Framing for Preserving Needlework

Custom Frames Useful Information

Do you love doing needlepoint and other needlework? You’re in good company! Mary, Queen of Scots; Marie Antoinette; and Queen Elizabeth I were all avid stitchers. Even actor and National Football League (NFL) great Roosevelt “Rosey” Grier is known for his beautiful work in needlepoint!

Whether it’s your own needlework or a family treasure handed down, all needlework items frame up beautifully. Some examples are antique samplers, cross-stitch pictures, wall hangings, pillow tops and upholstery, holiday ornaments, rugs, and chair seats. Proper framing will help preserve these beautiful items for generations to enjoy.

As custom picture framers, we can help you make the best framing choices and ensure your work is preserved and presented beautifully.

Here are some tips:

  • Needlepoint refers to stitching techniques worked on stiff openwork canvas. It differs from tapestry, which is woven on a vertical loom. When worked on fine-weave canvas, needlepoint is also known as petit point. Needlepoint lace, an older term for needle lace, is a historic lace-making technique. A generalized term for hand-crafted textile arts is needlework.
  • Working your needlepoint canvas on a frame and using a stitch such as basket weave will help keep your stitching square. Even so, it will likely need to be blocked before being framed. We can provide this service as part of the framing process.
  • The finished needlepoint should be tensioned over a sturdy preservation-quality board by lacing. Cross-stitch on lighter fabric may be laced with cotton thread or pinned with rustproof pins to a sturdy board. Needlework should never be permanently affixed with glue, tape, or other adhesive.
  • Glazing – glass or clear acrylic – is essential to protect your needlepoint from insects, dust, soiling, and curious hands. Glazing that filters out 97 percent or more of damaging UV light will help prevent irreversible fading and damage.
  • UV-filtering glazing is also available with a coating similar to that found on eyeglass and camera lenses. This antireflective coating makes the glazing virtually invisible and allows the best enjoyment of colors and texture.
  • To prevent problems with dampness, possibly leading to mold and mildew, the glazing should be separated from the needlework by at least 1/8 inch (3mm). This can be done with a double mat, a fabric liner like those traditionally used on paintings, or spacers that attach to the outside edge of the glass.
  • Because of the thickness of the needlework and other materials in the frame and the need for proper spacing away from the glass, a deeper frame may be needed to comfortably hold everything. We can recommend frames with the proper depth that will complement your needlework and your home or office décor.
  • To ensure none of the stitched design at the edge is covered by the mat or frame, consider stitching three or four rows of “sacrificial” stitches in the background color around the design; these stitches can be hidden under the matting or frame.
  • It is very rare that needlework needs to be trimmed before framing. If trimming is necessary, it should be done only with your express permission.
  • Vintage needlework, especially silk, is often damaged by the effects of light, insects, soiling, and outdated framing methods. Even the best framing methods and materials may lead to further damage without stabilizing treatments. We can recommend conservation treatment and refer you to professionals qualified to clean and repair your heirloom before framing, helping to ensure your treasures last for many years to come.

Bring your needlework treasures – and other items you’d like to frame – to us! We love to hear the stories behind your treasures and can provide a beautiful design that preserves and protects your items within your budget.

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Posted in Custom Frames, Useful Information.