I don’t make pillows. I don’t make quilts. I don’t make patches (though I one day hope to). One thing I do like to do with my embroidery is hoop it up in wooden hoops wrapped in ribbons.
I find that this preserves the look of the embroidery as a craft, while classing it up just enough to make it art too. I use cheap wooden hoops from craft shops, which I would never actually use to work an embroidered piece with. They don’t keep tension properly and I’m terrified that the wood will leave splinters in my work. These fears are probably unfounded, but I love my bright plastic hoops better anyway. What I do love about the wooden hoops is the metal tabs and screws at the top. They look rustic and country and I adore them.
Here is the very simple way I hoop up my work:
1. Put your work into the wooden hoops, framing it up like you want it and tighten the outter ring on as tight as you can. Using a long lenght of embroidery floss (usually 2-3 strands), start to gather the extra fabric behind your work. This step is usually super messy for me. I really don’t care what the back of the work looks like, and never is it more clear than when I bring everything together in a tangled, layered mess at the back. When the front looks taut and tight, and there is no more fabric showing from the front of the work, I’m done.
2. I then remove the outer hoop and make sure everything is stil nice. I remove the screw completely and pull out my friend, Loctite Super Glue. This glue comes out in a nice slow gel, which means you not only get to control exactly where you put it, it stays exactly where you want it and doesn’t run and bleed to the front of the work. Keeping the ribbon on the spool, I glue a bit to the top of the hoop, on one side of the metal tab. I don’t feel the need to hide the wood and metal completely. Like I said, I like the country look this gives my pieces.
3. I start to wrap the ribbon around the hoop at a slight angle, making sure to pull really tight as I wrap. Every 6-7 wraps, I put a drop of super glue on the inside of the hoop, right next to the last wrap. The glue stays in place while I pull another wrap tight, squishing the glue and tacking down the last half-dozen wraps. I use either the plastic container the glue comes in or a piece of scrap plastic bag to push the glue down for a few seconds. This stuff will glue your fingers to your work if you touch it with your bare hands. Please be careful! The advantage of using superglue is that it dries super quickly, nearly clear and allows you to keep an even tension on all the wraps. I have never had any hooped up piece of work suddenly fall apart.
4. Put your work back into the hoop and put the screw back in. You’ll find that, because of the added layers of ribbon, you won’t get the screw as tight. If the screw ends up at the top of the piece (most round ones do), I sometimes add another lenght of ribbon on the screw with a simple knot so it can be hung from it. If it lands elsewhere, as with the oval piece in my last post, I just leave it bare and the piece can be hung from the rim of the hoop without too much bother.
Tada! I love the fabric framing the fabric, the matte fabric and the glossy ribbon, and the great colour it adds to already colourful pieces. It’s an easy, cheap way to class up your embroidery and although it can be time consumming, it’s nice to have something “framed” that you can give away that you did all yourself.