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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.

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