Tips from a Professional Framer

Misty is one of our local stitchers, but she also happens to be a a professional framer at one of our craft stores here in Cache Valley. I thought it would be fun to get some tips from a professional framer.


What are the most common mistakes that you see when you frame needlework?

Knots are actually a really big deal. I know lot of people think we are being stitching police when we harp on knots. But when you tie a knot on the back of your piece when its all stretched out finished you will see a bump on the front of the piece. The more you have like if they are all over the back you will get this really ripply uneven texture.

K so what else?

Tails... when you don't trim it down you can see it when its finished. We will mount it on a light color board. Actually that’s a good tip if you do have tails you can ask for it to be mounted on a dark board, but still it's better to trim them up. When you travel you will see the lines zig-zaging around, that’s when you would want to request a darker mounting board.

What else?

Tension... if you stitch too tight it will either force your piece off of square. Which depending on how tight you go, I only have so much muscles in my arms to straighten that sucker back out again. I have seen a cases where a stitcher does the 10 x 10 squares and you can actually see the lines of each square. Try to keep an nice even tension when stitching.


We do a lot of pieces with beads so let's talk about framing with beads. You add a spacer right?

We do.  You're going to want, depending on the size of your bead, to have enough mats to compensate for the size of the beads. If you need a spacer, my favorite way is to do a raised mat, where we put a spacer in between the two mats. So, instead of just having it out to the side, you have a layer of dimension between the mats. It's a really cool shadow effect.


Let's talk about Heirloom Quality

When you go into a frame shop what you are going to want to ask for Archival Quality Glass. Same basic premise, just a different vernacular. It's just going from crafting to fine arts.

For an archival quality piece there are some things you should look for. They should never ever use adhesive. Any frame shop that says they are going to glue your piece down, that is a big red flag-- don't do it. It doesn’t look as good and it's not good for your piece. The main thing with archival quality is that everything throughout is 100% acid free.

At our frame shop, we use acid free foam core for stitchy pin. This is were we pin it in to the board instead of gluing, which looks tons better. It's also the best way to keep it straight because we are following a square-- we are pinning it in a square, so it will always always be square. Then the mat boards are archival as well, instead of being just acid free. It sounds just as good but on an acid free mat you have an acid free layer on the front and the back but the core is not acid free.

So you will see over time on a acid free mat the bevels will turn yellow and that is acid erosion. So you want an Archival Quality mat, not just a acid free mat. The cool thing about the archival quality mats is that they will actually filter acid as well. They are such high quality not acid that they act as a heap filter and will filter acid out of the fabric.

So let's talk about glass... I know you guys offer several different types of glass. So why do you like one over the other? Besides the obvious glare factor.

At any frame shop you can ask for museum glass. At our shop, it's called Masterpiece. But if you ask for museum glass, every framer will know what you are talking about. It's double coated double anti glare-- actually, it's the same anti glare process that they use on eye glasses. It enhances the clarity of the glass and a lot of time you can't even see that it is there. It also cuts down on seeing your reflection in a piece. I have a sample in my shop that half is normal and half is museum glass and I will put that down on a stitch piece and it's like, well, I have to pick the museum-- there is no contest. At our pricing scale its usually only a $20 – $30 difference between the two. And on a custom piece where you are going to be speeding over $100, $20 is nothing.

Framing on a budget, I had no idea that I could go in and buy a pre-made frame and have you frame it.

Oh, yeah, we will just charge you the labor fees. You don't have to the big custom frames. We can do custom cut matting too, so you can get all the good quality of custom matting without the price of the custom frame.

Hanging needlework in a bathroom... Glass or no Glass???

100% always glass! I know there is this controversy between stitchers of glass vs no glass, that needle work needs to breath. But in all my years as a framer, which is 9 years, I have never heard a good scientific reason for not doing glass. The only form of artwork I know of that does need to breath is an oil painting.

The problem with not glassing a cross stitch is that it is fabric and it's going to get dirty. So if you don't glass it, you have done all that work in to stitching it and we have pinned it and framed it. So if you ever need to clean it, you are going to have to undo it. That's a lot of work to undo. So I am in the always always glass category.

Now when you frame something does it seal it?

The glass will protect it, yes. But if we are talking about a bathroom situation? I actually have a cross stitch hanging in my bathroom. All you have to do is ask your framer to seal it. So the one in my bathroom I sealed the glass in with silicone. Then over the back instead of just paper, we have a plastic coating under the paper so it's all air tight and sealed. So no moisture can get it, which is important. So if you are doing a piece for your bathroom, make sure you tell your framer-- it will make a difference. If you are doing one for your kitchen, it's not as important to seal it, but I would definatley have glass.

It is really up to you whether you glass or no glass, but I say if it's in a kitchen or bathroom I would say glass.

I think I am of the family of always putting glass.

It's scary for me, you have put all that time and effort into it. As a stitcher myself and a framer, it scares me not to have my stitching protected.

You put all that work and all that time into a piece, you want it to be a heirloom piece for years to come.

Oh, another perk about the museum glass is it is UV protected. If you buy a ready made frame, that glass is not going to have that UV protection. I have seen pieces that are not even close to the original colors it was when it was stitched. A lot of that can be prevented by using the UV Protected Museum Glass.

I want to thank Misty for all her time and information she shared with us about professional framing. If you have any additional questions for her please comment below or send you email to

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