I love fine needlework. In an effort to continually improve my skills, I enjoy taking classes and working on projects. One thing I have learned over the years is to appreciate having the correct supplies and equipment to use when making vestments. Over the years as I have taken courses through various venues such as the Williamsburg School of Needlework, Hand and Lock, or the Royal School of Needlework, I have been introduced to many new pieces of equipment. The new equipment mainly has to deal with how we frame our work before stitching begins.
Small embroidery may be accomplished with a tiny handheld frame. I have used this method frequently. It works. It is usually inexpensive (depending on the frame). One can use an inexpensive frame from a local craft or hobby store that is purchased for a few dollars. The frame may be plastic or wooden. I even remember working on a metal frame that had a tiny spring as a child when first learning how to embroidery. The downfall with most of these types of frames is that they are not designed to hold the fabric “drum” tight. Embroidery is all about tension: the tension of the frame that holds the fabric, tension used with the thread while stitching, and tension of the stitches in the fabric. If any of these are out of sync, the embroidery project will surely show signs of the problem.
As one moves up in the realm of high-quality embroidery with regards to the work they do and the methods they are learning from, one learns about the supplies used by the professionals. Being an age-old craft, hand embroidery still used many of the same tools and supplies that have been used for centuries. At the top of the list are items like slate frames and trestle stands to hold the frames.
Slate frames look a bit formidable when seeing one for the first time. Thoughts zip past the mind such as “how do i use such a thing” and “can I really frame up linen or other fabrics on this?” The answer to those question is YES! It is possible. The best instructions that I have seen to date may be found in the Essential Stitch Guidebooks written by instructors from the Royal School of Needlework. I admit that I did have a great deal of fun dressing my first slate frame.
When a slate frame is put together, it will look somewhat like the above photo with fabric stretched between all four sides. Two sides of the fabric are stitched to the twill tape and two sides are “laced” to the side arms of the frame. The entire frame is stretched until the fabric is “drum” tight. That means it is very tight. When you think your frame is tight, the instructors will tell you to “tighten it some more.”
We stock slate frames in the 12 inch, 18 inch and 24-inch sizes. The size refers to the measurement of the twill tape. We offer a 36 inch and other sizes are custom orders which take about 3 to 5 weeks.
Slate frames can be a little awkward to stitch with, so the best way to use a slate frame is to have a set of trestle stands.
Trestle stands are to embroidery what saw horses are to carpentry. Trestle stands are designed to hold the slate frame so that the embroiderer has both hands free. One hand is above the embroidery and one hand is below.
The trestle stands for embroidery are designed so that the top rail is adjustable. This allows the slate frame to be at a comfortable height while stitching. The frame is also designed to easily dismantle so people doing embroidery work can take the frame with them to and from classes.
Our slate embroidery frames and trestle stands are handmade in Montana by a skilled carpenter. I have worked closely with him to design a product that is both user-friendly and high quality to last for years with proper care. The wood we selected for these frames is a beech wood. It has been finished and sanded smooth to ensure that the threads and fabrics will not catch or snag.
Soli Deo Gloria
Filed under: Ecclesiastical Sewing, Slate frame, Trestle stands Tagged: Ecclesiastical Sewing, slate embroidery frames, trestle stands for embroidery