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Long was the Biedermeier Cross Stitch Sampler lounging around. It was thought as a birthday present for my mother-in-law, but I didn't quite know how to frame it. You know how it is. Stitching is fine, but when it comes to finishing ... I've not been stitching long enough in order to have finished some work completely.
First I went to the frame department of a big DIY market. The size of the sampler was a bit unusual (ca. 45 x 50 cm = 18 x 20"), that's why any of the prefabricated frames went off the cards. Two very nice and helpful salesladies spent an hour or so on calculating, until it turned out that the whole framing would cost me at least € 40 to up to 100. This option was off the cards, too, obviously. My budget is rather austere, and if nothing else, I spent twenty weeks on stitching the sampler, after all. Besides, I was told that they won't mount the piece, just put it in the frame as is. And how would I transport a large ironed piece of fabric?
So the sampler was lounging around one week after another, waiting for its big day to come. I didn't even drop by a professional framer, for I was sure that he would charge a lot more still than the DIY market. A couple of internet shops I was browsing through were offering prefabricated frames in the usual sizes only. One shop though was offering custom frames in a wide range of sizes, materials and colours, with and without glass, matte etc. and all that at a very low price, but my husband was sceptic and told me to wait. The point was that we still couldn't decide whether we wanted the sampler glassed or not.
You see, a piece of embroidery looks always better without glass. When you have it glassed, it will look flat, and it will reflect the light unless you use archival glass, which is very expensive. I was relieved to read in our Needle'n Thread Community on Facebook that many people didn't have problems keeping embroidered pieces without glass hung on the wall over a long time. An unglassed piece of embroidery has three main enemies: high humidity, direct sunlight and cigarette smoke. Fortunately, in the room of my mother-in-law, the first two are sidelined. She doesn't smoke either, but her daughter does in the room across the hall.
Eventually, we decided to forgo the glass, anyway, and during our next visit in the city of Leipzig, we paid a visit to Boesner - one of the two big art supply stores in Germany. There is a frame department as well, and on their website, they claim to employ professional framers who find solutions for every problem. I was sure, though, that the prices would be professional, too.
But then - what a surprise! The lady in the frame department just had a look at my sampler, as she stated that they had framed a lot of embroidery already, no problem at all, and since we hope for a cheap solution, here it is: get yourself a stretcher frame plus a prefabricated frame, staple the fabric to the backside of the stretcher frame, and screw both frames together. What a simple and cheap solution! We decided on a shadow gap frame on the outside, and I paid as few as € 27.85 in total! On this occasion, I found a very nice sketch book as well.
I was happy, because most of all I had feared the mounting process. I had blocked the sampler on a cork tile, but I still was afraid that it might lose shape again while mounting it on a cardboard by lacing it on the backside. In comparison, stapling the fabric to the stretcher frame seemed to be so easy. It gives you a lot more control over the process of stretching the piece into shape. Now, admittedly, the whole assembly wasn't that easy. The stretcher frame wasn't of the best quality. It was poorly finished, as you can see in the photos below, and the bars didn't match correctly, so that we had to staple them as well. Besides, they came without wedges. But it got covered by the sampler, after all, so that was not a real problem.
Stretcher Frame Edge
Stretcher Frame, Pieced Together
Stretcher Frame with Fabric
My husband and I spent a whole sunday afternoon matching, tautening, stapling, screwing and so forth, ever so often undoing and adjusting over and over again. Until everything fitted. And it seems to me that the finished piece looks quite nice, don't you think? My mother-in-law was really moved by her present. Now the sampler is hanging right in the middle of her wall, and she and her daughter love to study it, for it just so happened that the sampler includes a couple of motifs they can refer to from their past: "Just look, here's our family dog! And oh - that's the pavilion in the gardens of our hometown! And here's a pheasant, just as Dad was hunting them!"
Framed Sampler on the Wall
In the end, the assembly wasn't that difficult at all. It was even fun. It was cheap. And it was a useful experience. Thank you, Boesner, for saving my day!
By the way, did anyone notice, that I changed the signature in the sampler? It just occurred to me, that the original signature was not that of the designer but that of the embroiderer, and since I embroidered the piece myself ...