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What is a Needlepoint Frame?

N. Freim
N. Freim

Since needlepoint involves going up and down through fabric, many embroiderers use a frame to keep the fabric tight. One popular style of needlepoint frame for small works is the hoop, which braces the material between two circles of wood. The inner circle of the frame can be bound with bias tape to keep the fabric more secure. The other popular frame, the scroll, rolls the fabric across a frame and works well for large designs. Some embroiderers find frames quite useful because the tension on the fabric keeps the stitches more even.

To support the fabric during embroidery, a needlepoint frame is often used to keep the fabric taut. There are two main styles of frames: the hoop and the scroll. Both come in a variety of sizes and can be mounted on a stand to free up both hands for stitches like decorative knots.

A needlepoint frame can ensure the canvas stays taut.
A needlepoint frame can ensure the canvas stays taut.

The hoop needlepoint frame consists of two loops of a light wood like balsa. The inner ring is solid, and the outer ring has a screw fastener. Once the fabric is on the solid piece, the outer piece goes around the edge and is tightened down until the material is pulled tight and firmly fixed. Generally, a hoop large enough for the whole design should be used. Moving the fabric is possible, but placing a part already embroidered in between the pieces of wood can flatten and mar the stitches.

A hoop is a type of needlepoint frame.
A hoop is a type of needlepoint frame.

When using a hoop frame, some embroiderers recommend binding the hoop with cotton tape or bias binding. Only the inner ring needs to be covered. This covering helps the frame grip the needlepoint fabric more tightly and prevent any accidental slippage.

The other popular style of needlepoint frame is the scroll style. With this, either end of the fabric to be embroidered is inserted into slits on dowel rods with the extra fabric rolled around the dowels. These rods are held in place by additional wooden braces, forming a frame. The dowels may be turned to expose more fabric. This rolling of the fabric causes less damage to the design than being crushed inside the hoop and works well for large pieces.

Using a frame is largely a matter of personal choice. Some embroiderers find frames cumbersome. The main advantage of a needlepoint frame is to keep the fabric smooth and taut. This tension produces a more even design, as the material does not shift as much with each individual stitch and the thread tension is then easier to control. Most needlepoint crafters who try using a frame are convinced by the uniformity of stitches produced.

Discussion Comments


Actually, hoops are never used on needlepoint, only on embroidery or possibly counted cross stitch. To stitch needlepoint only frames or scroll frames are used.

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    • A needlepoint frame can ensure the canvas stays taut.
      By: Steven Latour
      A needlepoint frame can ensure the canvas stays taut.
    • A hoop is a type of needlepoint frame.
      By: Louella Folsom
      A hoop is a type of needlepoint frame.