Framing Needlework Tutorial

When framing needlework, there are a number of different items that need to be considered. In this article, we are not framing for conservation, but rather framing to get our piece on the wall.

Let’s go through the process.

1. Pressing: If needed to remove wrinkles, place needlework face down onto a terrycloth towel, then lay a damp pressing cloth on top. [Do not use the steamer function on the iron!] Test the heat of the iron; when in doubt a cooler temperature is better. Be sure to move the iron in the direction of the weave, NOT in a circular or diagonal direction. Then, lay it flat and let it dry.

2. Blocking: The process of blocking will help straighten an out-of-square piece. First, dampen the material with distilled water by lightly spraying it from the back. Place the needlepoint face-down on a blocking board and attach one long edge of the material to the board using rust-proof nails. Continue this process, pulling and adjusting with each side of the material, until completely square.

To create your own blocking board, use a piece of plywood and a T-square. Mark off your own grid onto its surface.

3. Mounting: Depending on the type of needlework that is being framed, different mounting methods may be necessary. For this particular piece of needlework, we are going to mount it using a lacing technique.

Once the fabric is dried and squared from the blocking, center the material and square it to the sides of the backing board.  Carefully turn it over and fold fabric around backing board using pins to temporarily hold it in place.

insert pins into fabric and mounting board

Choose thread that is similar in strength to the needlework material to begin lacing. “Beginning near a corner of the substrate (side A), lace across to the side B, inserting the needle from the top of the fabric toward the substrate. Then, before lacing back to side A, make another stitch approximately ½” to ¾” away on the same side, coming back up through the fabric, then go back across. Repeat this pattern for the entire length of the textile.” (via PPFA Guidelines for Framing Textiles and Needlework).

begin lacing technique

one side of lacing completed

4. Before tying off the end, carefully pull the laces tight, starting at the top and working your way down, like you would with a pair of shoes.

5. Fold over opposite sides and follow steps 3 and 4 to complete the lacing technique.

fold over opposite corners
6. Now we can begin the framing process. We recommend using  Plexiglass for picture frames in your framing treatment to prevent dust, dirt and fingerprints from getting to the fabric. However, as with any glazing, the work also needs to be matted so that the artwork is not touching the glazing.

7. Take a piece of mounting board and carefully center and trace the shape of your needlework onto the mounting board. Use a utility knife to carefully cut out the center shape. Place the needlework inside of the opening.

cut an opening in the mounting boardplace needlework in opening

8. Next, attach mats to the mounting board, making sure there is enough overlap so that the needlework doesn’t fall through the window opening. Place this “art stack” on top of another piece of mounting board, which will serve as the backing board for the frame treatment.

attach mats to needlework

9. Remove the protective paper from the back of the acrylic, clean with acrylic cleaner, and place on top of the artwork. Then peel the paper from the remaining side, being careful not to lift the acrylic from the “art stack”, which may cause dust to get trapped between the artwork and the acrylic.

10. Place the “art stack” into the frame and secure the back with either the provided spring clips or a point driver.

completed framed needlework

Have you ever framed a piece of needlework before? We’d love to see the results! Share with us on the blog, Facebook or Twitter.

*Note: What we’ve given you are the basics for getting the needlework on the wall. We did not take into consideration conservation efforts. There is a bit more involved in conservation framing. If you are interested in conservation framing and have specific questions, reach out to Ask Mike at or call 800.774.7793.

** Items of historical value should be referred to a conservator.

AubreyK | 1/28/2015 9:11:37 AM | 10 comments
American Frame

You can do it! It's as easy as it looks.
4/6/2015 11:21:31 AM

You make it look so simple.. Thanks for the tutorial
4/6/2015 9:48:02 AM

American Frame
You're welcome Judy, good luck!
3/6/2015 2:10:36 PM

Will do. Thx for all of ur help!!!!!
3/6/2015 1:16:30 PM

American Frame

Thanks for the response! We hope that the three pieces of mounting board work out for you. It will probably work just fine. We'd love to see your finished piece, feel free to share some photos on social media if you'd like!
3/6/2015 8:05:45 AM

Thx for the quick response. I did get a 3rd piece of mounting board. Unfortunately, I didn't order from you and bought a board from a local store, however, it's a thin board. I'm thinking this will still work to keep the piece in place….I hope!!! I just want to frame this piece already! Thx so much!
3/5/2015 9:04:30 PM

American Frame
Hi Judy,

That's correct, we recommend 3 mounting boards. However, it's not necessary to recess the needle point into a piece of mounting board if you don't want to, it just helps keep it secure and from shifting under the mat board. If you'd rather just place the mats on top of the needlework and then use an additional backing board for the back of the frame, that will work too! Hope this helps and let us know if you have any additional questions.
3/5/2015 10:31:18 AM

Just making sure I have this right….you need 3 pieces of mounting board?! 1 to mount the piece, 2 to place the piece into the center of and attach matts, and 3 to add to the back of the stacked artwork?! Is this correct? Right now I have steps 1 and 3….do I need to do step 2 or can I do without that 2nd piece of mounting board?
3/5/2015 10:10:56 AM

American Frame

about 45 minutes to an hour
2/10/2015 9:49:42 AM

How long did it take for you to do this project start to finish?
1/30/2015 1:48:12 PM

About this blog

Mike Cromly
So, who’s Mike? He is the man behind the mission of getting your picture frames produced and out the door quickly, correctly, with custom frame shop quality. Once your order is placed, it is in the hands of Mike and the many people he has trained over his 35+ years with the company. A natural teacher, he loves to tinker and experiment. Of course he has a nice office, but we rarely find him there. Working in the plant and improving our processes is his passion. Outside of American Frame, Mike is an outdoorsman, avid fisherman, devoted family man and Ohio State Buckeye fan. Mike's Twitter
For more tutorials and articles, take a look at our other blogs - A Good Frame of Mind or At Your Service

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