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Preparing a Textile Piece for Framing

I have struggled for a long time deciding whether my Textiles should be hung framed or unframed; the quilting world seems to have very strong feelings about the subject.

My decision has been based on appearance, I personally feel that my work looks more like a piece of art when placed in a box frame with glass than hung unframed.

In a fabulous piece on the SAQA website this issue is discussed really well and some of the major points are included below.

Reasons for not framing

The piece may be so large it is cost-probitive to frame with glass.

Not ideal if a piece needs to be posted.

Some people feel that the texture and non-reflective qualities of the fabric are lost when put behind glass.

Many in the quilting world just do not feel a piece should be framed.

You can touch and appreciate the textures of the piece.

Arguments for framing

By using Art glass the piece is kept clean and protected from UV light.  Many people say that Textile Art will not get dirty unframed and that a gentle hoover will remove dust build up very successfully.  The main problem I have found is small black marks from flies.  I live in an old house and fight a loosing battle with spiders and flies.

Art glass is the best glass to use for textiles as it has very low levels of reflection/mirror-like effects and has an excellent level of light transmission making it almost invisible – see below.  It also has a high UV protection reducing over time colour fading.


British Artist Margaret Cooter says ” Having the textile Artwork ‘framed’ means that people used to paintings immediately know what to do about hanging it…. Also the framing makes the show organisers less wary of a ‘strange’ art form.”

Buyers seem unsure how to hang an unframed piece and in my experience are very concerned about how easily it will get dirty, putting them off purchasing.

A framed piece seems to have a greater physical presence and people immediately understand it as a piece of art.

Another important point raised in the SAQA article is that “An excellent tangible benefit of framing is that the same piece in a frame can command a significantly higher price, well beyond the value of the frame itself.  This is mostly because of the projection of the artists own respect and care for the piece, and the buyers perception of it being finished, hangable art worthy of notice”

Box frames are the best way of framing textiles as the glass should never touch the fabrics, this can lead to mildew etc.

How to mount ready for framing

Mounting – If you do decide to go down the framed route, the first problem is mounting your piece on card ready for framing.  A skilled picture framer will obviously do this for you but as this is time consuming this will be a significant cost in addition to framing costs.  I have an amazingly supportive Framing/printing company who have helped me to understand this technique and can highly recommend a book by Susan Brubaker Knapp called ‘Fabulous Finishes’.  This book or Download covers all the techniques for finishing Art Quilts


You will need –

A piece of Acid-Free mount board,

A pencil,

Small nail,

A small hammer,

A needle,

Hand quilting thread (stronger than normal thread), preferably colour matched to the piece.

Artists tape


Mounting Technique

1).  Place a piece of board onto a firm table, cover this with a piece of clean fabric or wadding.

Place your acid -free mounting board (cut to size) right face down onto the fabric.


2).   Place your finished piece right side down onto the back of the board.  Measure and centre the piece carefully (noting which side is top).  Using your pencil draw a line around the piece.


3).  Start tapping holes through the mounting board approximately 1.5cm apart.  Be sure to make these holes slightly within the pencil line to avoid them showing below the piece when finished.


4).    Thread the needle and make a double knot at the end of the thread.

 Tape this down with the artists tape to secure.


5).  Place the textile piece face-down so that the top is furthest away from you on the wadding/fabric.

Then place the front of the board ontop.

The pencil drawn outline should be facing you (also with the pencil marked ‘top’ away from you to ensure the piece is in the same orientation as when you made the pencil mark).

Taking the needle to the front catch a small piece of the wadding and re-insert the needle through the same hole.  With the needle to the back again move to the next hole and repeat all around the piece checking reularly that the holes are not showing and that the piece is still central.



6).  Cover all the stitching with artists tape for added security.


7).  The piece mounted and ready for framing.


Framing – There are two options to framing; ready made box frames or custom made frames from a picture framer.

Shops such as Ikea have very good box-frames that are cheap and attractive, but you are obviously limited to the size and styles they have. It is important however to replace the mount within these frames with Acid-Free mount as the cheaper mount can damage the textiles over time.

I would also highly recommend replacing the cheap glass with Art Glass.

Many galleries however may not accept work framed in such frames, it would be wise to check before framing.

It is vital to use a box frame as the glass must not touch the textile as moisture can collect causing mildew.

The other option is to have a frame made, this is a more costly option but it gives you far more creative choice in frame style, size and colour.

The final decision is obviously down to personal taste and how you wish to view the piece.

Hope thats been helpful.


0 thoughts on “Preparing a Textile Piece for Framing”

  1. Great article. I find people don’t take you as seriously if the piece is not framed. I certainly would be easier/cheaper not to put under glass. Thanks for all the information.

    1. Thanks Judi, I agree and have had very negative results from not popping behind glass, it seems very foreign to buyers. The decision certainly splits quilters! Like you I would love not to have the additional cost…

  2. A very informative and well reasoned discussion, . Your point about the fly spots is really valid. Thanks too for the details on how to mount the work neatly. Isn’t it funny that quilters are such a ‘spike-y’ lot!
    Thanks, Claire