condition for framing. Washing removes dirt and skin oils that remains on the surface after stitching.

Use a gentle, phosphate free soap, formulated for washing needlework, cross stitch, silk fabrics, and quilts.

Important: Test your threads and fabric before washing to make sure the colors do not run.

Washing and drying

  1. Gently wash your finished piece. Don't wring the fabric to dry it - gently roll it in a clean, white, fluffy towel.
  2. Lie the damp fabric flat to dry inside, away from sunlight. Alternatively, hang with pegs evenly spaced along the top edge.

Ironing and stretching

To avoid stains, make sure the towel, fabric and iron are completely clean before pressing.

  1. When completely dry, lay the cross stitch with the design side down on a clean, fluffy white towel. This will avoid compressing the design when it is ironed.
  2. Lay a white or cream-colored tea towel, muslin cloth, or piece of calico fabric on the back of the cross stitch, and iron on a low to medium heat setting.
  3. To remove stubborn creases, if your threads and fabrics are colorfast, you may be able to safely use steam while ironing. Stretch the fabric evenly while ironing to get rid of extra-stubborn creases.

Important: Allow the cross stitch to dry completely after ironing, flat and un-creased, for a few days before framing.

Preparing the frame and mats

Remove the glass from the frame before you begin.

You may like to place the front mats and frame over the design, so you can decide how wide to cut the mats - note these measurements as you make them.

  1. Cut the foam-core board to fit inside the frame, with a sharp knife. Don't make it a tight fit - the fabric will wrap around this board.
  2. Measure and cut the mats that will be placed in front of your cross stitch with a sharp knife. They should fit snugly in the frame.

    Often, the inner edge of these mats are cut at a slight angle, as you can see in the photo.
  3. Cut the lowest mat (the one next to your design) so that it is wider that the mat above. You can then see the contrasting mat colors, if used.

    If your design needs extra space to protect it from the glass, use narrow off-cuts to provide extra depth.
  4. Place the glass back in the frame, followed by the mats in order from the most narrow to the widest.

Mounting the needlework

To make the design stay flat and even, tension needs to be applied to the fabric.

Although it is popular and easy to apply, acid-free mounting tape can be difficult to remove, leaving a residue which may discolor over time.

I prefer to lace the back of the cross stitch - this is a damage-free and reversible process.

How to lace a cross stitch

  1. Center the cross stitch on the foam-core board with the design facing outwards, and pin it in place with sharp stainless steel pins. Start in the middle of each edge and pin towards the corners to apply even tension. These pins will be removed after lacing.
  2. Turn the board over. Along the long edges, fold the extra fabric over the back of the foam-core board.
  3. Using a strong, neutral-colored sewing thread, and needle with a strong eye, hand sew the two folded edges together in a zig-zag pattern, tightening the fabric evenly as you sew. Use enough tension in the thread to keep the design lightly stretched.

    Stitch at least 2cm (1") from the edge of the fabric. This will avoid the fabric fraying and help maintain an even tension.

    Start and finish about 2cm (1") from the edges of the foam-core board. Too much tension at the corners can round the corners of the foam-core board and distort the design.
  4. Fold the extra fabric towards the back on the shorter sides, keeping the corner folds neat. Hand sew the two edges together, once again keeping the tension even.

    Try to avoid catching the lacing and fabric underneath, as this can make the tension uneven.

Framing and hanging the cross stitch

Tidy the back of the cross stitch, finish the framing, and then hang your finished work.

  1. Remove all of the stainless steel pins. Even though they are stainless steel, they may still corrode over time and cause stains.
  2. If necessary, tidy the corner folds to be as neat and flat as possible. I found it easier to use a pair of tweezers.
  3. Put the laced cross stitch into its frame.
  4. Cover the back with a layer of acid-free paper, mat or foam-core. This protects the fabric and the lacing from damage and dust.
  5. Choose a place to hang your framed cross stitch, and hang from a heavy duty picture hook or picture hanging wire.

Enjoy seeing your completed project!

Quilted frames for cross stitch projects

A more casual and less protective option to framing is to make a quilted pillow or cushion with your finished cross stitch or needlework project.

Comments

If you have any tips and tricks for framing your needlework, let us know in the comments below!

Comments

Cara S on June 06, 2019:

Thanks for the information on framing your cross stitch. I used it as a resource link in my article about how to wash your Aida cloth. https://sewingsociety.com/how-to-wash-cross-stitch...

. on April 09, 2019:

Amazing lessons thanks for sharing your knowledge. I have a question.

Can i use aida cross stitched fabrics on quilts? If i used it on a baby quilt will or be okay to wash regularly? Thanks much

Lily on March 24, 2018:

This is amazing! Thank you!

A few questions:

1) How did you cut the slanted edges of the mat?

2) Where do you get custom frames?

Thanks!

Martha on June 21, 2017:

Thank you. Very helpful. I just wanted to add a comment I heard and tried with success. Soaking the needle work in vinegar water Prevents colour bleeding and fading. Tried and true

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on September 09, 2016:

Hi Pam,

For a simple frame and double mat with glass, I paid AUD$250 for a mid-sized cross stitch (teddy bears). Both the cost of the frame and framing complexity could have been a lot more expensive - this was the bottom of their price range.

To cut the glass, frame and mats to size for this particular cross stitch which is smaller (Celtic Seasons), I paid the equivalent of AUD$150, and had to re-do most of their work (they stuck the cross stitch down with double sided tape, it was not centered and not flat). Had I just got the frame and glass cut, and they didn't try to 'mount' the cross stitch, it would have cost me about AUD$100.

For my more recent cross stitches (Kats by Kelly, about the same size as Celtic Seasons) I bought pre-fabricated glass frames for about $20, mats for about $20 and did it myself.

