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Rated: E · Article · How-To/Advice · #2308221
For works on fabric, a cost-saving step prior to framing. (wc:598)
A How-To by yours truly, a UK Guild Qualified Framer (GCF)

‘Picture framing is expensive.’

9 out of 10 of my customers lament this to me, and there are very few conservation-grade shortcuts I can take to save them money. But if they are a needleworker, I can at least teach them how to lace their own work, preparing it for framing and saving them paying my hourly rate to do it for them.

*BoxCheckR* Archival Board
Acid-free, preferably cotton, board is needed. I advise getting this from a picture framer, where our suppliers meet rigorous standards. Too often, other ‘acid-free’ boards have a subclause of ‘at time of manufacture’. This means they are buffered and will revert to being acidic, which will ultimately result in harmful stains on the needlework.

*BoxCheckR* Needle & Cotton
I use a roll of crochet cotton. The rule is that the cotton needs to be a lighter weight than the fabric so that if there is ever stress applied, the cotton will break before the handcraft rips. It is like a ‘fuse’ in that instance, sacrificial to preserve the valuable item.

*BoxCheckR* Time and Patience are needed.
This is not a task to rush into but rather is a quiet and even meditative chore.

1. Position your needlework onto the card in a visually pleasing position. Personally, I like at least 1” bare cloth around needlework, the blank space accenting the craft work.

2. Carefully flip the work over, keeping the fabric in the right place, and lay it down on a clean cloth. Put a paperweight on this.

3. Thread your needle with the free end of your ball of cotton; do not cut off a length; at this stage, we don’t know how much of the roll we need.

4. Fold the two sides of your needlework over the board and start your ‘lacing’ at the top. Pierce your needle through the righthand top of the fabric, and in a horizontal line, draw it through the left-hand side. Moving back to the right, half an inch lower than your first thread, thread your needle through again. Continue from side to side, drawing through more cotton as you need it, in a continuous thread until you reach the bottom of your piece.

5. Once the thread is loosely laced all the way, you can cut the cotton and tie off the first end. Now draw the first line of cotton tight, hold the tension in place with a finger, and then tighten the next line of thread. Continue doing this until you reach the end of the panel, and tie it off securely.

6. You are halfway there! Turn the work over and check the alignment. This is the time to make sure all the weave is aligned with the board and the work is centred currently.

7. Now, back to work. Placing it upside down again, turn your needlework and board 90 degrees, fold the final edges into each other, and repeat the lacing process (steps 6-8).

*Ribbon*Congratulations, you have finished preparing your new heirloom piece ready for framing!

The process of lacing is a very simple one, and when you are in the right mental zone, can even be pleasurable. That final moment, when you turn the work over and it is all beautifully wrinkle-free and tensioned, is a grand reward for the diligent work.

Doing it yourself has the added benefit of knowing that you have used a time-proven technique, and your work will now last on for future generations.
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