Custom Made Slate Frames and Trestle Stands for Hand Embroidery

There is something so relaxing and enjoyable about doing hand embroidery. Having the correct tools to tackle a project properly makes the process that much better. Having a beautiful view to enjoy while stitching doesn’t hurt, either. How I wish we had such a view outside the studios of Ecclesiastical Sewing. Sadly, we don’t.

The above photo was shared by one of the nicest embroiderer’s I have had the pleasure of meeting. To top it all off, she lives close to me. She contacted me earlier this fall to ask about trestle stands and slate frames. She also mentioned the embroidery project she was working on and I knew I had to speak with her!

Slate frames Embroidery Trestle stands

The project she wanted to undertake was the Glasgow Bedspread Kit from the Crewelwork Company. Crewel embroidery is worked with wool threads. I worked my first crewel embroidery when I was about 13 years old and I have been a fan of this ever since. Jacobean Embroidery is a style of crewel embroidery that was popular during the reign of King James I of England in the early 1600’s. The embroidery is characterized by the use of stylized plants, vines, flower, and animal designs that were used for home furnishings such as bedhangings, spreads, and other household items. The beauty of this art form is that it stitches “fast” when compared to silk painting because the wool yards are bulkier and cover the space more quickly. Yet, all hand embroidery is a labor of love that takes time to create.

Once the project for the Glasgow embroidery project was explained, the question was asked, “Could a slate frame be made in a size that would fit the project and would it work to embroider the project on a slate frame?” We talked over the pros and cons of using a slate frame. One of the biggest advantages of using a slate frame for this type of project is that it keeps the linen fabric neat and tidy during the embroidery process. With a small hoop, one has to reposition hundreds of times during stitching and the linen twill would wrinkle.  Placing the linen on a slate frame would minimize that wrinkle problem.

The cons were how does one place the linen on the frame and roll and reposition? But that issue was soon resolved and turned into a pro. The slate frame is designed to allow extra fabric to be rolled up on one end and as stitching progresses, the laces are loosened, the fabric is rotated, the laces are restrung, and stitching commences. The same tension can be used on the entire piece.

Trestle stands hand embroidery frames

Another pro is that any areas that are not currently being worked on can be covered with tissue or muslin and kept free from soiling. It also allows a larger area to be visible at one time so that it becomes easier to keep track of stitches and where one is in the project. It becomes easier to make sure stitch tension is consistent between matching elements.

The next question that came up during the conversation is whether the slate frame would be sturdy enough to withstand the tension it would be placed under with such a large piece of embroidery. One only needs to look at the frame and see how sturdy they have been made. The Slate frame is made from beech wood. It is solid and strong. The pieces are also thick enough that, with proper storage while they are not in use, the frames should last a lifetime.

Slate Frame for Crewel Embroidery

Once the frame arrived, the purchaser said, “It is made like a nice piece of furniture!” The frames are sturdy. The carpenter who makes these uses nice materials and his craftsmanship is excellent. He takes care in creating these pieces so they will last a lifetime. The comment I hear most often when I am doing needlework at various places is that the wood is sanded to a satin-smooth finish.

One last dilemma to resolve is how does one stitch with such a large frame? The answer is to use a matching set of trestle stands. The trestle stands are also made from beech wood. They are sturdy and solid. The bars easily adjust to different heights. In the above photos, the stitcher has the bars set so that the slate frame is positioned at a slant. For her, this works perfectly. Other stitchers might prefer to have the frame lie flat on the trestle stand bars, and that also works.

I did have the fun of helping dress the above slate frame. To find someone who lives close to me and someone who shares a love for hand embroidery is a treat and I didn’t want to miss this opportunity. I do take short breaks from the Ecclesiastical Sewing Studios to attend Royal School of Needlework Classes. Each module begins with dressing a slate frame. It is something that I find enjoyable and dressing one this large was a very special treat. For those who might be interested to know, it took two of us about 3 hours to 4 hours to dress this frame. It worked out very well and as one can see, it is already being put to great use!

The slate frames are listed online in specific sizes, but custom sizes are also available. Just email us through the Contact page on our Ecclesiastical Sewing website to find out more about specific size needs for slate frames to make big hand embroidery projects manageable.

I would like to thank my new embroidery friend for being so gracious in allowing me to share her photos and her story. I hope that others may learn about the slate frames to make their large embroidery project easier to undertake.

Soli Deo Gloria

If you are interested in purchasing a larger slate frame or wooden trestle stands for your embroidery project please visit our website




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