I think one of the most important elements to your needlework once it is done is to find a good framer. This is essential to not only showcasing your piece, but to protecting it as well. Having worked in a needlwork shop, here are some of the best pointers:
1) Find a shop that knows how to handle and frame needlework. A lot of places don't!!! They will say they do, but they really don't. Contact your local needlework club or guild and find out where they go. They can generally point you toward one or more places. It will not be a big chain craft store. It will be a locally owned, mom and pop type operation. Remember this!!
2) Realize your framing won't be cheap! To keep the cost down, find molding that is below $10 a square foot. This will eliminate quite a few pieces right off. Now, occasionally, there is no other frame for your piece, but one that cost mega bucks! Just be prepared and don't pass out when they quote the price.
3) If you don't want glass or mat, but want a "puffy" look, tell them you want it padded. I only recommend this on pieces that will be out for limited times. More seasonal/holiday type stuff, since you don't want long periods of dust accumulating on it. If it does get dusty, you can use a blowdryer to get off the dust or use a very soft paint brush and lightly brush it.
4) A good framer will call you if they notice anything amiss with your piece - a thread that has come undone, a dangling bead, if it looks like you missed some stitches in a section, etc.
5) A good framer will call if the molding you ordered comes in looking different. That could mean the coloring looks different - maybe your molding was wood kind of "white-washed" gray, but it comes in with a more pink or blue tone to the gray. They should also call if your molding comes in more "rustic" looking - maybe with more knots in the wood or not as smooth as the sample molding.
A couple notes about your piece before you take it to the framer:
1) Your piece does not need to be washed beforehand. Generally your stains are around the edges where you have handled it and will be covered by a mat or frame and won't be seen. Also, washing can damage your threads and make them loose. And, if you use hand-dyed fabric or threads it will be ruined.
2) You can iron your piece, if necessary, but, iron it from the back side with a cloth seperating it. You don't need to get out every single crease or wrinkle to perfection if you can't. The stretching process should take care of that. Gently stretch it in your hands to see if it does. You will be surprised about how the little wrinkles and creases are now gone. :-)
3) You should have at least 3" inches of fabric on each side outside of your design. This gives them room for stretching your piece and for matting. If you have a larger piece - like a Mirabilia or Lavendar and Lace piece, etc. - you should have 4". This is also true if you plan on using more than 2 mats.
Hope my tips were helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me.
Also...framing horror story I heard about while at the needlework store...we had a customer that spent about 3 years stitching a HUGE, beautiful piece. Linen, silk threads, beads, the whole nine yards. She took it to Michael's to be framed. She didn't hear from them about it being finished, so she finally went to the store with her little paperwork in hand to ask about it. She was told they lost it!!!!!! When she got upset with them, they told her that she shouldn't have brought it to them if it was that valuable and meant that much to her!!! Can you believe it?! No apology, no reimbursement for the lost piece, nothing!!!