Posted in How To, Tips and Tricks

What do you need to know about framing your cross stitch?

Hi Everyone

How many variations are there for you to use to frame your cross stitch? Using the phrase “how to frame cross stitch” – including the quotation marks – 21,000 results came up in my Google results. Many of the results in this search talk about the possibilities of using glass, not using glass, stretching your project over canvas, using sticky board to assist with the framing, using matting board and not using matting board.

Considering how many posts and YouTube clips there are on how to frame cross stitch, the aim of this post is to share with you, some of the most popular ways to frame your cross stitch on a shoestring budget.

The most common threads from the most popular results will tell you about:

Washing your finished project

This can be a personal choice and be dependant upon your choice of fabric and threads. There are some threads may run if they are washed or weren’t pre-washed before you stitched with them. I’ve been really lucky with all of the projects I’ve washed before framing. I’ve only used Anchor or DMC threads, mostly because they’re the most accessible brands to me and up until the last 12 months or so, I hadn’t known about or heard of any other type of threads to stitch with! Tapestry wool being the exception!

I have accidentally spilt coffee and chocolate crumbs on my projects and I’ve been very lucky to have them easily wash out. Or I’ve been able to stitch over the spots without any worries – if a mark has been left after the washing.

One of the important things I want to note is that for the majority of my projects, I’ve hand washed them in the basin of my bathroom with a little bit of hand soap – liquid or bar – in warm to cool water. I’ve tried not to rub my stitches too much, but enough to remove any crumbs or marks if there had been any. I’ve also rinsed my project with warm to cool water to remove any soap residue. I’ve then lightly squeezed my project to remove the excess water and laid it flat on a towel to dry over night.

From an audio-visual perspective, below are a couple of clips that may help you with washing your projects, if you’re feeling a bit uncertain about what to do…

‘My gridding pen washed out super easy…’ by Stitching Jules – uploaded to YouTube on 8 December 2017
‘Washing your cross stitch and embroidery’ by Peacock and Fig – uploaded to YouTube on 17 September 2016

Once dry, I’ve ironed the front and back side of my project, taking care with areas that have beads and backstitch. You may find that some people are quite particular about which side of their project should be ironed – if at all. I’ve been lucky and not had any problems. It’s also been the main times I’ve brought out the iron and ironing board!


How large your finished project is will have a major influence on the frame size you choose. The measurements will also impact your choice in mat board and what board you have to back your project. It’s also important to note that the amount of excess fabric you have around your project will have an impact on how you frame it. For example, do you really need a metre of fabric around your project? This example is excessive, but you get my point! On average, having an inch or two – 4 maximum (5 to 10 centimetres) around your project is the perfect amount because it gives you enough room to effectively stretch your fabric and have it centred in the frame.

Choosing acid-free materials

The acid-free materials will range from the foam and mat boards to the sticky board or threads you use to lace your project. This is important because they will ensure the longevity of your project and hopefully it will become a family heirloom!


When I first started cross stitching and the term ‘lacing’ was mentioned, I thought it was something to do with lace in fashion and homewares. But it’s actually to do with the process of stretching your project over some foam board or cardboard, so that it’s nicely centred in your frame. Below is a clip to help further explain how lacing works and how you can do it too!

‘Lacing the lazy way’ by Lindy Stitches – uploaded to YouTube on 8 August 2019

Mat board

This can be a personal choice as well. Many frames you can purchase from the shops come with its own mat board. When you have pulled apart the frame, place the matting board over the top of your project to see if the matting board enhances or detracts from your project. It’s also important to note that the purpose of mat board is to stop your project from touching the glass – if you choose to frame your project with glass. According to the Frame Shop, mat board can protect your project from moisture because of the small gap it creates between the project and the glass.

If you find the perfect frame, but you need to adjust the mat board it comes from, Peacock and Fig has put together a great clip on how to customise the mat board to suit your needs.

