Finishing and Framing

Finishing and Framing

Many times after people begin felting and make several flat pieces that are to be wall hangings, they start wondering how to hang or frame their pieces. There are as many ways to hang and frame a piece as there are to felt a piece. So these are just a few ideas of how I have framed pieces in the past. I have found that if you are making a piece specifically to hang on the wall, that it is a good practice to think about how you are going to hang it before you start. That way, if you want a specific size or need an edge that is different in some way, you can plan that in advance. Of course, if I followed this advice more often, I wouldn’t be making up new ways to finish or frame a piece 🙂

One way to hang a piece without a frame is to use a stick or branch to hang the fiber art piece. I think this works best with pieces that are not square and have an organic edge to them. I usually just stitch around the branch and then stitch into the back of the felt piece, making sure that I am not stitching all the way through the felt.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAIn this piece which is quite large, I made a frame of sticks lashed together and then used leather cording to attach the felt to the frame.

Rhythm of AutumnThis is another large piece called the Rhythm of Autumn. It is also fairly heavy for felt as it is very wrinkled and multi-layered. Plus, I couldn’t decide whether I liked it to hang horizontally as it is shown or vertically.

Stitched Felt BackingSo I cut a piece of commercial felt to fit the back, stitched two sleeves on it and then hand stitched the entire piece by hand to the back of the felt. You can see that I added a label. This was a slightly heavier paper that I printed and then fused to the commercial felt before stitching it on. I use a dowel rod with two D rings on each end to hang this piece on the wall.

Two Quilt SleevesHere you can see the dowel rod and the D ring and that you can hang this in either direction because of the two sleeves.

Framed with Photo Matting

When I frame a piece, usually I use a matte board behind the felt piece, put a couple of holes in the matte board behind each corner of the felt so that the holes won’t show. Then I stitch the piece to the matte board making sure that I don’t stitch through the front of the felt. For this piece, I decided to use photos as the matte. I don’t particularly like the result because it seemed much too busy.

Framed Iris‘Iris’ was framed the same way with a white matte behind it. Much better in my opinion.

Small Stitched SampleIf you have a very small piece, this embroidery is only 2″ x 4″, you can make your own matte with a piece of card stock. You cut the hole out of the center (measuring carefully) and then this was sprayed with spray paints to match the thread colors. Then this could be framed to give it more presence.

Stitched BearTo have this grizzly “float” on the wall, I used a piece of board across the back at the top. I drilled holes in the board and stitched the felt to the board.

Wooden Bar with HangerIt hangs very well and the board helps to keep the piece flat without drooping.

Tree StoriesThis piece also “floats” on the wall but is hung with a quilt sleeve.

Quilt SleeveIf you have made many quilts to hang on the wall, you’ve probably made a quilt sleeve. There are lots of tutorials on the web as to how to make them. But it’s easy if you’re using felt. Just stitch the edges of a strip of felt to the back and you can run a rod through for hanging. You can cut a hole in the center of the felt sleeve so you only need to use one nail to hang or you can hang from both ends of the rod. Here I used a piece of heavy wire and bent the end into a ring.

Sixties QuiltAnother way to hang light pieces that won’t sag is to use little plastic rings on each top corner. I don’t particularly like this method but it works and it’s easy.

Plastic RingYou can find these little rings at craft stores and you just hand stitch them on. If the piece is wide you may need more than two and that makes it a little difficult to hang easily.

All of these pieces are embroidered either by hand or machine and they have been laced to matte board. This method would also work with a felt piece. But you need to remember to make the felt piece about 4″ bigger around so that there will be enough felt to stretch around the matte board and lace to hold tight. I find this method really effective for embroidery because it generally needs the stretching to keep it from sagging. Then once the piece has been laced, you can easily put a matte board behind it and frame it.

Needle Felted Yeti in FrameThis needle felted Yeti was actually laced to the background and then put in the frame. He is so exuberant you can barely see the frame.

Glued to BoardThese pieces I planned the finishing from the start. I wanted to make mixed media stitched work to adhere to the boards. After stitching, I painted gel medium on the fabric so it became stiff and then glued them on to the boards with more gel medium.

Canvas with Felt - Off Center

One way of “framing” that is fairly simple is to paint a canvas to complement the fiber art and stitch the fiber art to the painted canvas. You will need to poke holes in the canvas so you can stitch the piece to the canvas. Larger pieces will need more holes and more stitching to prevent sagging. As you can see in this felted river rock piece, you don’t have to place the artwork right in the center of the canvas.

Felt on CanvasI did a mottled paint on the background but even just plain black is great for a lot of artwork.

Ice FlowersAnother way to finish a piece is how I did Ice Flowers above. I stitched the red flower center to a background heavy fabric that has been dyed and then wrapped the green fabric around stretcher bars. Stretcher bars are not really expensive and come in a variety of sizes. But pre-planning helps to give you a nice border that looks like matting.

