Ever wanted to frame your own piece in a plastic flexi-frame, but lacked the know how and confidence to do it? I hope this series of photos will help you to have a go. By all means, try it out on a spare piece of fabric first if you're afraid to spoil your work, but it's quite straightforward, so I doubt you'll run into any real difficulties.
Flexi-frames can be the ideal solution to mounting a small piece without spending a fortune on professional framing. They tend to come in a few sizes of oval and circle and even in a few colours, although the wood effect one seems to be the most commonly available, followed by the black ones. On the back of the label I found the instructions on how to use it and, whilst following them, I took these photos to share with you, especially as several of the other frames in my basket have no instructions on them and you may also have one that you would love to use if you only knew how....
Take your finished embroidery out of its working frame and, if needed and desired, press it from the back onto a soft towel. Next, after having checked the size using the inner part of the frame and leaving a good inch (up to 3cm) to work with, trim your fabric to shape. As you may be able to make out on the photo here, I drew a light pencil line where I wanted the inner frame to finally be.
Thread a needle with strong sewing thread and work running stitches all the way around the shape about half an inch (just over 1cm) from the edge. Don't finish or knot off the thread, leave it loose.
Place the inner part of the frame onto the back of your work, taking care to position it well (on your pencil outline, if you've drawn one), and begin to draw up the stitches, spreading and evening them out as best you can.
Secure the gathering thread well by tying several good knots and trim off the end of the thread.
Next comes lacing which really stretches your piece and leaves a completely smooth finish. Using a strong thread (I often use a pearl cotton shade that I don't often use for actual embroidery, although I didn't this time) in the end of which you've tied a secure knot that won't slip through your fabric, begin to lace across the piece, pulling each stitch as tight as you reasonably can.
I usually start in the middle and then work towards each edge. You'll probably need more than one length of thread and do cut long threads each time as it soon uses up.
Repeat the process lengthways.
And here's the view from the front after the lacing has been completed - nicely smooth and tight over the inner frame. Don't worry about any tiny bulges at the edges, (such as you can see here at the right hand side/bottom of the piece), as they will be covered by the outer frame.
Two whole stages in one here, as I forgot to take a picture part way through - whoops! Snap on the outer frame from the front, making sure you have the hanging hook part in the right place. Finally, cut a piece of felt to match the size and sew that onto the back to hide and protect the back of the work.
And that's it! Here's the finished thing modelled hanging in our hall way. It's now in Oxford in the home of a sweet 82 year old Japanese friend.=)
A good hour's work, wouldn't you say? Please feel free to share your successes and experiences with this type of frame in the comments section. Links to your work are very welcome.=)
Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2013