Framing your own cross stitch and embroidery projects not only saves you a lot of money, but also means you’re totally in control of the creative process and can add your personality to the finishing touches as well as the design itself.

Here are two designs that I framed.Image


For the bottom one, I popped into a framing shop out of curiosity. They estimated that it would be £60 to frame this AND that the method they used would involve ‘permanently bonding’ the cross-stitch to the backing board so that you could never remove it from the frame. The alternative method they could have used would have been nearer £100. My framing method took a bit longer but was about £50 less than the cheaper option. I carried the un-ironed cloth around with me for a couple of weeks and popped into charity shops looking for a frame of the correct size. Since the design is an unusual shape, this took a few tries but I eventually found this snazzy silver frame. There were also some on eBay but the delivery costs were high and I wouldn’t have got to feel good about myself for donating to charity.

You will need

  • Your finished embroidery project
  • A frame of the correct size. Ideally your aida should overlap the frame by about 2″ on all sides*
  • Needle and thread

*It’s your call whether to use glass in the frame. I do because it protects the cross stitch from dust and grease but some people leave the glass out because it can distort the appearance of the stitches.

The frame has several parts; the frame itself, the glass, the backing board and the back of the frame. If your frame is missing its backing board or the backing board is thin and cheap, you can cut a piece of cardboard to fit your frame and use that instead.

If you want a card border around your project like both of mine have, you’ll also need

  • Stiff card. If you’re not using glass, make it REALLY stiff.
  • Sharp cutting blade
  • Steel rule
  • Appropriate surface for using cutting blade (e.g. self-healing mat)

Note: For the first design I didn’t have a blade and mat to hand so I cheated and cut L-shapes from two pieces of card using scissors and then laid them over each other. Would you have known if I hadn’t told you?


1. Carefully wash and iron your project. This will instantly make your embroidery look at least 100% more professional. Here’s what the second project looked like before this stage.


I leave mine to soak in lukewarm water with delicate soap for about 15mins, then gently rub the aida clean with my hands. I use stain remover if there are any stubborn spots, then carefully rinse under running lukewarm water until I am totally certain there is no detergent left in the fabric. I iron while it’s still damp on a low setting. I iron mostly on the wrong side and sometimes use a pressing cloth to make sure there’s no chance of the iron staining my project. Make sure the fabric is utterly dry before framing.

2. Skip this step if you’re not using the card.

Carefully cut your chosen card so it fits exactly into the frame. I’ve only ever done this with glass to help keep it in place. Measure the size of your embroidery, plus any border you want to leave around it and decide how big a hole you need to cut out of your card. Sketch the shape you’re going to cut onto the card and make sure the lines are parallel. Of course, you can cut any shape you want, it doesn’t have to be a rectangle. Carefully cut out using the steel rule and blade. Check you’re happy with how it looks in the frame before proceeding.

3. Anchor your cross stitch to the frame’s backing board.

This will keep it in place and also stretch the fabric so the design looks its best. Check roughly where in the frame you want your design to sit. Fold the edges of the aida over the edges of the backing board, then get your needle and thread. Whip stitch the raw edges of the aida together over the back of the frame (see pic). Make sure your stitches are at least 4-5 squares away from the edge or the aida will unravel and pull the stitches out.


You can see here that I didn’t leave a big enough border! Ideally you would do the stitching horizontally as well as vertically.

You can improvise and skip this step if your design is a bit too small, it just gives a more even finish. If you can’t do the stitching, then stuff the backing board with the cross stitch on it into the frame and pull the edges of the fabric until it’s nicely stretched.

4. Check you’re happy with the placement of the design.

Put the covered backing board into the frame (don’t forget the card border first if you’re using it). It will be a tight fit. Look at the design from the front. Are the lines of the aida running parallel to the frame? If not, tug on the edges of the fabric at the back until it’s nice and tight and you’re happy with the way your design looks. This step took me a while because it was hard to get the text to look completely straight. The metallic thread pulls at the fabric differently to cotton, which doesn’t help.

5. Once you’re happy-ish, put the frame down and step away from it for a couple of hours. I was a bit dissatisfied with mine at first but when I returned to it later, I realised it was fine. The longer you stare at the project up close, the crazier you can go. Once you’re satisfied, put the back of the frame on and you’re done!