sort of a tutorial
My method for stretching cross-stitch work has evolved over the years. I was taught one way, read about another, and then settled on a third way I invented for many years. However, I'm finally ready to proclaim yet another method superior to the others, and it just took a little common sense to arrive at it.
There are two schools of thought when designing for cross-stitch. The first way is for purists. Simply stretch the cross-stitch and frame. No mat, no glass. It's a style that has worked for centuries. A more contemporary approach is to stretch, mat, and glaze the work as one would a fine print or watercolor. Either way the work is presented, the stretching method is the same.
Get tools handy: flathead pins, thimble, straight edge, granny glasses. Cut acid-free foam to 1/8" shy of intended overall size for to allow for fabric thickness.
Protip: Cross stitch people work in very small detail and think about design that way, too. One time I asked a cross-stitcher how far out from the stitches she's like me to position the mat. I was thinking maybe an inch or half an inch. "5 stitches out," she said. And she brought a stitch gauge out of her purse. I think of that conversation everytime I stretch a cross-stitch. In my centering process, I always count rows out rather than solely relying on my straight edge.
Above, I have located the centers on all four sides, and used low-tack framer's tape to follow specific rows so I don't get all slanty in the stretch. Below, I locate the center on the acid-free foamboard. The cross-stitch will be pinned to the sides of it.
Like canvas-stretching, tacking begins from the centers and radiates out...
...following rows in the fabric.
The client here chose the purist's approach and went with a perfectly matched slender whitewash ornate frame.