Stretcher Bars on Ice FlowersYou put the stretcher bars together. The center bars are extra support to keep the rectangle squared up.

Ice Flowers Stapled to Stretcher BarsThen you wrap the stretcher bars and staple the fabric down to the bars. I found several good tutorials on how to do this on YouTube. I am going to cover the back with a piece of commercial black felt and apply a hanging device like you use for most pictures.

Stitched LabelInstead of using a label, I just stitched my signature and the name of the piece on the lower right corner of the backing felt.

Book CoverAnd if nothing else comes to mind, you can always turn a flat piece of felt into a notebook cover, right Zed? 🙂

How do you finish your pieces? We’d love to hear your favorite way to frame or finish your fiber art.

51 thoughts on “Finishing and Framing

  1. A wealth of ideas – all good! You’ve shown that there’s no one ‘frame’ that ‘fits all’ – each piece of art decides which frame it wants.

    1. That is definitely true Lyn – that is why I try to think ahead of time how the piece will be finished. Then I run into less “issues” at the end.

  2. I have also been through all these incarnations of hanging processes. Most of my work has to be mounted on canvas with a wire on back. This is gallery rules. But each piece presents a new challenge.

    1. Mounting on canvas is definitely a more traditional way to hang that most galleries will accept. I guess it just depends on what you are planning on doing with the work.

  3. Thanks for the ideas–there are some really good options here. I have mostly framed pieces with a traditional matte and frame and on occasion, have also hung a piece from a driftwood branch. For one large piece, however, I cut a piece of foam board smaller than the item and lightly glued the felt to it with Elmer’s glue, which is water soluble should I need to remove it from the foam board. The felt is light enough that I didn’t have to use a lot of glue and worry about it penetrating to the front of the piece. To attach it to the wall, I used velcro strips with sticky backs, one side stuck to the foam board and the other to the wall. It doesn’t damage the walls and gives the “floating” appearance. To ensure you get your velcro placement correct, cut the strips while both velcro sides are stuck together (does that make sense?). Remove the protective tape on one side and stick the velcro on the foam board with it’s “partner” still attached but the protective tape still in place. Figure out the placement on the wall (you could mark where the corner edges will be lightly with pencil or something). Once you are confident about the location, remove the protective tape, line up your wall marks and press against the wall. If you need to remove the piece, just pull it off the wall velcro, which can also be carefully removed so as not to damage the paint. This was a good alternative for me, as I have plaster walls that don’t take well to nails. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the additional hanging idea – I understand what you mean about the velcro and this would certainly work well for lighter pieces.

  4. Ruth, thanks so much for describing and showing the many ways you have mounted your felt works.
    While I am not at the stage where I am mounting many various wall hangings, I did make two wall hangings which I mounted on dowel rods. I sewed simple loops of twill tape on the back, and then slid it on the dowel. I am not convinced this is the best method for my particular felt works, but this suits me for now; however, I will be sure to use your ideas for future projects!

  5. Great post Ruth! Really useful to have a reference for some many options, I have used the “toothed” side of velcro to attach smaller pieces of felt to matt (mounting) board, the teeth grip the felt so no need to use the fuzzy side of the velcro and it is easily detached if you want reposition it. Will have to give the lacing method a try….

    1. Thanks Teri – That’s a good idea about using the velcro for small pieces. The lacing method takes some time and fiddling but it is great for thinner pieces that need more support.

  6. brill. im bookmarking this page, im a textile artist (mostly) and looking at different ways of presenting my work, especially for when approaching galleries, your advice will be really useful 🙂

  7. Thanks for all the great ideas Ruth. I have used the dowel and wire on a few pieces, but like the idea of something more professional. I plan to use a shadow box for one of my pieces with a mat board behind, but I’m waiting for a sale and will probably have to paint the mat myself. I would very much like to try the branches. They really look cool.

    1. You’re welcome. I like shadow boxes too but many times they are so expensive. The branches work great for really organic pieces.

    1. I have stumbled across a local guy who makes bee hives, so I thought he would have the skills to make frames too, so I’ve had him measure up a couple of pieces for framing 🙂

  8. Loads of great ideas, Ruth, especially the book cover one 😉
    Have you used the glass in the ones with frames? I’ve thought about removing it from frames, because the space is never deep enough or is far too deep or too expensive etc.

    1. Thanks Zed – I almost always take the glass out because I think it takes away from the textural qualities of fiber art.