‘How to cut a mat’ by Peacock and Fig – uploaded to YouTube on 28 May 2015


Whenever I’ve decided to frame a project, I’ve taken my project with me to the shops I want to get my frame from. This enables me to see what’s on the shelf and see if the project works with the frame. Felt Magnet recommends this in their post about framing your project as well. The aim is to find a frame that compliments your project. Tip: choose a colour in your project that you have used a little bit of. Find a frame in that colour or find some paint that you can use to paint the frame you’ve chosen. Alternatively, you may choose to wrap the frame in fabric or paper or any other medium that suits your project. Additionally, your frame can be made out of whatever materials you think suit and compliment your project. I’ve seen on the internet, how creative people have gotten with their frames. Some people have chosen to utilise materials from around their home or local stores that enhance their projects. Below are some images of what people have done:

Image from Google search. See for a closer look at this frame and more ideas.
Image from Google search. See for a closer look at the image and more framing ideas.
Image from Google search. See for a closer look at the image and more framing ideas.
Image from Google search. See for a closer look at this idea and more framing ideas.


When I’ve framed my own projects, I’ve taken a stab in the dark. I’ve not looked up anything on the internet. I’ve usually had an idea of how I’ve wanted the project to look in the frame and had a go at making it right. I’ve made the mistake of racing out to purchase a frame without my project with me and purchased a frame that’s been too big or too small. I still have some of those frames hanging around my home, in the hope that one day I’ll have a project that will suit it.

I’ve kept the glass in all of my projects and I’ve taken the risk with some of the projects by not using matboard and having the project right up against the glass. This is a huge risk with ‘The World’ project (see image below) because I’ve got it hanging up in my ensuite.

I’ve rarely used the lacing method of securing my projects in the frame. More often than not, I’ve used acid-free double sided tape to secure the project to the paper or board that has come with the frame. I have had to be careful to not have the standard picture that’s come with the frame showing through my project. I made that mistake with my ‘The World’ project (see below), but I think it’s worked out for the better. What do you think?

‘World Map: The Elements’ designed by Maria Diaz – notice the darker background. This was unintentional. The darker colours you see in the background are because of the side I used for backing the cross stitch project.

I also recommend you check out YouTube for tutorials on how to frame your cross stitch projects. They will give you the confidence and guidance on how to do what you want with your project. They may also enhance what this post has touched on.

Until next time, happy stitching!

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Posted in How To, Tips and Tricks

How Do You Teach Someone to Cross Stitch? Part 5 – The Final Touches

Hi Everyone

This is the last post of the series and looking at the date (in Australia, it’s Sunday 29th December, 2019), the last post for this year!

We’ve come a fair way in this series. We’ve considered who our student is and what their learning styles and abilities are, and some of the tools of the trade that may help them with starting out in cross stitch and hopefully enjoying it! We’ve had a quick look at some of the different patterns that are out there, with the strong recommendation of starting your learner out on a kit before embarking on chart and kitting things up themselves. Let alone embarking on a project that has a fabric count size 20 or over!

With these things in mind, we now need to have a chat with our learner about how they want to finish their project and the potential for back-stitch, beads, French Knots and what should be done with it when we’re done.

Back-stitch – is it overrated or a necessary evil?

Over the years I have definitely complained about doing back-stitch on many of my projects. Sometimes it’s because there’s so much of it and it’s felt like I’ve been working on the project for a really long time. Other times it’s because I’m just really keen to get moving onto a different project and I’m procrastinating the inevitable. That said, I know that really, back-stitch isn’t really all that hard. Tedious at times yes, but not hard. It also makes the world of different to a project and makes things stand out in a way that other stitching wouldn’t be able to do – that I’m aware of. If anyone does know of another stitch similar to back-stitch that can be used in cross stitch, I challenge you to show me!

