Lacing embroidery for framing: how to lace your needlework for display

31 March 2021
rainbow embroidery with 'there is hope' wording in cloud A project ready for lacing. Light at the End by Ilke Cochrane, from Stitch issue 130.
Mounting finished embroideries to board is an attractive way to display your work. Learn how to lace the back of your embroidery to keep your stitching looking its best.

Given the time and care invested in any stitching project, it’s worth putting the effort into mounting it properly over a board. It’s something you’ll need to do if you want to frame your finished work, although it also looks great within its own right. The process also helps remove creases and ease out any unwanted bumpy or lumpy areas. Follow our straightforward guide to learn how!

How to lace your embroidery for display

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You will need


  • Sheet of acid-free mount board
  • Padding – lightweight wadding, felt or curtain interlining
  • Calico
  • Strong thread, eg buttonhole
  • Double-sided tape: ½in


  • Cutting mat
  • Craft knife or rotary cutter
  • Safety ruler
  • Set square
  • Sharp HB pencil
  • Towel or soft cloth
  • Scissors – paper, fabric
  • Curved or straight needle


1. Determine the dimensions of your embroidery you wish to be on display. 

2. Use your rotary cutter or craft knife on your cutting mat to cut a piece of mount board to match.

Top tip! Accurate cutting is vital – use a set square to check the corner angles are 90 degrees, and the sides are straight and the exact length.

3. On one side use double-sided sticky tape to attach a single layer of wadding. Trim to the same size as the board.

Top tip! The wadding provides padding for the embroidery and gives a plusher finish. For goldwork or other raised work you may wish to add an extra layer.

4. Cut a piece of calico 1in bigger on all sides than the board. Run double sided tape round all sides of the back of the board. Pull the calico taut around each side and use the tape to hold in place.

5. Position your embroidery centrally over the padded board. Work the top and bottom sides first. From the centre out, carefully smooth and ease the fabric securing with pins at the edges as you go. 

Top tip! For a more professional finish, keep an eye on the grain of the fabric and run it as straight as possible.

6. Repeat for the left and right-hand sides.

7. Turn over and review to ensure the design is positioned correctly and the embroidery is lying flat and square. Adjust as needed. Remember to work from the centre outwards on each side again. Continue to ease the fabric and secure with more pins now you’re happy. 

pins in embroidery

If you fancy stitching Ilke Cochrane’s uplifting rainbow for yourself, you’ll find it and many other fantastic projects in the Stitch issue 130. Or for a regular Stitch fix, check out our digital and print subscriptions!

8. Once the design is central and taut turn over onto a soft, clean cloth. Trim away any excess fabric leaving 1½in on all sides.

9. Fold the short sides in first, then the longer sides on top. Knot a long length of buttonhole thread – ideally you want to complete each section in one run. Starting in the top middle (of the longer side), take your needle through the fabric leaving the knot on the surface. Continue to work long zig-zag stitches lacing from top to bottom. Work towards the outer left side, picking up any tension as you go. Secure your thread. 

lacing back of embroidery diagram 1

10. Knot another length of buttonhole thread and complete the other half. 

lacing back of embroidery diagram 2

lacing back of embroidery for framing

11. For a sharp finish set mitres and pin each corner. 

Top tip! Reduce bulk by cutting away excess fabric from the mitre, being careful to cut at least ¼in away from the corner. 

12. Repeat the process to lace the short sides firmly together. Again, working from the centre to each outside edge in turn. 

lacing back of embroidery diagram 3

lacing back of embroidery for display

13. Use ladder stitch to join the mitres together. 

How to do ladder stitch

ladder stitch

To join two flat pieces, such as fabric covered cards, invisibly, work ladder stitch by running stitches in and out of alternate sides. When the thread is tightened, the stitches should be virtually invisible. It’s much easier to work this stitch with a fine curved needle.

14. Your embroidery is now ready for framing. Alternatively, finish the reverse by covering the lacing with a piece of coordinating felt. Cut the felt slightly smaller than the mounted embroidery and secure in place with blanket stitch. 

Finished rainbow embroidery ready for display

See more of Ilke’s work at

Next, learn how to finish your embroidery hoop for display so you can show off your beautiful creations!

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