A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Gallery Wrapping Art Quilts

More and more of us are finishing off our textile art by framing it and gallery style is the latest trend.  Ordinarily I tend to buck the trend but I really like this one.  There are many good ways to do this but I thought I’d share how I do it with you.  Feel free, of course, to alter as you wish.

We’re starting out here with a either a 2 or 3 layer art quilt. That is:
 1) a base, a top and batting in between 
(2) a top and felt on the bottom.

The frame can be a store bought stretched canvas or 4 stretcher strips with a piece of foam core board glued to the top of it.

In most cases, I’ve made a quilt and later decided to put it on a frame; however, I’m starting to make them to a specific size before I start. The most important reason is I think it makes a neater final product if the batting ends at the top edge and you don’t have to wrap the whole thing around to the back.  It gets pretty bulky to get a truly square corner.  If I make it to size, I don’t have more batting than I want already stitched beyond the exact size of the frame I’m going to put it on. (The red arrow indicates where the batting stops.)

So, to begin, make sure you have an adequate amount of fabric (minus the batting) around the edges of your quilt to wrap it. You need it come at least a half inch preferably ¾ inch over the side.  Here there’s about an inch but it’s better with a little less fabric so there’s room to tape it when you’re finished. But this works and you can extend the tape beyond the edge or you can trim any excess if it’s larger.

I begin by stapling the center of each of the four sides, then proceeding on one side at a time by stapling all along the edges on both sides, tugging some as you go so it stretches to the frame ever-so-slightly.

Then do the same on top and bottom leaving the corners unstapled until now. I had to go back and pull that staple out of the left corner before I went any further. You'll end up stapling there but to begin it's good to leave some leeway until you know exactly where you want it.

To make your corner, you just tuck, pull and staple as shown. Now, maneuver the fabric to lay flat and pull taut, hold and staple in place.

 Just make sure it’s lying flat, taut and square before putting in the final staples.
Sometimes it folds right over easily and sometimes it takes a little finessing of the fabric to make the last fold nice and neat.

And you might want to catch it here with a staple.

Fold it over .
Hold it in place. 
Tack it down.

Another for good luck!

And there you have it.

Repeat this until all four corners are done and then you’re ready to tape off the edges with gaffer’s tape for a clean look.

You may find that you need some tools to help you pull the fabric taut (gently though!)

I wish I had some canvas pliers, which is on my list of things to buy (grin…a long list).  Here’s a link to onehttp://www.dickblick.com/products/fredrix-premier-canvas-pliers/

But, especially for the smaller sizes, regular pliers do the job.

You can wire your frame before or after you’ve attached your art.

When it comes to wiring the back, D-rings work best but small eye hooks are just fine too,  They go inside the frame so it lays flush against the wall. It’s tricky to put them in though, so this is how I solved the problem of getting those pesky little screw eyes into place with only 2 hands: begin by starting a hole for the screw with a pushpin.  Remove the pushpin and insert the screw eye as shown.
It’s an awkward task because of the size but also the fact that the D-rings are mobile and the placement is on the edge of the frame.

Also, it’s worth picking up some flexible wire for this.  It’s amazing how much easier it is on your fingers.  It also gets nice and tight because it’s easier to wrap around itself and achieve a secure fit.

Loop the wire into the screw eye or D-ring and pull it around first to one side of the wire and then the other. 

Pulling tight wrap the wire around itself repeatedly, pulling and pushing taut as you go.

Now that the first one is in, put the other screw eye in on the opposite side and proceed with inserting the wire into the screw eye in the same manner, always keeping the line as taut as you can.  This wire will stretch some as you go so keep it tight.


Ready to hang!


Janis here for my last guest post!  It's been fun!  Thanks for having me!


  1. Janis, thank you so much for this post! I have a treasured art quilt that was damaged recently, and I was faced with what to do to salvage it. I think this is the answer, and I know I will use your technique for future work as well! Your posts have been very informative and interesting, and I hope to see future ones from you!

  2. that does make a very nice presentation. Thanks for sharing

  3. Thanks so much for this post. I am in a small group fo fiber artists and from time to time someone hangs a canvas like this.


  4. Thank you !
    Always nice to see other people's tricks ;-)

  5. Thanks for the comments! Glad someone appreciated the tips. Of course, there are so many variations of how to do this and whatever works for you is the right way!

  6. Janis, your post will go right into my e-file of great techniques to have on hand! I frame or mount lots of my work, and they will look much better now. Thanks.

  7. EXCELLENT! and a nice art as well!

  8. Hi,

    Thank you for this tutorial. If you make this from plain stretcher bars (no canvas), do you have to use stretcher that are free the the raised lip edge? Basically, do you have to use stretcher bars that are completely flat on the front? Thanks!

  9. No, but I never use the bars without something else to support the artwork so it doesn't end up sagging, so those rounded edges don't really matter. First glue on a piece of foam core board, then place your work over that. However, I do know that some people do stretch their art work right over the bars and it doesn't seem to matter ; after all, the canvas is placed right on the bars.


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