After the weeks, months and all the creative energy you have invested in your embroidery, it is now time to finish it for framing. Now that I am old, and have experienced the work of many framers, I will confidently say that “If you can do it yourself, then do it yourself”. No one will give your work the care or attention that you will.
Here is how to mount your embroidery ready for framing. Read all the instructions before beginning any part of the procedure.
Use Acid-Free Foam Core Board which is available from an art store or framers. It comes with a matt surface and in two thicknesses – the lighter one is adequate for most embroideries. Choose the heavier one if your embroidery is large – such as over 12 inches in any direction. The Foam-Core Board from the Dollar Store or Office Suppliers has a shiny surface and is not acid-free. It will rot your fabric over time.
Part One. Cut and cover the Board.
- Measure and pencil mark the size of the board. Measure twice!
- Cut once. Place your ruler (preferably with a metal edge) on the piece you are cutting out. If your knife slips, it will not damage the piece you are removing. I use an exacto knife or a quilting wheel both of which I keep just for board cutting. You will need to make several cuts, at least three, to go completely through the board.
- If you already have a frame, cut a sliver off two sides of the board so that it fits loosely in the frame. The felt and fabric will make the board a little larger which can make it too big to fit within the frame. It should fit in comfortably and not be tight.
- Cover one side of the board with felt. Preferably white or the same colour as the background fabric. Place a length of Double Sided Tape along each side of the board to fix the felt in place. Check and remove all wrinkles. Double-Side Tape (DST) is a scrapbooking item.
- Cutaway excess felt leaving about 1/8″ extra to cover the cut edges of the board. Trim a tiny triangle away at the corners to reduce bulk.
- Mark the centres of all four sides with a pencil and join as in the photo below.
The edges of the board in this photo are marked in pink for clarity only. The felt has been trimmed on three sides – the left side is not trimmed. Small triangles of felt are trimmed away on the right-hand side corners.
Part Two. Position and fix your embroidery to the front of the board.
- Place a clean cloth on your working surface as you will now be working on the back of the board with the embroidery face down on the table.
- Place the felted side of the board on to the reverse side of your embroidery. The felt cushions and protects the stitching. Knots and fastening threads sink into the felt where they are safe and invisible.
- Centre your embroidery by matching the midpoints of all four sides to the horizontal and vertical lines on the board. Place a pin through the fabric and into the thickness of the board at those centre points.
- Pull the fabric secure and place pins at both ends of all four sides. Adjust as necessary.
- Put in pins about 1/2″ apart along all four sides.
- Check the front side of your work. Are there any wrinkles? It should be smooth, perfectly centred and show your stitching to perfection. Adjust as necessary.
The backing fabric is now visible. The midline points of the fabric are lined up with the centre lines on the back of the board. All four edges are pinned. At this stage, it looks like a porcupine and thread gets tangled in it very easily.
Part Three. Lacing the long sides together.
- Use Buttonhole or linen thread, crochet cotton or Dental Floss. These all have the least tendency to stretch and will hold the fabric in place the best.
- Your choice – Start in the centre or at one end. Right-handed – work right to left – left-handed, start at the left end. I prefer to use straight stitching as in the photo but herringbone is an alternative.
- You will need a very, very long length of thread. To start in the centre, measure off two or three yards, thread the end in a needle, take a stitch as indicated in the photo, pull the thread through and then, take another stitch directly opposite on the other long side. Continue until about 1/2″ from the end of the board.
- Note how much thread you have used, measure that amount off the reel you will need for the other half and cut the thread. Thread the needle, reverse the fabric and board and repeat lacing the other half of the long sides stopping 1/2″ from the shorter edge of the board.
- Take the slack out of the lacing thread for the first time. You will be amazed at how much extra thread you pull up.
Part Four. Corners. Follow the photo above.
The lacing thread is hard to see in this photo. It is preferable to use a neutral coloured thread rather than a contrast. I started at the top right and laced it to halfway across. Try to have one continuous thread length. Having to knot in a new length is a pain. The knot is always in the wrong place and causes problems. Complete the lacing of the two long sides.
Take out the slack for the second time and secure the ends of the thread by taking a few small stitches into the fabric.
In the photo above, note the bottom right corner where the fabric has been cut.
On the long side, that is being laced, cut the fabric about 1/4″ inside the edge of the board. Note that the cut stops about 1/4″ before the long edge of the board and the fold in the fabric. Place a short piece of DST under the cut edge to keep it in place.
- 1. Continue cutting to remove a square of fabric from that corner. This next cut is 1/4″ from the fold as indicated in the diagram below.
- 2. Turn the fold over to create a hem that is wider than 1/4″.
- 3. Pin in place. The redheaded pins on the right side show where the hem is turned under. You may want to use your awl to tuck in any extra fabric at the point of the corner. The left corner has not yet been trimmed and turned.
- 4. Repeat for all four corners. Hemstitch the fold in place as indicated in the photo below.
- Lace the short sides. Take the slack out of the lacing threads twice. The thread should be firm but not so tight that it warps the board.
- Fasten off the lacing threads.
- Remove all the pins if you have not already done so!
Describing how to do this is more complicated than it is to work. Actually, it is fairly quick and easy to do. It is also possible to fold and cut the fabric diagonally on the corners in the traditional ‘mitre’ method.
This method is easier, gets rid of the fabric bulk on the corners and produces a neat and flat finish
If your piece of stitching is small; ie, 6″ x 4″, the size of a postcard, you do not need to do any lacing. Use DST instead. But do follow this procedure for the corners.
It is now ready to install in a frame or take to the framers. Make sure they notice what a good job you have done.!
Pat harwood says
Thank you for those instructions on “preparing your work for framing”. They are excellent. I am going to print the pages and keep them in a safe place for future reference. Also, I will remind myself in pencil that DST stands for double sided tape. thanks Ann. You did a great job. Pat
Ann Bernard says
Pat, Thank you for your positive feedback. Copying and printing this for when you need it is a good idea. The method works well. You just need to be careful when doing the second cut on the corner.