Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tutorial on framing your needlework.

Oh my poor neglected blog this month! Can you tell the weather is getting nicer? I can because I'm away from the computer more and more and my blog gets more and more lonely. lol

Anyhoo, I told Margaret (it was you, right?) that I would post some helpful hints on framing so I snapped some pics and here we go. Keep in mind - this is just how *I* do it. It's not the be all, end all of framing. When I worked at Michals as a manager in another lifetime (aka 15 years ago), I was taught to do a few things in the frame shop so I could help out when they were slammed. I always gravitated to the needlework because, well, DUH! And they were always grateful for that because most of them hated doing needlework pieces. (It's very time consuming, as far as framing goes.) So that is where I learned to do it this way. Someone who specializes in just needlework may do it differently. 

Having said all that, I've done enough pieces myself to have purchased some tools to make things go easier/quicker. You don't need these tools to frame a piece yourself but if you are going to do more than a few pieces a year it is well worth the investment to pick them up. 

You need: foam core board, stainless steel pins (like for sewing), framing points and (usually) a sawtooth hanger  for the back of the frame. (You should be able to get all of these things from Michaels.)

Other stuff that is helpful: a mat board cutter, bumper pads (for the back of the frame), and a framers point gun aka a point driver. (That last one is like a staple gun but it shoots out framing points instead of staples. And, BONUS, it doubles as a weapon against thieves if you shoot them in the neck with it.)

Cut the foam core board using a mat board cutter (or whatever you have that will do it neatly) to slightly smaller than the inside of your frame. (Measuring from the back, of course, because you don't want the mat board to fall through the front of the frame.) Enough to accommodate the fabric/pins you are going to be adding to the board. Mark the middle of each side of your board with a pencil. You need to do the same next for your needlework only with pins (this is temporary). Now you have a guide to perfectly center your piece over the board.

(I used sequin pins on this piece because I have a box of them leftover from another project. Quilting/sewing pins are more the norm but any non-rusting pin will do.)

Now it's a matter of pulling the piece taut (but not TOO taut) over the foam core board and placing pins down the sides to hold it fast. The first few pins take the most time because you have to adjust them to make sure everything is centered properly. Start at the top/bottom or the left/right sides (but not both at once), using those center points as a guide (you should be matching them up), with just a couple pins to start. Measure and make sure you have the same amount of distance from the edge of your needlework to the edge of the board on either side. This will take a few tries to get just right. It has to be done right or your piece will be crooked in the frame. Measure, pin, measure, adjust the pin, measure, etc. until you have the same amount showing from the edges.  Clear as mud?
Once those two sides are done, do the same to the last two sides. 

Now you should have a couple pins on each side, right in the middle of the side, with a nice amount of tension on your linen and your piece nice and centered. 

You continue on in this fashion until you reach the corners. Do 4-5 pins on one side, then go and do 4-5 on the opposite side. Go back and forth in an equal fashion. Follow the same line on your linen to keep it straight. 

Adjust if you need to as you go along if you find it's not tight enough or too loose. If it's not tight enough it will relax and get ripples in it as it changes with the humidity/weather over time. Too tight puts too much stress on it. Also, linen is a living, breathing thing so even though  you are following the same line with your pins (same as stitching with it) it doesn't always PULL completely straight. Maybe it was stretched tighter across a hoop when you were stitching it so it has more looseness in one area to the next. Linen has a memory and you might have to adjust for that as you are stretching it over the foam core board and pinning it. This particular piece was going crooked in the left corner even though I was following the same line and I had to go back and pull it up a little in that area to fix it. (It's still a tiny bit off but I got tired of messing with it.)

What you do with the extra fabric when you are done is up to you. Cut it off (makes me cringe, personally), tape it down, sew it down, leave it be if doesn't get in the way. Whatever you want. Now you want to use the framing points to snug it down in the frame good so it doesn't move about. (If you don't have a point gun, you will need the ones you push in with a screwdriver. They work just the same but are much fiddlier to get in there snug. Do yourself a favor and get a gun if you are going to be doing this regularly! It will save you more than just time.)

Finish the back off by using double stick tape or a glue stick on the edge of the frame, covering with craft paper, trimming off the excess with a razor so it doesn't overlap, and attaching your hanging device. (Don't have craft paper on hand? Paper bag it, BABY!) The self-stick rubber bumpers pads are a nice touch for the corners so it doesn't scrape your wall too. I use them on my bigger pieces that have more weight to them. (Should be able to get those at Michaels too.)

VOILA! A professionally framed piece that you did yourself. :)


Laurie said...

Great post! I have a whole drawer full of finished, unframed projects. Now I know what to do with them!

Margaret said...

Cool! Thank you, Melanie! Yes, it was me. :D I have to bookmark this. And start with a very tiny piece. lol!

Jackie said...

Very nice tutorial! I'm bookmarking as well.

dixiesamplardesigns said...

Very good tutorial, Melanie...you made it very easy to follow.

I do the same method; but after pinning the sides, I lace the back like a shoelace to keep it taut. Once this is complete, I remove the pins from the sides because they will rust over time...I live in a very humid state, LOL! But, your method is so much easier and less time consuming...thank you!!

Happy Stitchin'

gracie said...

Well thank you very much! I think I want to try this.

Sylvia said...

Great reminder that I should get going and do a few of mine. I have only framed one piece myself.... and yes, its a wee bit crooked. The next one will be better.

Thanks for giving such clear instructions. It should make attempt #2 a bit easier.

Annie said...

Great no nonsense tutorial. I love the pinning method. Wish I had discovered it years ago.

Carol said...

That is so helpful, Melanie--I just got a pile of frames delivered that I ordered online, so I'll definitely be referring to your tutorial. Thanks so much for all the time you put into creating it :)

Pumpkin said...

Thanks for the tutorial Melanie! I've always laced my work and never used the pin method. I might have to try this :o)

Jen said...

this is great, I'm a newbie and will be bookmarking this as well...thank you!

♥marylin♥ said...

thank you,
marylin in france

Julie said...

Super tutorial, thanks