  9. Many thanks for your ideas.I must confess that I never made a felted textile piece to hang on the wall, but seeing your examples I really want to try as I love to paint with oil and encaustic and it could be fantastic to achieve landscapes or even abstract paintings with fibers and different materials to implement texture.Last year I bouhgt from Danmark a lot of woll mixed with mulberry silk and dyed in fantastic shades, some with winter, summer or autumn colors, so I believe that I can use them for this purpose.Thnak you once more.

    1. You’re welcome Irene – I love doing textile pieces for the wall. It sounds like your wool from Denmark will make beautiful pieces. I hope you’ll stop by the forum and show us what you create.

  10. Thanks for all the great ideas. I had thought to sew my pictures onto mat board. But learning several different ways will help my art stand out even more.

  11. I love all these ideas. For a contemporary look, I have used 1/4 ” plexiglass cut larger than the felt, and attached felt piece with velcro. I drilled two holes, about 10″ apart and ran a wire for hanging. the wire on the facing side doesn’t seem to interfere with the felt. putting two small Plexiglas squares behind the image at the bottom corners keeps the frame parallel on the wall.
    Need to use a mask when cutting or drilling plexiglass and a special blade for cutting it…not expensive…at hardware or big box home stores.

  12. Creating a Floating Frame
    Jane Altobelli©

    I have found this to be the best way to display my felt tapestries. It allows the work to sit parallel with the wall and it hangs beautifully. I did think of this myself but I’m quite sure someone else has come up with the same idea or a better one!

    The first thing I do is measure how far in I want the frame to sit on the tapestry. Usually I make it 1 ½” to 2”. I go to the lumber yard and pick up an 8’ piece of 1” x 1” pine (it actually measures less than 1” x 1”). Pick a straight piece. Measure the width of what you want your frame to be and cut two pieces. Place them on the back of the tapestry (top and bottom) where you want them to be and measure between them. Cut two pieces that length.

    Now that you have your four frame pieces, get some carpenter’s glue and glue the join together on the upper strip and one of the side strips. You will have two pieces forming a corner. Make sure that it is square by forcing the corner into something you know is square. Once you have done that, staple two ¼” staples across the join. Turn the piece and place two more staples across the join. Check to make sure the corner is still square. This is not a thing of beauty but it works and it’s going to be covered anyway.

    I use cotton ticking for my frame wrap because it is sturdy and tightly woven. I lay the frame on it so that I have a 2” border all the way around. I rip the edges to “cut” the fabric. To make sure that the thing is even, I tug on the bias until the edges are parallel. Once the frame is sitting on the cotton with 2” borders, I draw a line on the outside of the frame with pencil. Take the frame off and fold the cotton edges over the lines and iron them. This way you will be able to fold the edges in and centre the cotton on the back of your tapestry. At this point you might want to take a permanent fabric marker and sign your name and/or give a title to the artwork. To make sure that there will be no ripples or unevenness on the cotton backing, you might just give the portion that will be in contact with the tapestry a quick blast with fabric spray glue – the kind that quilters use to position pieces before they sew them. Then smooth from the centre out to the edges and pin the cotton down. With doubled white thread sew a short running stitch right on the drawn line. This is the only thing that is holding your frame to the tapestry so be sure the cotton is firmly attached.


    Once the cotton is attached, put the frame back and place strips of double sided tape along the inside edges of the frame. Starting with the middle of the top, bring the fabric over the frame and let it stick to the tape. If the fabric is a bit long, just tuck it under the frame. You must make sure that you are pulling it taut from the stitching and around. Do the same on the bottom and then on the two sides. In this way stick down the rest of the border. Staple the cotton to the frame on the inside edges. The corners are rather messy and I would like to have some advice on how to make them look tidier. I have thought about taking some of my leftover pieces of hard felt and cutting them into squares and gluing them to the corners.

    The last thing is the wire. Measure 1/3 down from the top of the inside frame and make a mark on the sides. Screw in eyelet screws and thread wire through them keeping it taut and wrapping the excess around the wire.

    That’s it.

    This works because felt is so light. I think if you wanted to hang a quilt or a hooked rug, the wooden frame would have to be made of thicker wood.


    January 3, 2012

    (I actually have these instructions with pictures, but they didn’t show up in this paste.)

  13. I just completed my first felted painting and was searching for ways to display. There are many useful tips here which I plan on trying for this and future projects. So happy I found this site.

  14. This post will be a great reference for future projects! Thanks for compiling so many options! I haven’t ever tried stretcher bars but I recently started a piece and that might be just the way to go. I have had a lot of success with reusing old frames. Like you, I almost always remove the glass. I have also used canvas, the little plastic rings, driftwood, quilting sleeve, and once just stuck a piece on a nail on the wall (so no frame at all). It really does depend on what you want to do with a piece! How did you stitch the wood piece to the felt for your grizzly?

  15. Wow! So many fantastic ideas – I’d searched many websites before coming across this gem. Brilliant. Just brilliant.

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