14 October 2016

Do-It-Yourself Framing

If y'all have been with me a while, you know I'm a do-it-yourself kinda girl. I always try to encourage my fellow stitchers to learn to finish and frame their own work, mainly because the stories of beautiful needlework--unfinished or unframed--languishing in a drawer, never seeing the light of day, never being enjoyed, just makes me sad. To me, it's like painting a beautiful picture and then sticking it in the closet. 

There are lots of reasons stitchers have for not framing their work. Sometimes pieces are too large to do at home, or they're an odd shape that can't be accommodated by a standard store-bought frame. Sometimes they're just really, really special pieces and you want to splurge and have them professionally framed. My wedding sampler is like that. But the two most common reasons I see for not framing things are 1) professional framing is expensive (it is!), and 2) framing it yourself is hard (it's not!) and you have to have special tools (you don't!). I've got some framing to do over the next few days, and I'll be posting about my projects, so stick around and see how easy it is.

Here's what I did today. This is Mitten Games, by Crossed Wing Collection, stitched on their fabric Snow Squall. The frame was picked up on clearance, just like all the other frames I'll be showing.

Here's what you need, which you can get at any craft store with a framing department:
*foam core
*craft knife
*lotsa pins
*glazier points
*flat head screwdriver

Disassemble your frame and use the glass as a template to cut out the foam core.

Cut out the foam core, cutting just inside the marked line, about 1/8". This is an allowance for the fabric and pins that will be along the edges of the foam core, so that it will fit nicely into the frame. It's only necessary to do this on two perpendicular sides.

Using the glass as a template, cut out the batting and stick it to the foam core with some double-sided tape. This gives your framed piece a little body, so that it doesn't look completely flat in the frame. If you like the flat look, just leave it off. Just a thought, though. If you have any knots or oopsies on the back of your piece, the cushion of the batting will help keep the bumps from showing on the front.

Here you can see how the foam core fits into the frame, leaving just enough space around the edges to accommodate the fabric and pins. And those are glazier points, in case you're not familiar with them. More on them in a bit.

Position your piece on the padded foam core and give it a test run in the frame, making adjustments as necessary. Ordinarily I would center the design, but for this one I wanted as much of the snowy fabric to show as possible, so the design is lower in the frame. For my tip on using a light box to position needlework, click here.

Pin the piece to the foam core (leaving the pins sticking out a bit), making sure it's straight and centered. This is the most fiddly part of finishing and framing, but the more you do it, the better you'll get at it. You will have to unpin, reposition, repin, etc. It's not a fast process, so just be patient, breathe, and take the time to get it right. I can't speak about Aida because I don't stitch on it, but linen is very forgiving during the pinning process. You have a built-in grid in the horizontal and vertical threads, and you can easily see when an area is "off". It also lends itself to very slight adjustments. A tiny pull on one side can straighten an entire section of fabric. 

When you think you have it like you want it, see how it looks in the frame. If it's good to go, push in the pins. 

If there's any excess fabric, trim it off and put on the back of the frame. Unless you have a pretty deep frame, the back will not fit into the inside groove of the frame all the way around. That's where glazier points come in. Wherever you need them, hammer them in. If you don't know how to use glazier points, here's a quick lesson on Youtube.

And that's it!

More on the way!


  1. Thank you so much for the tutorial. I knew much of this, but it is so nice to see it all in one place and presented in such a simple manner. I have always shied away from framing my own pieces. I have recently started finishing as ornaments and flat-folds. Now I will try framing. I absolutely adore that snowman stitching. Adorable.

  2. Thank you for your clear instructions! I can see myself trying this for a smaller finish. I have many stitched items that could benefit from a frame!
    Gorgeous stitching too by the way - that fabric is perfect!

  3. Super instructions! I have never framed using batting before. Interesting.

  4. Well done, Honeybee! Love your stitched piece along with the linen you stitched it on. Your frame selection is perfect. Thank you for providing the step by step instructions. Have a wonderful weekend!

  5. I like to make an "X" on the foamcore from corner to corner and then put down my quilt batting. I also like to use lowloft quilt batting, it gives a less pronounced padding. Maria S.

  6. LOVE this chart & the fabric!! Also, love this method of finishing. Very pretty! :-)