Reading the pattern however, for doing back-stitch on a project – that may be another reason why I grumble about it. Because the pattern will remind me where I’ve fudged things on the project and when I go to try and follow where the back-stitch needs to be, I get annoyed at myself all over again. To help you understand why this is, the two clips below by Peacock and Fig, explain how back-stitch works in cross stitch projects:

“Backstitch tutorial for embroidery and cross stitch” by Peacock and Fig – uploaded to YouTube on 14 November 2015
“Intermediate backstitch techniques: handling long runs of backstitch” by Peacock and Fig – uploaded to YouTube on 31 October 2017

For some of the projects I’ve worked on that have had long runs or long lines of back-stitch, I’ve carried my thread from point A to point B without any stops in-between. This could cover a number of centimetres and I’ve then gone back and put some small anchors along the line to secure the thread. I’ve found this to have a bit more of a cleaner view rather than stitching the individual stitches and it saves a bit of time. You may need to help your student with starting and finishing the back-stitch to ensure the stitches stay put.

French Knots or Beads

This is something you and your student will need to have a chat about, regarding whether or not your student wants to give them a go. Personally, it’s taken me a very long time to get the hang of doing French Knots and I have used beads instead of the knots. An example of how this can look is shown below:

“Angel Bear with Candle” – design by Joan Elliott (C)2006 – stitched by Kristen Gawronski (The XStitching Runner)

The additional tip I can provide you and your learner with if either of you choose to use beads, is the smaller the bead, the fiddlier they are going to be to use in the project and you’re going to need to use a thinner needle than what was used to stitch the project. The image below shows the needle I use for beading. Unfortunately I’ve lost the packaging that the needles came in, so I’m unable to let you know the details of the brand and needle size. What I do like about these needles is that they are a little longer and thinner than the regular embroidery needle and I’m able to get a little Mill Hill Seed Bead on the end of the needle. Which helps a lot when I’m trying to pick a bead out from the packaging and adding it to the project, like the ‘Angel Bear with Candle’. I like to grow my fingernails a bit and I find it difficult to pick out just one of the little beads out of the packaging because of my nails!

Needles I use for beading. Brand and needle size unknown.

Additionally, I use one strand of cotton that’s the same colour (or as close as possible) as the bead I’m attaching to the project. My logic for doing this is to make it as seamless as possible and the centre of the bead is sometimes so small that it can only handle one or two strands at the most.

Washing your final project

Have you ever taken a project out of a stand, hoop or frame and found that your hands weren’t as clean as you thought they were – even though you thought you were diligent about washing them before working on the project? Don’t worry. Accidents happen. Even with the best of intentions!

Washing a project after it’s been finished is a personal preference for many people. If I’ve been working on light coloured fabric, I prefer to wash my projects to be absolutely sure I’ve not left any grubby marks on it. My logic behind this is I want the project to last for as long as possible. By removing any contaminates from the fabric, it puts my mind at ease knowing that I’ve done what I could to remove anything that could increase the deterioration of the fabric or threads.

It’s important to note that whenever I’ve washed my projects, I’ve hand washed them in the basin with some warm water and hand soap. Nothing fancy. I’ve rinsed the project in cool to warm water and gently wrung the project out and laid it out flat on an old, clean tea towel. I’ve usually left it overnight and then used an iron to smooth it all out. I’ll usually iron the back side of the project to ensure the iron doesn’t catch on any of the back-stitch or cause any problems with the French Knots or beads.

However, this is a personal preference and you will need to have a chat with your student about what they want to do about washing their finished project. Aside from potential marks from dirty hands or accidental spillages, another deciding factor will be what your student wants to do with the finished project. Do they want to frame it? Make a card? Turn it into a pin cushion? No decisions have to be made straight away. There are a lot of options out there regarding the way a cross stitch project can be fully finished. In the related posts section at the end of this post, is a link to an earlier post I wrote on what finishing options there are, if you or your student choose not to frame.

End of a series, but not goodbye…

It’s been fun and interesting writing this series. I hadn’t anticipated parts of it being so difficult to write – mostly the parts about doing the actual stitching! I’ve likened it to teaching someone to drive. Whilst the two activities are very different, it’s the fact that both activities are so hands on, that at times it can be easier to just jump straight in and make adjustments as you go!

Thank you for bearing with me throughout this series. I hope that you have picked up on some different things that help you and your student. I’ve certainly learnt a bit about different learning styles and going through my stash has reminded me how much I have and how much I want to stitch!

So until next time, happy stitching!

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