Mounting and Framing Your Needlework

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by: Katrina Renouf

To start with, I want to state that I am not a professional framer, and many of the tips I am about to give are things I have learned from other people, and I have not necessarily had a chance to try them all myself.

Frames are extremely easy to find, and they can be very cheap as well. In my opinion, the best places to find them are at yard sales. People are always trying to sell old pictures that they no longer like, and you don't need to like them either, as long as the frame is nice. Often you can get them for under a dollar! Thrift stores are another good place to look; I love going to dollar stores just to see what I can find. If you're in a rush, you can always go to Wal-Mart of K-Mart and pick up something for a couple dollars too. It isn't necessary to have glass in the frame, but if you're not going to use glass, make sure to Scotchguard your work to prevent staining.

The first step in framing is to decide whether you want to use either a padded or non-padded mounting board (I have heard that if you're not using glass, a padded mounting board looks great). Then cut the mounting board about 1.8 in. smaller than the back inside measurements of the frame. This gives you room to fold over the fabric. Next you need to center your needlework. There are a few different ways to do this. One is to eye the center and pin the fabric to the board, then count the fabric threads between the edge of the design and the pin you placed. This will make it very accurate, but some people would find it too time consuming. Another way to do it is to measure the mounting board and stick a pin into the very center; then put the center of the needlework on the pin too.

There are two main ways to mount your needlework. The first one is the easiest, but also has more of a chance of damaging your work over time. The other option takes more time, but is relatively risk free. To start with, I will explain the easy way. It involves using a sticky mounting board. There is also a great trick to save you some money. You can use the cardboard backing that came with your frame and just put some spray adhesive on it. There are two kinds of spray adhesive, repositionable and permanent, so be careful if you use the permanent, because you can't move it once it's in place (hence the name). Once it's in place, remove the excess fabric so it is only 1.5 in. over the edges of the board, and use masking tape to fold it over to the back. This keeps the fabric from fraying.

The second way to mount your needlework takes a lot more time, but can be worth it. Some stitchers have found that when using the first method, the spray adhesive has yellowed their work, sometimes in as little as six months. Lacing the needlework down is a popular way to attach it to the mounting board, I would suggest that if you are going to do this, to machine stitch around the sides about 1/4 inch in from the raw edge as this will help prevent the fabric threads from tearing out when you are pulling the lacing. To lace the back of the needlework, you will need a tapestry needle and strong thread. I generally recommend lacing the longest side of the fabric first. To start, make several small stitches at the top, right where the long side meets the top edge of the mounting board (about 1/4 inch in from the raw edge). This will anchor your thread. You then draw the thread all the way across to the opposite side about one inch below where you came from, so it's not completely straight across. I've heard it compared to lacing a shoe with one lace instead of two. Work your way down the sides, going back and forth, stopping every three to five stitches so you can pull it uniformly tight. Make sure you don't break the fabric! When you're finished the two long sides, again anchor your thread by making several small stitches in the fabric. You'll then want to do the same thing on the short sides of the fabric. This will make the fabric stay on and ensure that it is tightly pulled so no wrinkles will show up on the front.

When your mounting is finished, just put your needlework in the frame, put the backing on, and enjoy your finished project!

About The Author

Katrina Renouf is the owner and webmaster for