Case Studies

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Sunday, 12 May 2013 13:03

Straightening out-of-square tapestries and embroideries

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We frame quite a few pieces of textile work such as embroideries, tapestries, counted cross stitch and needlepoint to name a few of the most popular items. It is an area of picture framing that we particularly enjoy working with as we have such a lot of very talented embroiderers as customers at the Petersfield Framing Studios. You can also see a page dedicated to how we lace embroideries or tapestries over acid free board to ensure the work is both preserved and easily reversible. The vast majority of the embroideries or tapestries that we frame need to be stretched over a suitable acid free board. Quite often the textile work is stitched over a purpose-made stretcher by the customer which helps to keep the material square whilst the embroidery or tapestry image is being created. However this isn't always the case as even embroderies that have used a stretcher bar are still out of square when they come into our workshop. The most extreme cases tend to be work on tapestry canvas as the stitches tend to be all pointing in one way that leads to a natural parallelogram effect. Here are some examples of some out of square tapestries and embroideries that have come into the workshop recently.

These can be straightened with a steam iron but you need to be very careful and also very patient as the process can be very time consuming. Alternatively we use a machine designded for the purpose. The machine looks a little like a medieval torture device (this could well have been where the idea came from!) and is based on a rack system which can be slowly enlarged by tightening the screw at the top of the photo to gently straighten the tapestry or embroidery.

 The work on textile is attached to a row of metal points on one row of the stretching machine.

Then the tapestry is carefully linied up with the corresponding metal point on the other side of the rack.

Once this is achieved the screw can be slowly turned to add tension to the rack to straighten the tapestry. The back of the tapestry can be steamed or wettened slighlty to ease the stitchwork but care must be taken that all the threads are colourfast and that any water added to the image will not make the colour run on the stitches.

This is the end result for the tapestry above.

Here is the embroidery after using the tapestry straightening machine.

Now the embroidery or tapestry can be easily laced and stretched over the acid free board and is then ready for framing.