How to Frame Your Own Embroidered Masterpiece

comments (2) October 6th, 2008     

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JenniferStern Jennifer Stern, contributor
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Heres my tag sale picture frame with a face lift, featuring an original floral embroidery that you can stitch out, too—for a $10 donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure!
Heres my tag sale picture frame.
Put the frame together with the fabric you are going to embroider on to help choose the color threads you are going to use.
Heres my tag sale picture frame with a face lift, featuring an original floral embroidery that you can stitch out, too—for a $10 donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure!

Here's my tag sale picture frame with a face lift, featuring an original floral embroidery that you can stitch out, too—for a $10 donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure!

Photo: Jen Stern
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I scored a set of pictures that I snagged from a tag sale for $5. Hotel art, double matted and framed in faux cracked gold leaf—complete with glass.
(You can't buy all that stuff new for $5.) I love to recycle stuff...especially if it's better the second time! Framing embroidery is one of my favorite projects because it gives me the creative license to really show off my style. When you're working with fabric, there is a little more to it than slapping it behind a mat and a piece of glass. Let me show you how to do it. If you want to support the fight against breast cancer, you can receive the floral design that I used in the project for a $10.00 donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Visit my website,, and click on the Embroidery button on the home page to make a donation. I will email you the design when I receive your donation confirmation.

Here's what you'll need:

  • A picture frame (preferably with a mat and glass)
  • An embroidery design (that is sized and stitched out to fit in the mat)
  • Thin poly batting
  • Posterboard
  • Pins
  • Large-eye needle and strong thread
  • Glue stick

If you are going to embroider a design specifically for this project and you've already picked out your frame, measure the opening of the mat and select a design that is sized to fit. Alternatively, if you already have your embroidery stitched out, be sure that the frame and mat you choose is large enough to accommodate your design. Because I had these frames in mind for this project, I searched for a design that was approximately 4 inches square; that way, it would fit nicely in the 5-1/2-inch square opening in the mat.

If you are going to embroider now, here's how to prepare the fabric and hoop. Cut a piece of fabric and interfacing that is about 4 inches larger than the opening in the mat. Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric.

Fuse interfacing to the wrong side of your fabric
If you're working with a loosely woven fabric like Irish linen, be careful not to stretch the grain of the fabric when you are fusing the interfacing on.

Framing embroidery is a little different than using embroidery as an embellishment on a project. The fabric you are stitching on has only one purpose—to be the background of your "picture." So give it some extra consideration. I like to use good-quality fabric all the time but especially if I'm going to be putting it in a frame. I also pay extra attention to how I position the fabric in the hoop. If the embroidery is crooked on the grain of the fabric, it wll look sloppy when it's framed, particularly if you have to straighten it out by tilting the fabric in the frame. Hoop a lightweight cut-away stabilizer like Poly Mesh from OESD into your hoop. Use temporary adhesive spray to adhere the fabric, centered, in the hoop.

Hoop fabric straight on grain
Double-check that the grain of the fabric in the hoop looks straight.

Place the embroidered design face down, and position the mat so that the design is centered in the opening. Trace around the opening to mark the placement of the posterboard backing.

Use the openin in the mat to trace the position of the poster board on the back
Make sure you are marking the stabilizer and not the right side of your fabric.

Draw a square or rectangle onto the posterboard that is 1/2 inch larger than the opening in the mat.

Make a square or rectangle 1/2
Make your marking dark enough that you can see it through the thin poly batting.

Use a glue stick to adhere the thin layer of poly batting on top of the posterboard. Cut out the square.

Cut out poster board and poly batting to size  

Gluing the poly batting to the posterboard keeps them together so you can cut them out in one step.

Trim the stabilizer along the placement guide that you drew earlier.

Trim stabilizer to the size of the poster board
Following the placement guide, trim the stabillizer.

Secure the edges of the fabric along the edges of the posterboard by pinning through the back side. Next, fold the corners down at a 45-degree angle, and secure with glue. Then fold the top and bottom edges down.

Glue corners down at a 45 degree angle
You can use a glue stick to keep the corners in place.

Hold the top and bottom edges down with some pins.

Pin top/bottom edges over the poster board
I pin right through the posterboard, batting, and embroidery into the cutting board.

Thread a large-eye needle with strong thread. I used some topstitching thread. Working between the top to bottom edges, sew them together to hold them taut. Starting on one edge, stitch back and forth through the top and bottom, working across the edge. Keep your stitches about 1/4 inch long and the thread taut, without pulling the fabric too much.

Sew the top/bottom edges together to hold them in taut
Come up through the top edge, stitch over 1/4 inch, and go back to the bottom edge.


Sew all the way acoss the edge
Repeat this procedure to secure the side edges.

After you've secured both sides, whipstitch the mitered corners together.

whip stitch mitred corners
Once you've finished mounting the fabric onto the backing, steam the embroidery so it settles nicely against the poly batting.

Place the mat on top of the backing for the frame, then trace through the opening with a pen. Use the glue stick to adhere the embroidery over the guidelines. The mat will conceal the edges of the embroidered fabric because the posterboard was cut 1/2 inch larger than the opening.

Glue the mounted embroidery centered in place on the backing of the frame.
Reassemble the frame, and your new picture is ready to hang up!


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Comments (2)

JenniferStern writes: You can easily cut an opening for your embroidery using a super sharp craft knife. Draw faint lines with a pencil to create the shape you need. If you are making a square or rectangle, use a ruler to make nice straight lines. Firmly hold the ruler along the line and cut along the line with the craft knife. Before you remove the center piece carefully check to be sure the mat is completely cut out...especially in the corners!
Posted: 3:04 pm on November 13th
Rooty_Tooty writes: This is wonderful! Professional framing is sooo expensive! Now, would someone please be so kind as to provide some simple directions for cutting mat board?
Posted: 11:22 pm on November 12th
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