How to make a banner frame for your embroidery
Stitch Club founder, designer, sewing teacher and all-round everything
During lockdown, although I was super busy getting the Stitch Club sewing kits ready to launch, I also had time for some laid back embroidery.
Among these, was the Ice-Cream Truck cross stitch pattern, which is available as a download in the shop. But something I often struggle with, is how to display these embroideries that we labour so long on!
The popular method at the moment is simply to mount them permanently in an embroidery hoop. I don't mind this on occasion, but I'm not a big fan of this style for everything.
While stitching the Ice-Cream Truck I was actually inspired by our Applique Banner kit. I love the shape of this, and the simplicity of hanging a banner. What's more, it's easy to get creative at the end and have some fun adding pom poms and tassels!
So here we go, how to make a 'window' type mount for your embroidery.
This doesn't have to be a banner shape - if you want to keep it simple, just work with a square/rectangular border. I'll give measurements for the banner, but you can adapt this however you like.
The main skill to learn is how to make a neat opening using a 'facing'... read on and all will be revealed!
What you'll need
- A piece of fabric to complement your embroidery - around quarter of a metre is plenty (I've used linen)
- Some fabric to use as a backing: calico is ideal as it's sturdy and cheap
- Machine sewing thread to match your main fabric
- A small amount of interfacing to give some structure to the opening
- A piece of interlining or simple craft felt to add weight to your work (optional)
- A disappearing pen of some kind to make marks, or just a pencil if you're stuck
- A length of twine, ribbon or string to hang
- A wooden dowel or similar if you'd like to hang it this way - you could just thread the twine through the channel if you don't have a dowel.
- Paper, pens and ruler or tape measure to prepare the pattern
Note: if you don't have interfacing or interlining, you can manage without these, but they do enhance the finish and the interfacing in particular helps to control the fabric when sewing the 'window'.
First, make your pattern
I'll give measurements for the banner, but you should tailor the window and the finished frame outline to the size/shape you want.
Use the illustrations below to help you draw out your own pattern, but here is a step-by-step guide:
- Start by working out the exact finished size of the window you'd like to frame your embroidery. I worked with tracing paper to make it easier to decide this measurement. This is the pink line on the pattern, and later will be the actual stitching line. Mine measures 14cms wide, and 15.5cms tall.
- Next, draw the finished size/shape of your banner or similar (purple). This creates a border and mine is 2.5cms away from the pink window on all sides. I then extended a further 4cms upwards to create enough space to hem a channel for the hanging rod. I then marked the bottom point at the centre, and joined to the sides.
- Finally, add a seam allowance (red) to three edges (you don't need to add to the top). I used 1cm but it depends what seam allowance you like to sew with. Just make a note of what you added and use this seam allowance when sewing the front to the back.
After following the steps above, you have your main pattern piece. There are a couple more steps to make a second pattern piece for the window:
- Draw or trace your window (pink) onto a separate piece of paper.
- Add a line which is around 2.5cm outside the window on all sides (blue).
You can now cut out your paper pattern pieces. For both pieces, cut around the outer edge line only. Note that with your secondary piece (the window with 2.5cms added) just cut the outer line for now.
Use the patterns to cut the following pieces:
- Main section in outer fabric and backing fabric
- Window piece in main fabric
- Window piece in interfacing
- Main section in felt/interlining
If you're using the felt, trim off the seam allowance, and the added few cms for the channel to reduce bulk.
If you're using interfacing, iron it to the wrong side of your window piece. Follow whatever instructions you have for your brand of interfacing. If you're not sure, here's what I always do:
With the interfacing lying glue side down on the ironing board, hover above it about a cm, with the steam on. The steam will shrink the interfacing a little, meaning it won't shrink as it adheres to the fabric, causing puckering.
Turn the steam off, and reduce to a medium heat setting (if in doubt start low and increase the heat if it's not sticking).
Making sure the glue side is against the wrong side of your fabric, press for a couple of seconds, moving all around to adhere.
Now you can position your embroidery under the frame and pin it in place. Use plenty of pins, and if you like, you can do some tacking (big hand sewing stitches) to hold it in place well. Then stitch around the edge of the window to secure both the facing, and the embroidery. This kind of stitching is called top-stitching and it's helpful to make your stitch length a little longer as it looks nicer. Finish by trimming any excess fabric away from the edges of your embroidery.
As illustrated above right, sew around all except the top edge, at your seam allowance (added to the pattern at the start - mine is 1cm). Then trim away any corners - this helps to give nicely shaped corners by reducing bulk.
The final steps in completing your banner are:
- Turn the banner the right way out, and poke the corners out well to get a great shape. Give it a press.
- Pin the top edge closed with the raw edges together, and zig-zag.
- Using your hanging rod to test fit, fold the channel down a few cms and top-stitch in place.
I really love the finished banner! This would be so fun to hang in a children's playroom, but mine is just going to brighten up my craft room.
Stitch Club cross stitch patterns
If you're looking to get into cross stitch, our downloadable patterns come with a Beginner's Guide to Cross Stitch, to help you get started!