How to Frame a Miniature Needlework Sampler Picture

After finishing my first petit point sampler, I realized I had no information on framing miniatures. I knew I wanted it to look really nice after putting so much work into the project, and I don’t have a lot of tools, so I knew it needed to be simple. I love my solution, and I hope it helps others in the same situation. 🙂 An added bonus is that this project doesn’t require measuring, so it can be easily adapted to whatever size you need.

What I can’t believe is that I was so eager to start once I figured out what I was going to do that I totally forgot to take a photo of the finished needlework when it was finished and unframed! Here it is in progress. The silk gauze was stitched into a piece of waste fabric so it could be held securely in a hoop during stitching. Once the piece was finished, I removed the basting stitches and tucked the calico away for another project.

The needlework needs to be wrapped around something that is very thin, yet stable. It also needs to be something that isn’t going to warp and buckle with changes in humidity. I recycled an old credit card for this purpose, and it was perfect! First I cut the end off to get rid of the rounded corners, then I cut a small rectangle the same size as the picture. It was a bit tedious, as it requires numerous strokes with an X-acto knife against a straight edge, but it’s such a perfect option that I didn’t mind a whole lot. I used a nail file (my favorite mini sanding tool) to smooth edges and to perfect the size.  (Lay the file flat on your worktable and sand against it when possible.) The finished card needs to be just enough smaller than your picture that one row of stitches wraps around the side, preventing the canvas from showing at the edges. Now, place this card behind the needlework and fold the two long sides around to the back. Using a double strand of strong sewing thread, lace the two sides together across the back of the card, taking the stitches relatively close to the edge of the card, using fairly small stitches and pulling as firmly as is reasonable. You want your stitchery to be stretched smoothly and evenly. Take your time and do a good job of this. It will be worth it – and it doesn’t take as long as it did to work the picture in the first place. 😉 When you’ve done the long sides, fold the corners very carefully and lace the short sides the same way.

For the frame, you will need one 1/8″ x 1/8″ basswood strip and a 1/32″ sheet. Cut as follows:

  1. First, cut two strips of wood as long as the long side of your stretched needlework piece. I chose to cut mine slightly longer and sand it down to the exact size. For clarity, I’m going to call these “A pieces.”
  2. Next with the two strips laying flush against your needlework, decide a length for the short side pieces. These two pieces should extend beyond the combined width of the frame and needlework. How far is a matter of personal taste and will also vary by the size of your picture. Mine are roughly 1/4″ longer on each side – so 1/2″ longer than the width. For clarity, I’m calling these “B pieces.”
  3. Cut 4 short pieces the same length as the extensions. You might find it easier to do this after you’ve assemble the rest of the frame. Instead of using a ruler, you can just line up the strip with the extension and mark the length if you like. Lay these safely aside for a while.
  4. Lay the needlework and four main frame pieces in position on the corner of the sheet wood and trace the other two sides. Cut this piece out. It’s okay if it’s a dab big. A nail file will take it down to size easily once the frame is assembled. This is the back piece. NOTE: On antique frames, I always see the grain of the wood running vertically, so that’s what I opted to do for this project.

Assemble as follows:

  1. Glue one of the B pieces centered along the edge of the back of the frame. Be careful to have equal extensions on each end, to line the edge up cleanly, and to not have glue ooze out of the seam. Clothespins make great clamps! Let this dry.
  2. Glue one of the A pieces into place, aligning carefully. Be sure to put a bit of glue on the end of this strip where it will contact the one that is already in place. This will add a lot of structural integrity to your frame. Let this dry before the next step.
  3. Place your needlework into position as tightly as possible into the corner you have created. Leave it there while you position and glue the next A piece. This will help you achieve a tight fit. Remove the needlework as soon as you have the frame clamped again so you don’t accidentally glue it into the frame! Let this dry.
  4. Glue the final B piece onto the frame. Remember to put a dot of glue on the end of the two A pieces and to center the B piece carefully.
  5. When the glue is dry on this part, do any necessary touch up sanding to make your edges all flush.
  6. Glue the tiny extension pieces into place. They should be lined up so that they appear to be end of the A pieces and flush with the front of the frame. Let this dry completely before continuing, as this joint is rather small and delicate!

Now the hardest part is finished, and it wasn’t really that painful! 🙂 When everything is good and dry, stain or paint your frame and if you like, rub the crossbars with a bit of Briwax for a soft glow like I did, or use your favorite finishing technique. Let this dry thoroughly.

Put a drop of glue on the back of your needlework and pop it into the frame. Although credit cards don’t glue easily, the thread lacing across your stitchery should adhere just fine, and it will hold the piece in the frame. If you are careful with your glue application, you should be able to retrieve your stitchery without too much trouble in the future if you ever wish to reframe it.

Be sure to put a label on the back of your piece. You’ve worked hard to create this piece of art, and heirlooms always mean much more when they have been properly identified!

Last two steps… hang it in your dollhouse, and let me know how your project turns out! 🙂

Published on August 30, 2010 at 12:56 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. That’s a really clear tutorial, and your stitching is wonderful!

  2. Great tutorial; easy to follow. Thanks for sharing.


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