Monday, February 25, 2013

Frame It Yourself

The question for many of us stitchers is how we're going to finish our project once we're done stitching it.  We can find all kinds of finishing methods online, but probably the most common one is to frame it for displaying on a wall.  If you've ever had something professionally framed, you know all about the sticker shock involved with that.  There is no question that the quality of professional framing is excellent, with countless choices of mats and frames.  But if you stitch a lot and want to frame a lot, it's good to know another alternative so that you don't have to eat store brand macaroni and cheese every night because your food budget is going to the local frame shop.

I found American Frame online and made the decision to purchase some framing supplies for a small project to frame by myself.  It was surprisingly easy, and I've since framed many projects.  This company has always supplied me with very good quality frames and supplies to do the job correctly.

This past weekend I put my Folk Eggs into a frame and photographed the steps to help you to understand just how easy it was to do.

First, I placed the mounting board (foam core) on a clean surface and then laid the finished work on top.  Then I measured around the edges to get an even margin around the edge of the work, and began to pin.  I use silk or satin pins which go into the side of the foam core easily.  I left them sticking out for the time being. Keep measuring to make sure that the work is centered.
Next, I added pins, still measuring and when it's even all around I start pushing the pins in all the way.
Now is the moment of truth. Place the pinned work into the frame to make sure (once again) that everything is even.  Now is the time to make any adjustments.  Just take pins out a couple at a time and adjust the fabric where needed.  You don't have to unpin the whole thing.  Who wants to do that?
Looks pretty good so far
You can see that I don't have much of a space between the edge of the stitching to the edge of the mounting board.  That's because I chose not to mat this particular project.  You'll have more of a margin if you choose to mat. Now let's do something with all of that fabric.  You can trim some of it off, or leave it as is if it's a manageable amount.  I left mine as is.  Time to start taping.
I use about 1" of Terrifically Tacky (double sided) tape to stick the corners to the mounting board.  Don't pull so tight that the corners pop through the fabric!
Fold edges in one at a time and use enough double sided tape to adhere the edge.
All taped down and placed into the frame
Looks like I could have trimmed some of that fabric to have a little less bulk.  Yeah, probably, but it's not going to affect the framing and I'm not about to go and untape and unpin everything after all that.  Uh-uh.
Here's the part where I need a little help.  Those little glazier points are great for holding the work into the frame but they can be really difficult to put into the wood.  So Mark is my trusty helper at this point.  As a bonus, he also puts the sawtooth hanger on the frame.

Next, you need some kind of backing on that to keep everything clean for many years.  I use plain brown kraft paper.  Well, mine has little stars on it.  Just cut a piece a little smaller than the frame.  Brush on a light coating of white glue on the back of the frame and stick that paper on.  Then spray a little water on the paper.  Really.  When it dries, it's nice and flat.  Just a light spray, don't soak it.
And here's what I ended up with!  Once again, I'm very happy with this frame.  It's kind of a distressed, whitewashed look with tiny bows all around.  It goes perfectly with the Folk Eggs.  And, miracle of miracles, it's all ready for Easter!

As I said before, I chose not to use a mat in this framed piece.  I also decided not to use glass or plexiglass.  I use glass for some projects and both mat and glass for others.  American Frame sells these items, and also cuts everything to order for your project.

I hope that this little how-to helps you if you want to become a DIY framer.  This is just how I do framing, and I'm sure that there are other methods to each of my steps.  I'm always open to suggestions for new or better ways of doing things, and this is no exception.  So let me know what you think!


  1. Thanks for the tutorial. Love your Folk Eggs, too.

  2. I looked at the website with the frames and was happy to see they ship worldwide. Can you tell me what options you choose when ordering a frame for cross stitched pieces... because you need more space for fabric than you would need for a picture... you can e-mail me at biekedhondt(a)

  3. I'd be interesting in knowing the options also please :)

  4. We always frame our own projects. Can't afford it otherwise.

  5. Cathy, thanks for sharing the framing info. We could all go broke if we took all our finished projects to the framer. I think I am going to check this out. Heavens knows I have a lot of candidates.

  6. Thank you so much for this post. I have always been so leery of doing any framing at all. I guess I just have to jump in and go for it! One question I have about framing.....When you do use glass in the frame, do you have any space between the glass and the stitched piece itself?

    LindaLee from
    CrossN' My Stitches

    1. Linda, if you use a mat, that will be your spacer. If you don't use a mat, then you have to use some kind of spacer. You can find these online or at framing supply places. I've used the little stick-on foam bumpers that you use at the bottom of your frame so that it won't mark the wall. I just stick them to the corners of the glass. It's worked well for me the few times I've done it.

  7. That's more or less the same way that I do it too, except that I lace mine on the back rather than taping it.
    Your folk eggs are gorgeous

  8. I bet you would never be able to tell in person that you had framed this yourself. I always dread how expensive it is to take things in and have them professionally framed.

  9. Thank you for the tips! I'm adding the two-sided tape to my shopping list, since I was always afraid of trying to lace my pieces!

  10. Hi Cathy: Haven't visited here lately. Realized today that I need to check on what you are up to. I am so glad I did. You told me about this frame company some time ago and I ordered a couple of frames but haven't used them yet. Thank you for your instructions and pictures, I just might have the nerve to frame the pieces. I enjoy reading your blog even if I'm reading it weeks after you post it.

  11. thanks for your e-mail... I will try them out as they ship worldwide :) (when my budget allows that is)
    good luck on my little giveaway

  12. Thanks for this post; you give great information!

  13. Thanks for this excellent post!

  14. Cathy,
    I have always framed my own pictures...I started cross stitching when I was 16, that would be 36 years ago! it was 1977, and I did not trust anyone with my stitched piece. I found at the age of 17, a pamphlet explaining how heriloom stitcheries had been, I do the whole thing...I wash and iron on a towel, have to be careful with that now as the colors are not all colorfast as they were then. I have even cut my own mats. I went to a frame maker and told them what size I wanted a frame, and she said that i needed to bring in my piece and they would frame it for me. I said, "No, thank you, I know what size of frame I need. She was very offended and said, "Well, what if you are wrong, and Iyou don't frame it properly, and then you won't want the frame and I can't be stuck with a custom frame that you don't like because you don't know what we know!".....I was taken aback and told her that I'd been framing my own items for years, I even lace them on the back and would she be lacing my item after it is properly cleaned and ironed? She didn't know what lacing was....I siad, "I think I'll just go somewhere else, thank you." and left. I supposed I should trust framers. I have even purchased the straight framing material and my husband has made frames for me that are beautiful and I cut the mats. It is very satisfying to know how to do it all. Having said that, I have two samplers I am going to take to a framer, but they are all laced and ready on the foam core board...I am so silly!
    hearts to you!

  15. AND I LOVE your eggs picture....I don't think I have ever stitched anything for....oh....wait! I will ahve to post bout those! Tahnks for the reminder!
    Hearts to you, your stitchery is just gorgeous...It warms my heart!