“But how will I hang it?”
As I start to sell more of my work, especially to people who have never purchased an art quilt – or any kind of fiber art – I'm hearing this question more and more often. Until recently, I concentrated on teaching and speaking to earn money that contributes to our family income. But now, I'm exploring other ways to make money from my art. That includes joining my county artists’ guild, and participating in my first open studio tour this fall (read more about that here!), and exploring gallery representation, art exhibition opportunities beyond quilt shows, and making other kinds of merchandise featuring my artwork.
I did an entire video workshop for Quilting Arts on the topic of finishing and hanging quilts; the DVD is available for purchase on my website, and you can also purchase it as a digital download at QuiltingDaily.com.
Quilting Arts Workshop DVD
Fabulous Finishes: Seven Techniques for
Binding, Facing, Framing, & Hanging a Quilt
“Susan explains and demonstrates seven techniques that show not only how to bind and hang your quilts with perfect results every time, but also meet the requirements of quilt show judges. Techniques Susan covers include: Basic quilt binding with mitered corners; satin-stitch edging that lies flat and doesn’t buckle; pillowcase-turn method that allows finishing the edges before quilting; facing a quilt for a clean, contemporary look; framing in a shadow box; hanging using slats to keep a quilt straight and flat; and making a quilt sleeve with space for a hanging rod or slat.” 73 minutes. $24.99
Here’s information about some of the methods I’ve used to hang my quilts, and what I like – or don’t — about them:
Traditionally, quilts are hung up on a metal or wooden rod or slat, and a fabric sleeve sewn to the back of the quilt. You can download and print a PDF of my directions for doing this on my website here by clicking here. This method is preferred for large traditional quilts and art quilts because it provides the best support of these heavy pieces.
Sawtooth picture hanger
My small pieces, including the one above, “Blue Raven,” often have a sawtooth picture hanger sewn on the back, so they can simply hang – as is – on a single nail. Most of my small pieces (and lots of my medium sized ones, too) have a layer of interfacing (usually Pellon 910) inside, so they are somewhat stiff, and this helps them hang flat, too. Here’s how it looks on the back:
I know this may seem odd to people who have purchased paintings or prints, which are always framed or mounted in some way, but many people who collect fiber art prefer “naked” fiber art because 1.) they can examine the stitching on the back, 2.) it is easier to appreciate the texture from the quilting because the light directly hits the piece, 3. it’s lightweight, and easy to move to another location, if desired.
As long as it is not hung in a place where it could get splashed (in a bathroom or near a kitchen table), this is an option.
“But what about dust?!?” you ask. You can simply shake it out and hang it back up.
One drawback to this option is that “naked” fiber art invites touching, sometimes unwanted touching by people with dirty fingers. Toddlers who have just eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, for example. If that’s a real possibility at your house, consider the options below.
Framed under glass
To frame a piece under glass, I recommend stitching down to an acid free mat board and then framing it either in a regular frame with spacers, or in a shadow box. This way the fabric does not touch the glass, which is important because fabric can get mildewed if water gets between the glass and the fabric. You can learn how to do this using my directions by clicking here.
Here’s a small piece (above) in an inexpensive IKEA shadowbox. It's stitched down to a piece of acid free mat board first.
My “House Rules” piece at the very top of this post was also done this way. Some shadowboxes have a hard surface covered by fabric at the back, so it’s impossible to stitch a piece down to it. In this case, I just pin the piece to the backing.
Lightweight pieces can simply be pinned to the wall. This is easiest on drywall, using small brass appliqué pins or very fine nails.
This piece, “The Moon Sees Me” (a miniature version I made for myself after I sold my 2012 piece,“I See the Moon” to Karey Bresenhan/International Quilt Festival Collection) is light enough to hang beautifully with two tiny nails, which I inserted through the back of the quilt just at the top, and then lightly tapped in with a small hammer. (Don’t nail through the front of the quilt.)
My favorite way to hang medium sized pieces is to use wooden slats, either just at the top, or at the top and the bottom (see the photo above). The wooden slat at the top has just one hole drilled through the very center. It slides through two sections of a snug sleeve, one at each side of the piece. A second slat in a sleeve at the bottom weighs the piece down so it hangs very smooth and flat. When you hang it up, you can slide the top slat a bit to the left or right until it is weighted properly and hangs straight.
Here’s my piece “Up and Away!” hanging in my studio on one nail:
And lastly, a reminder that I do sell much of the work that I make. Simply go to my website (and look under “FIBER ART.” You can click on a thumbnail image or use the arrow buttons to scroll through the pieces (nearly 200). Under each one is information, including the year it was made, the size, materials and techniques, and a price or notation that it has been sold. I work with buyers to find a hanging solution that works for them.