Updated July 19, 2022.
You already know that a great trick for inexpensively finishing your needlepoint is to make the background to fit a standardized frame. I’ve done this with lots of pieces to great effect.
But what if the piece already has a background? Even worse, what if the background is a shape, such as a heart or an oval that’s hard to mat?
Then make a needlepoint “mat.”
I faced the problem with Zen Rocks from Blue Dogwood Designs, our transparency piece. Instead of trying to frame the oval, I centered it into a 5″ x 7″ rectangle.
Find a color that will coordinate well with your design and then look for stitches that will create a subtle texture (because matboard isn’t usually smooth). If you want to be adventurous, look to bolder patterns taking a cue from mats covered in scrapbook paper or fabric. I used T Stitch in Champagne Pepperpot Silk. This hint of pink sets off the bolder lime background nicely.
You can now stitch your needlepoint mat. Once the entire area is stitched, you will need to do one more step to finish the design. Traditional mats are cut with a beveled, i.e. slanted, edge. This exposes the inside color of the mat, usually white or black, and creates a visual boundary between the picture and the mat.
In order to complete the effect, a border needs to be added. Happily with thread, we are not limited to black and white. Your stitched boundary can be any color, but your choice should have a contrast in at least two of these: color, value, or texture. My metallic boundary contrasts in value and texture.
Your stitch should be something narrow, solid, and raised. Couching would work, but so would any of three whipped stitches. The narrowest, which I used here is Whipped Backstitch, below.
Slightly thicker is Whipped Double Backstitch, below.
The thickest choice is Whipped Chainstitch, below.
Do not pick a thicker stitch; remember matboard bevels are very thin.
Once this is complete, your needlepoint is ready to frame. I’ve created needlepoint mats for pther projects, and it’s a great solution.