How to Frame your Embroidery Design

Looking for a different way to present your stitchy labour of love that isn’t just keeping it in the embroidery hoop? The popular movement at the moment is for crafters to just keep their work in the hoop, choosing to back the hoop with fabric or felt. But traditionally, the hoop wasn’t designed as a frame to keep your work in, just to hold your fabric even while you stitch.

Now I will put my hand up and say that I’m guilty of just keeping my work in the hoop rather than framing it or doing anything else with it haha. Honestly it is just the easy option for me, not to mention I love how the wooden hoop looks, but a lot of people think the hoops looks unfinished.  

There are a number of different embroidery frame shops out there that sell easy to use frames like Modern Hoopla but today I’m going to show you how to frame your work in a normal photo frame (like this one I got from Kmart). 


Let’s quickly run down everything that you will need to frame your embroidery. I like to keep my options open when it comes to framing and this method doesn’t require you to cut any fabric or permanently glue anything down. 

  • Obviously first up you need your design that you are choosing to frame… in this case, I am framing my ‘Monstera’ stumpwork design. You will have to make sure to leave plenty of spare fabric on your design if you chose to frame it (aka don’t trim it right down to the hoop).
  • A photo frame that is the right size for your design. This frame is from Kmart and perfectly fits the 15cm hoop that the design was stitched in. 
  • A cut piece of strong cardboard a larger size that the mat of your photo frame – I cut my cardboard 16x16cm. 
  • Needle and thread. I used a chenille needle size24  and some no. 8 perle cotton in ecru.
  • Optional – Bulldog clips to hold your fabric in place while you secure the back. 

1. take your design out of the hoop and centre on the cardboard backing

We are going to start by taking our design out of the embroidery hoop and carefully iron out any creases left by the hoop. This actually can be a really tricky step as those creases can be realllllly stuck in there. I have found that if you very lightly mist or steam the crease and then use a high heat, that you can get most of those lines out.

Carefully centre the design on the cardboard backing that we cut previously. I like to use some bulldog clips to hold it in place to make sure I’m happy with the placement before stitching it secure (two on each side is preferred). That piece of cardboard needs to be large enough for the edges to be hidden by the mat or frame edge but not too large that my fabric doesn’t stretch over it (or of course that it won’t fit in the frame). 

3. secure the back of the piece

Now for the fun part… we are going to secure the back of our design. Keep those bulldogs in place while you stitching as this will help keep the tension in your fabric and also prevent your design from moving off centre. Using your thread you are going to stitch two sides of the fabric together, pulling the fabric tight to secure. Make sure it is not too tight or the cardboard will bend! My other tip is to make sure that you secure the fabric approx 1-2cm in from the edge of the fabric so that it doesn’t fray the edge. Use as much thread or stitches until you are happy with the place and tension of the fabric and your design. 

4. place the design in your frame

The last step is to pop your design into the frame!!! Because this design was a 3D stumpwork piece, I lined everything up without the glass on top as I wanted it to still be able to pop off the fabric. However if you are framing a standard design, I recommend adding the glass to protect it from dust and staining. 

And then enjoy your new framed embroidery piece!! This is perfect if you are planning to give it as a gift or hang on the wall. 

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