Saturday, July 10, 2010

Framing fiber art

 A nice way to finish a small piece is to frame it. This makes the piece less likely to get soiled by dirt or dust, and makes it more appealing to people uncomfortable with how to hang fiber art. It also makes small pieces more finished and formal looking. I did this with House Rules 2 (above) last fall, but forgot to blog about it. House Rules 2 is 16.5" square. Today, Debbie wrote to ask me how I hung my smaller art quilts, so I figured this was a good time. 

Textile pieces should never be framed directly under glass, because any moisture that collects inside the frame can be pressed into the fabric, causing water marks or mildew. Either choose a shadow box, or add spacers between the glass and the mat. You can take your fiber art to a good quality framing shop and they can do this for you. Or you can do it my way, with a $20 frame from Ikea and a little elbow grease. If you choose this method, make sure you sign the back of your work so that it will still bear your name even if it is taken from the frame later.
Look for acid free mats (see Willa’s notes in the comment section after this post). I found a $20 shadowbox frame at Ikea (above). Measure your quilt, and then open the frame and measure your mat. Subtract the size of your quilt from the size of the mat. (Example: Your quilt is 17" square, and the mat is 20 inches square, so 20-17=3. Divide this number by 2 (Example 3÷2=1½.) Add 1/8" to this measurement (Example 1½ + 1/8 = 1-5/8".)



On the back of the mat, draw a pencil line that is this far in from the outer edge, around all the sides (above). My piece was square, so I drew in the same distance on all sides. 
Place the mat on an old, clean towel. Use a heavy needle or nail to punch holes along this line every ½" or so (above). You don't want the holes to be too big, but they need to be big enough that you can pass through them with the needle and thread you’ll be using in the next step.
Thread a smaller needle with heavy thread, such as hand quilting thread. Place the quilt on the top of the mat and align it with the holes. Take a stitch on the back of the quilt so that your knot is on the back, and bring the needle out at the corner. Go down through the corner hole (above) and come up through the next hole (below).
 Take a small stitch through the back of the quilt (below). Try to get all the layers except the front (because you don’t want your stitches to show on the front). 
 Go back down through the same hole (see below), and then on to the next one.
Continue in this manner, pulling the thread taut every few stitches, until you have gone all the way around. If your thread runs out, make a large knot on the back of the mat. Secure your stitches with tape on the back (below). Acid-free artist’s tape offers the best protection for your piece (see Willa’s comment below this post).
Remember to sign your name and date on the mat with a Micron Pigma pen (below). Most artists sign in the lower right corner.
 Clean the glass, insert the mat with the quilt stitched to it, and finish framing according to the frame’s directions. Voila! Now you can hang your fiber art the same way you’d hang any other piece of art in your home. 

NOTE: These directions are now available in a PDF format you can download, print out and save. To download, go to the “Free Stuff” icon in my blog sidebar, or simply click here.