Cross-Stitch Framing Techniques
These cross-stitch framing techniques are for those who are looking for a simple, nice, and affordable way to frame their work. I do not claim to be a professional, and I’m not a perfectionist. If you are very particular on how it turns out, then it would be worth paying a professional to do it. However, for those who are like me and prefer to DIY because you like to, and because it saves money, then these tips should benefit you.
This is How I Learned
Several years ago a lady taught a class at my church’s women’s organization on how to properly mount and frame. She is a professional framer at the local craft store. In the past I have been an avid cross-stitcher. I had several framed cross-stitches around my house, and had given many cross-stitched gifts, particularly for wedding gifts. However, before the advent of the Internet, I had no idea there was a proper way to not only frame them, but to mount them. My previous attempts at framing was to tape the overlap of the Aida cloth to the back of the cardboard insert on the frame. It works, but there is a better way!
I went to this class with a recent cross stitch that had been a challenge just to find a perfectly square frame for, since it was a round sampler. For supplies I took a piece of foam board the size that would fit inside my frame, and some short, stainless steel pins. You want to be sure you have pins that will not rust. You can use longer ones, but the short ones are easier to use. I have also heard them called silk pins.
I came away thrilled with this beautifully mounted and framed cross-stitch. FYI: the frame was bare wood. I used an acrylic paint watered down to give it a washed look.
Huge Undertaking–But So Worth It!
It took me til many years later to remount and re-frame my other cross-stitches. My main motivation was because I had gone through and painted my entire house from one end to the other, and in the process I had cleaned, re-organized, and re-arranged everything–even on walls. I got into a painting and spray-painting frenzy and painted quite a few things in my house besides just walls. One thing I wanted was for all of my wood frames to be white, so all my cross-stitches came out of their frames to spray paint them. It was the perfect time to finally mount and frame them right!
Spray Painting Frames
This is an easy job. I set my frames on boxes to keep them off the ground. The spray paint dries fairly quickly so you can paint several coats on one side and flip to paint the other when dry, or you can flip and paint each side a coat at a time. You have to set a timer though, because you have to paint within a certain amount of time for re-coating, or wait like 24 hours. (Read the instructions on the can). I like to get it all done as quickly as possible. Then let them sit for at least a day so they aren’t slightly sticky to the touch.
Washing the Cross-Stitch
I don’t know if there is any special way to do this. You can look it up if you’re concerned. I just put them in my clean kitchen sink with a little laundry soap, swished, soaked, and rinsed. Then, being careful not to wring them, I got off as much water as I could and soaked up the excess on bath towels. Then I set them on dry towels on a bed to finish drying.
Next I ironed them and used a little spray-on starch to stiffen them up a bit. You can also spray a Scotch Guard on your sampler if you are concerned about dirt and you aren’t using glass. You would be wise to research the proper way to do that.
I have had my samplers hanging up for an average of 20 years and none of them have ever gotten dirty. However, we don’t have a woodstove, and we don’t smoke. I did wash them before mounting them because I figure I may as well make sure they were clean before I went to the work of mounting them.
Gather your supplies and you are ready to begin!
For the full ‘professional framing look’ you will need:
ruler (preferably a yard-stick one)
needle nose pliers
tape, like painters tape
double-sided tape (preferably a wide tape made for framing)
framing wire (strength depending on weight of picture)
“D” rings with screws (or whatever mounting hardware you choose)
1 long nail (for starting the hole for your screws) & hammer, or an awl tool, or small drill
glazier points (for securing mount board to frame)
glazier point tool
Kraft paper or acid-free backing paper
The next part is to cut foam board in a size to fit in your frame. I purchased my boards at Walmart for about a $1 each. I used an Exacto knife with a piece of cardboard or protective surface under the foam board so as not to damage my table.
Next you place your cross-stitch over the board, centering it. Then using your stainless steel straight pins you start by placing one pin at the center of all 4 sides of your fabric. Next you place one down near the corner on one side, and then directly opposite on the other side, pulling gently to tighten the fabric. Do this near the corners on all four sides, working evenly.
