Needlepoint Frames, Stretcher Bars
A needlepoint frame helps keep your needlepoint straight. Because it stretches the needlepoint, it is easier to stitch and allows you to use a stand to hold it.
Stretcher bars are outstanding and inexpensive needlepoint tools for keeping your stitching tight and undistorted. There are three main types of stretcher bars.
Standard Bars are available from many manufacturers and are about 1” wide. They are made of wood and come in many sizes from 4” to over 30”, in 1” increments. They come two bars per package.
Mini Stretcher Bars are also made by several manufacturers. They also come in different sizes, but are only about 1/2” in width. This makes them lighter and many stitchers prefer them. Do not use them if you are doing work which will be rough on the stitching.
Evertite Bars are only made by one company and are considerably more expensive then other stretcher bars. They have an ingenious (and patented) method for changing the tension so that the needlepoint stays tight.
Why is this important? As you stitch needlepoint, the sizing in the canvas relaxes and it moves up and down as you stitch. For the best results, needlepoint canvas should always be tight. With Evertites there are little screws which you adjust with a special tool to make the frame expand slightly at the corners, so that the canvas stays tight.
How do I assemble stretcher bars into a needlepoint frame?
Begin by measuring your canvas and buying stretcher bars the closest length to the dimensions. If your canvas is slightly larger than the nearest inch, don’t worry about it. By taping the edges of the canvas, you shouldn’t have problems with threads catching.
If it is slightly smaller, try using standard bars, their wider width often takes care of this. If it will not, see the section below for ways to enlarge the canvas for mounting.
Most stretcher bars have interlocking ends which fit together easily.
Begin by taking one bar from each of your pairs. Interlock the ends so that they make a joint with flat edges on each side.
Push the bars together to form a corner. Sometimes this is easy, sometimes hard. If it is hard, either wiggle the bars to make them fit, or hammer them so that they come together in a tight corner with flat edges.
Take a third bar and put it onto the opposite end from the other side of the same length. Fit the corners together.
Repeat the process for the fourth bar.
With luck, your assembled needlepoint frame is square. you can move them slightly to put them in place. I do this by checking each corner on a door or window frame.
How do I make my canvas fit the needlepoint frame?
If your piece of canvas is too small for even the smallest size of bars, then the best thing to do is to stitch scraps of fabric around the edges (don’t bother to miter the corners) with a basting stitch on a sewing machine. Then stretch the new fabric over the needlepoint frame. This method also works when you have a piece with margins which are too narrow.