Embroidery Textiles

Preserve and Display

All of us take for granted the familiar and domestic nature of textiles in our everyday life. Some textiles especially those inherited from a previous generation require sensitive handling.

Specialised mounting techniques are required and conservation glass should always be considered.

Consider only safe options rather than the cheaper alternative.

Quality storage is better than poor quality framing.

A large textile collection has special requirements if long term safety is required. Consider framing, storage and other display options in the final decision.

Other presentations include soft wall hangings, hung carpets and woven tapestries.

Modern pieces as diverse as football jumpers, bobbin lace, and table mats require specialized mounting techniques without conservation glass being necessary.

Handy Hints for Embroiderers

Some borders are easier to frame than others and although your framer will do their best, it is very difficult to get a single line of cross stitch or backstitch absolutely straight. You can help by using a hoop or frame to keep the tension even but any problems will only be emphasised by the straight cut of the frame and the mounting of the piece. Borders that will be easier to 'set' straight include these shown.


Frames and Finishes hints on Embroidery
Frames and Finishes hints on Embroidery
Frames and Finishes hints on Embroidery
Frames and Finishes hints on Embroidery
Frames and Finishes hints on Embroidery
Frames and Finishes hints on Embroidery
Frames and Finishes hints on Embroidery


Lacing for Embroideries & Textiles

First Principles of Lacing for Embroideries and Textiles

This particular article was written for the national framing magazine "Profile". The working method is appropriate for the home framer or professional when the only focus is and should be the long term safety of the textile. (Further information is supplied in Embroidery + Textiles)

The pictures below this page show the working method we use for lacing embroideries. A list of materials is included as well as some do's and don'ts. If you would like more information ask us for one of our booklets.

Lacing is reversible, non-damaging and a quality selling feature. It is the safest long term mounting technique, and the more you do it the easier it will become.

Store Textiles by rolling them, embroidery side out, and then wrap them in acid free tissue.

Thick wadding is not better. Use one layer only for glazed pieces — it gives a look of softness and can hide bulky finishes. Unglazed — use 2, or no more than 3 layers for a firm finish.

A clean cloth under the job being laced is a useful precaution against soiling

Be careful at the corners — it is very easy to pull too tightly when finishing and occasionally possible to crack the corner of the board.

Fabric grain — it is very important to pay attention to fabric grain in even weave fabrics such as aida cloth, linen, lugana and canvas used for cross stitch and other counted techniques. Ensure straight grain at frame edge or matboard edge.

Sewn on edges — help to prevent lacing ripples when the fabric is cut short, or is a difficult fabric to handle. Choose a like fibre for edges; calico for cottons or linens. Polyester for silk or wool. When in real doubt choose polyester. It is inert and causes no problems long-term.

Thread end shadows — can be very obvious when mounting is finished. Insert a needle from the front and ease ends under a stitched area. Don’t forget to close over the hole.

The most difficult job is Cross stitch — combining heavy and light stitching areas surrounded by a narrow straight border of cross or backstitch. Lace, as demonstrated. If the border and fabric grain is distorted next to the heavily stitched areas add extra lacing threads to increase tension on this section. Steam pressing and then lacing while the fabric is still damp may help.

Warning Over-dampening will risk a colour run.


Wadding: Vilene 255 (pellon) available by the roll from Shann Parkinson with branches in SA, WA and NSW. Any retail fabric outlet should also stock it.

Lacing Thread: Rasant NE11, unbleached or white, available as above

Needles: Yarn darners or chenille — ones you can thread.

Board: Acid free foam core or regular foam core depending on size and conservation requirements.

    Frames and Finishes workshop step 1    1. Sew Calico edges to the background using a straight machine stitch. Lay calico under the fabric allowing enough overlap to ensure a safe flat seam. This enables you to lace into the calico rather than the background fabric. If a lot of tension is required any risk of tearing is only on the calico.
 Frames and Finishes workshop step 2   2. Hold wadding in place with pegs to avoid slipping while positioning embroidery.
 Frames and Finishes workshop step 3   3. Position embroidery and peg in place ready for lacing. Use pegs without ridges between the jaws and always take the pegs off if the piece is going to be left for any length of time.
 Frames and Finishes workshop step 4   4. Lace the longest dimension first. Start with a knot, begin at the centre and work out to the edge. Tension should be very firm but not too tight
 Frames and Finishes workshop step 5   5. Complete the first side. Ensure any knots created when tying on new lacing thread are left away from the calico edge. This will allow re-tensioning without the knot getting caught at the edge.
 Frames and Finishes workshop step 6   6. Make any adjustments to this side before commencing the second side. Sometimes re-tensioning from the outer edge to the centre and tying off the surplus thread can produce a very even result.
 Frames and Finishes workshop step 7   7. Complete the second side — lace only through the top fabric layers at the corners — this allows more flexibility for adjustment. Pegs may again be used to hold position well.
 Frames and Finishes workshop step 8   8. Completed. Frame to be used: 241W (Marks & Co.). Because this piece would only be displayed annually for a short time it was unglazed. If glazing is required a 5mm spacer is essential.
 Frames and Finishes workshop step 9   9. When lacing onto foamcore I prefer the board to be full size, equal to the job size. In this example we cut the double mat prior to lacing and used it as a template for positioning.
 Frames and Finishes workshop step 10   10. An exceptional example of the Blackwork Technique. Original arrangement of traditional borders and fillings. Note the border designs are very "forgiving" for mounting.

To Glaze or Not to Glaze

Many would agree that textiles look better framed without glass, however several important issues should be considered.

Glass will prevent the embroidery absorbing dust and atmospheric moisture while it hangs.

Protector sprays available on the market should be avoided. They darken the colour of the work and cause permanent change. Over time their dust protecting qualities diminish and finally, when cleaning is required, the residue is much more difficult to remove. This chemical coating appears to weaken the canvas, as I have discovered when mending moth damage.

With all embroideries/textiles it is essential a space exists between the glass and the artwork. Textiles "hold" more residual moisture than paper and other artworks and are more at risk of increased humidity and the possibility of mould growth. Embroidered wool on canvas is at the most risk.