One tip would be to not stick your pins in all the way, especially if they are long pins, so if you have to re-adjust they are easier to take out. Now you can move to spaces in between the pins, working in the center of previously placed pins. Remember to work pins across from each other as you go along til your stretching is even all the way around. Then you can fill in with pins at about 1-2 inch intervals.
Make sure your pins go straight in and don’t come out the back of the foam board.
What to do if the sides of your Aida cloth is too short.
If your Aida cloth is smaller than your frame and mounting board you can sew strips of fabric to each side of your Aida cloth. The following YouTube video by thefrugalcrafter Lindsay Weirich will show you how to sew on the fabric strips and work the mounting pins evenly around the foam board.
When you are done pinning, turn the work to the back and tape the edges of your Aida cloth to the back side using any tape. I used painters tape, hoping it won’t deteriorate as quickly as masking tape does. Don’t worry too much about the corners. You can trim some off it you don’t want it bulky. I had previously done this from prior framing.
I also used the double-side tape just under the edges of my Aida cloth, but this isn’t a necessary step.
Securing Mount Inside Frame
The next step is to place your mounted cross-stitch into your frame in the back side. Using glazier points and a glazier point tool, you push the points into the wood flush with the mount. Work your points evenly around the frame.
Some of the points go in easier, others take a bit of work. If you have extra money you could invest in a fancy electric point tool, but I could not justify a $40 or more purchase for something I would not use that much. For about $13 the point tool was sufficient for me. Plus, it’s easier to store because it doesn’t take up much space.
I could not find the points tool at any local hardwood stores so I purchased mine on amazon. I also purchased my glazier points on amazon, but found them for less money at the hardwood store. So, it just depends.
Paper Backing for a Professional Finish
I love seeing the clean look of the paper on the back of these, even though they rarely come off the walls. It just ‘feels good’ to know they are done well. It supposedly serves as a dust cover to protect what you have framed. But in this case, the foam board protects the back, while the front is exposed to dust–well, that hardly makes sense! It’s more for photos framed in glass. But I loved the finished, professional look, and I had Kraft paper on hand. It didn’t take that much time or effort to add it.
Another thing that is awesome about the paper backing is that you can write any historical information on it about your framed item. i.e. name, dates, where it was made, why that pattern was chosen, where it has hung, who should inherit it, etc.
I simply cut my paper to fit just slightly inside the width and length of the back of my frame. Then using the double-sided tape I applied it to each side, peeled the backing off, then applied my Kraft paper at the bottom and spread it up carefully towards the top.
I enjoyed working with this particular double-sided tape that has a peel-off backing. It was purchased at amazon.com.
I really liked the method for applying the paper backing that Mike over at American Framing used. Now there’s a professional for you! I didn’t see his website when I did mine.
I also love the professional look, and the ease of hanging pictures with the wire and “D” rings. I purchased mine at a local hardware store.
Start by marking your frame about one third of the way down from the top.
I used a big nail to make the hole for the screw to go in, which makes it easier to screw in. Hammer the nail about a quarter inch down. An awl tool or a drill works, too, if you have them.
Next, screw in your “D” ring.
Then do one on the other side at the same distance from the top.
Adding the Wire
Next comes the wire. This is where a YouTube video comes in super handy for seeing just how to do this. This man from fixaframe.com will show you the whole process with the D-ring and wire. (And, he has a nice Australian accent!)
Be sure and leave a little slack in your wire for hanging.
And we’re done!
The lines didn’t come out perfectly straight on mine, but that doesn’t bother me as you hardly notice once it’s on the wall. Part of that may have been due to the tugging of the Aida when I cross-stitched it.
This one is an example of Aida cloth that was too short for the frame it needed to fit in. I came up with this idea to sew the border on long before there was Internet to help me out, as you can see I cross-stitched this in 1997. It’s an even better example of lines that aren’t straight! But when something is your own unique creation it has a right to be unique even in it’s imperfections. Better to create with imperfections than never to create!