Glass or No Glass; Whats Best When Framing Cross Stitch?

When it comes to finishing your cross stitch, there aren’t many things that go through your head other than “I need to show this to everyone!”, however, many people feel unsure or confused about framing. However, that really doesn’t need to be the case. We’ve got a detailed guide on how to frame cross stitch on the blog already, but there is one big question that keeps coming up; should I add glass or not?
Sadly, this is one of those questions that doesn’t have an absolute answer. Sometimes you should, and sometimes you shouldn’t.

When You Should

In most cases, when you frame cross stitch, you should use glass. There are loads of benefits, such as keeping it clean, stopping strong sunlight and making it look more professional. However, all of those things can only be achieved if you frame your cross stitch correctly. Let’s look at the parts of a frame to get a better look at this:

Parts of a artwork frame (Source:
Parts of a artwork frame (Source:

When you want to protect it

As you can see from above, there are loads of parts to a standard frame, and each of these has its own purpose. The big two we’ll look at though, are the glass (obviously) and the window mat. This window mat is often the thing people forget, however its purpose is to keep the work away from the glass. In most cases, this isn’t too important, but when it comes to cross stitch, where the stitches extend beyond the aida, it’s super important. Without it, the stitches get squashed against the frame.

When its required for the pattern

Sometimes, however, you might need to get rid of the matting. And that’s fine! Take my Star Trek Voyager LCARS cross stitch for example. I wanted to make it look like it was a computer screen on a wall, and as a result, putting in matting would ruin the look. But I still used glass. How did I get away with that? I used spacers. There are loads of different types, but they all work the same way; small bits of plastic that push the glass away from the cross stitch.

Star Trek Voyager LCARS Blueprint cross stitch by Lord Libidan
Star Trek Voyager LCARS Blueprint cross stitch by Lord Libidan

You don’t like the look of framed work

But what if you don’t like the idea of framed work? Well, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t frame it. Take a look at the example below I found on Reddit. It’s a Pacman screenshot cross stitch, fairly average (although well stitched) and when framing it, they added a bold yellow matting. The framing technique here has allowed the whole piece to stand out like a classic arcade cabinet. Now, bright yellow might not work for the cross stitch you’re doing, but by using clever framing, you can not only add to the cross stitch, but elevate it.

Pacman screenshot cross stitch in frame by gmatom (Source: Reddit)
Pacman screenshot cross stitch in frame by gmatom (Source: Reddit)

When You Should Not

Now, that said, there are times when you should ditch the glass. By doing this, you’ll lose the benefits of having a glass, so you need to be more careful (see our tips at the bottom of the page) but sometimes glass just won’t work.

When you don’t like the glass

Yes, you can have a glass preference. 😛
When it comes to glass, some people don’t like the shine it creates, and if your artwork is somewhere glare is a problem, then you might know what I mean. So glass companies came up with solutions. Two specifically. The first is a slightly bumpy textured glass, which in my opinion makes the artwork harder to see. If you had a small count, this wouldn’t work. Equally, there is another type with a green coating on it (like eyeglasses) which ruins the look if you’ve stitching with anything other than green.
The only solution? Ditch the glass.

Glasses with anti-glare coating (Source: youtube)
Glasses with anti-glare coating (Source: youtube)

When its required for the pattern

The other instance when you might not include glass is when it’s required for the pattern. Now, there really aren’t many patterns like this, so I’ve had to use another example of mine. In the below Pokemon 3D cave cross stitch you can see the cross stitch extends out of the frame, by nearly 30cm. There was no way I could frame this with glass, so I had to ditch it.

3D Pokemon Cave Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan, bottom view
3D Pokemon Cave Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan, bottom view

Tips for framing without glass

As seen above, sometimes there is a valid reason for not framing with glass, and honestly, that’s not a problem. However, there are impacts of not framing with glass. With these tips, you should be able to keep those to a minimum!

  • Make sure its washed and ironed before you frame it; it’ll last longer
  • Keep it away from direct sunlight; the threads will keep their color longer
  • Use a special acid-free backing paper for framing to stop dust leaching into the artwork

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Melissa

    Not sure when this post was released, but there are some really good coated glasses on the market now. Tru Vue makes a water white glass with an anti-reflective coating that is practically invisible, and it comes in two grades of UV protection – 70% and 92%. (I believe the ArtGlass brand has equivalents to these as well). Most glass has iron in it which makes that slightly blue-green colour. Water White glass has had most of this removed, which, combined with the different coatings used from “standard” UV protected class, results in truer colours. Also, the coatings used for Acrylic/Plexi glazing are different from the ones used on glass, so you may find those visually more to your liking. Bonus for Acrylic/Plexi is that it is actually safer than glass for the fabric, and against breakages. Most framers will have small samples available for you to look at so check with your local shop to see what they offer.

    1. Franz Rogar

      More over now that Plexiglass (the company, thus the registered brand) released its material with UV coating museum quality (99.7% UV light filtered). They call it “PLEXIGLAS® Gallery UV 100” (yeah, the 100 is rounding up the 99.7%…)

      It doesn’t weight nor break as glass and it protects against UV. To me, the perfect material (there are other companies that also make UV acrylic sheets, but the brand product ain’t expensive at all).