Creative Ways to Finish & Display Your Needlework

24th July 2020

Not long ago, we had a query from a reader asking us about alternative ways to finish or display completed embroidery pieces. This is a question we most commonly receive following the lamentation from a fellow stitcher that, ‘I just don’t have enough wall space!’ So today we thought we would try to explore this problem and perhaps offer a few solutions.

Room for just one more? (source)

On first exploring the issue, our rudimentary online search offered up lots of interesting embroidery ideas, but that doesn’t really address the problem. There are lots of unusual projects we can specifically embroider, but often the dilemma arises when we’ve finished a project we fell in love with, but then don’t know what to do with it. 

It’s that stunning threadpainted flower, or the cross stitch sampler we just had to do, or perhaps the cute little stumpwork insect which stretched all our skills but is finally complete.

You put your needle down, take a deep breath of satisfaction and… now what?

Of course, one’s first instinct is to send it to the framer and get it up on the wall. But which wall? And are the other members of the household really going to appreciate yet another framed piece taking up that one last section of empty wall space at the far end of the corridor? Fortunately, there are other solutions.

Firstly, you need to consider the size, dimensions, types of materials you’ve used and how fragile it might be. 

Small, fragile finishes like stumpwork pieces, could fit neatly in the lid of a box. You don’t even need to go to the expense of buying a made-for-purpose wooden box. There are lots of books and videos around telling you how to make your own boxes onto which you can mount your piece. Boxes work for all kinds of embroidery too, from threadpainting to cross stitch, goldwork to Hardanger and as an added bonus, they are super useful too!

For larger pieces, there are a number of ways they can be mounted in items of furniture. Hazel Blomkamp is famous for not wanting to add more things to her walls, so many of her projects are mounted as stools or firescreens or made into trays or cushions. 

Although, one might want to prevent the four-legged members of the family from parking their furry bottoms on those particular cushions…

One of the sad things about putting completed projects on the wall is that the number of people who will ever get to see your beautiful work is limited. Especially if the only wall space available is in the back room of the house where visitors rarely go. More visible solutions may be required.

We’ve found that many surface and counted projects, as long as they are stitched in washable threads and without too many additional embellishments, look absolutely amazing made into tote bags. What could be better than carrying your finished work around with you? The number of comments you’ll get when you’re out with your tote will far exceed anything you might have received from people accidentally stumbling into the back room while they were looking for the bathroom!

If all else fails and framing is the only solution, we know of one incredibly prolific stitcher who has turned her house into a kind of art gallery, putting in place a regular rotation system.

The rotation schedule might mean you switch your hanging pieces every year or every six months, or even more frequently depending on how many projects you have to display.

On rotation day, all of the current pieces come down and get stored away, and the next rotation comes out. That way you can enjoy all of your finished pieces at some stage, and never get bored looking at your walls.

Although we might regret that the fashion for tea towels, doilies, table cloths and matching serviettes has waned, it just isn’t always possible to steer your heart towards projects designed to be practical. Naturally, we love the patterns specifically designed as stitching accessories, baby blankets or evening bags, what about all those others which, at first glance, are designed to be framed and hung on the wall?

The answer is, be creative. When you see that perfect pattern, before you even gather your threads, think to yourself what possibilities it might hold for completion. Perhaps you could stitch it onto the back of a jacket rather than using the required ground fabric? Maybe you could adjust the size or select part of the design so that it fits perfectly in the lid of that box you’ve had sitting there for ages? Or perhaps you could design a quilt with your embroidery as the centrepiece? The possibilities really are endless.

Sunbeams and Starlight by Taetia McEwen from Inspirations issue #107 & the Handpicked range

What kinds of innovative ways have you found to display your embroidery? Have you ever taken a pattern and made it fit into something other than a framed picture? We’ve only scratched the surface of ideas here, so we’d love to hear from you. And shhhh…what is that noise? Ah yes, that’s our sorely overloaded walls breathing a gentle sigh of relief.

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