Pam on September 08, 2016:

Yes but how much does it cost to .have an embroidery framed

Lynsey Hart from Lanarkshire on December 17, 2015:

Some great tips here! I can't wait to get into cross stitching as I love the quirky designs you can create. Framed cross stitch art looks so quirky and cute that I'm sure ill have loads hanging in my house in no time at all!

Nico from Ottawa, ON on May 07, 2015:

Wonderful article. I had a few pieces professionally framed but it got just too expensive! I will have to try framing myself sometime!

craftybegonia from Southwestern, United States on July 26, 2014:

Very nice way to preserve your beautiful hard work!

Ana Maria Orantes from Miami Florida on July 24, 2014:

Hello miss niflserff. I like your hub. I took a class in a California college a few years ago about framing the mat. I like your video. Excellent work. I like how the instructor from Logan explained the framing from the outside, and how he secure the entire frame to hang. He does a fine work of art. You did a great job on your hub. You did a beautiful work of art on the cross stitching and framing. Thank you for sharing your art.

Krista Schnee from Wichita, Kansas on June 28, 2013:

Great information, and the cross stitch itself is beautiful. It makes me want to start doing cross stitch again!

Jessica Peri from United States on June 08, 2013:

This is very detailed, and your cross stitch is beautiful! It makes me want to look into cross stitch. Voted up!

Kevin Peter from Global Citizen on May 31, 2013:

You have explained well the instructions. I loved the hub. I have a picture to be framed. Now the job seems much easy. Thanks.

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on May 21, 2013:

vibesites - I'm terribly clumsy too! It's surprisingly easy to frame your own, at least the lacing part is! You just need to purchase the right-sizes frame and cut down acid-free mats (or get them cut for a small fee). Thanks!

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on May 21, 2013:

Healthmom - Thanks! I have a huge pile of unfinished projects too!

vibesites from United States on May 20, 2013:

I have just finished my crosstitching but I haven't begun the framing part yet cos I'm too clumsy when it comes to these things. Thanks for your guide, looks like they're easy to follow. Up and useful. :)

healthmom on May 20, 2013:

Very helpful and well written. I know it costs a lot to get cross stitch professionally done, so this will save some money. Now to just finish the project.... :)

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on March 01, 2013:

Thanks Mary! If you get the acid-free boards for textile arts, then they are safe to use. I personally didn't have luck getting my cross-stitch to sit flat and even when I used the sticky foam core boards, so I stick to standard acid-free foam core now. Have fun!

mary on March 01, 2013:

This tutorial is sooooo helpful. One question - Are the acid-free , peel & stick foam core boards for textile art (embroidery, cross stitch, needlepoint, crewel) safe to use?

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on October 11, 2012:

Hi Tapria - Glad I could help! The cross stitch is called Celtic Seasons - it was easy and fun to stitch!

Tapria on October 11, 2012:

Thanks for the help. What is the name of the picture I love it!!

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on September 14, 2012:

Pamela - Have fun with the framing! I'd love to see some of your work!

Pamela Dapples from Just Arizona Now on September 12, 2012:

This is excellent, excellent, excellent. I need it. I'm bookmarking it, voting up and sharing.

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on August 27, 2012:

Venderleelie - Happy to inspire a fellow crafter! I'd put off framing (and lacing) my work for so long, partly because I was intimidated - but it was really easy, and resulted in a fantastically even surface - much better than using sticky tape!

Vanderleelie on August 14, 2012:

Excellent step-by-step instructions. I am new to this craft, and have just completed my first project. This hub has helped me to prepare my work for framing. Thanks for the useful tips!

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on April 25, 2012:

Michelle - Thank you so much! Over $400 for a framing job -- ouch! My first pro-framing quote was $250, and I was horrified. I was much happier that this one cost me around $60.

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on April 25, 2012:

Stephanie - Thanks! It is certainly possible to frame any (and all) fabric pieces this way. The main thing to consider is how much depth you need from the fabric to the glass -- stumpwork or pieces with large beads need very deep frames.

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on April 25, 2012:

DoMaat - Happy to be useful! Have fun framing your projects -- it's so much better than having them hidden in a cupboard!

Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on April 25, 2012:

Susan - Thank you! Red bleeding into the fabric -- ouch! How did you fix it?

Pre-washing skeins before stitching is a great idea, not only to get rid of dye, but also to prevent possible thread shrinkage when washing the project before framing.

Michelle Taylor from New Jersey on April 17, 2012:

Fantastic hub! Excellent attention to detail and I love how you broke down every step. Also the pictures are perfect as I am usually a very visual person so it was great to actually see the process. I like to cross stitch and recently spent $220 after 57% off to have it framed! Next time I will try to do it myself using this as a guide.

Stephanie Henkel from USA on April 15, 2012:

I really appreciate your tutorial on how to mount and frame cross stitch as it seems like it would be useful for any fabric piece. Voted up and useful!

Melissa Flagg COA OSC from Rural Central Florida on April 14, 2012:

Great tips, I have two cross stitch projects that are finished by I have yet to frame them because I didn't know exactly how. Your hub has given me very detailed instructions and I thank you!

Voted up, useful, interesting and shared.

susanm23b on April 14, 2012:

This is a great, detailed hub! In one cross stitch project I did years ago, some of the red stitches bled onto the fabric. Since then, I always wash the new skeins before I stitch to wash away that excess dye. This lessens the chances of bleeding later.

Voted up! Useful!

RTalloni on April 14, 2012:

This is a fabulous tutorial on framing cross stitch that will be helpful to many crafters! Thanks for specific details that will give a professional finish to a project. Up, obviously!