To Frame or not to Frame

I’ve noticed a rush to stretch quilts around stretcher bars/frames of late and am seeing a good many of these go up for sale on Not all pieces are meant to be stretched, maybe it needs to be matted and framed, maybe the piece needs a shadow box, or MAYBE it actually needs a sleeve sewn to the back and hung on the wall like a traditional wall quilt.

What I am noticing is a bunch of quilts that have been stretched and it does more to detract from the piece than it does to help it. I remember my screenprinting professor, Tim McIllrath, coming unhinged at one student who stretched what “was” a lovely hand stitched screen printed piece, unfortunately it distorted the stitching – which is something I’m seeing in a lot of pieces, and when the student removed it from the frame the damage had been done and was fairly permanent.

When deciding how to finish a piece one must really step back from their baby and ask themselves does this piece stand on it’s own merits with or without a border/matt? How will stretching this piece affect/effect the stitching, pattern, piecing, embellishments, etc?

There is no easy answer to this dilemma expect to experiment with scraps, stitching techniques etc. this will give you your answer. It is, however, very disconcerting to see what would otherwise be a gorgeous piece stretched around stretcher bars and I suspect the artist doing so believes that the pieces will sell better in doing so – and this couldn’t be further from the truth especially if you are looking for collectors for your works.

Also sometimes a piece simply needs a large plexi frame, this would include the sides, expensive yes but your beloved creation may find a home much sooner in doing so.