An Antique Standing Frame and Protecting Your Embroidery

In the 1940’s, I inherited an antique embroidery frame. Probably made in the late 1700’s, the roller bars are 36″ long and the vertical posts are 32″ high. The frame will pivot on the hinge at the top of the vertical posts allowing the frame to be tilted to a comfortable angle for stitching. The fabric to be embroidered is stitched to the edge of the tape on the roller bars and then lashed to the side bars with string in the same manner as setting up a slate frame. Although I have not used it very much, it has been used extensively in the past. This is evident as this is the third tape replacement. It was used to stitch English Country Garden and, currently, to assemble Creative use of Stitches.

Antique Standing Frame
Antique Standing Frame

When embroidering on fabric mounted on a standing frame, a slate frame on trestles or using a stretcher bar frame supported by the edge of table, the following procedure is recommended to keep your embroidery both clean and undamaged during stitching. This is how the professionals do it.

First, place clean white cotton fabric on the surface of your fabric for embroidery and roll both of them together around the roller bars. If your piece of embroidery is too wide for you to be able to reach the centre comfortably while stitching, this is how it is narrowed enough for it to be functional. You will have deduced that an unstitched section is rolled onto the rollers initially and that later, the completed part is rolled onto the other roller exposing the unstitched section. The completed portion in particular needs this protection.

While actually stitching on embroidery mounted on a standing frame, a slate frame or a stretcher bar frame, I always protect both fabric and completed stitching in the following manner. Place one or more pieces of clean white or pastel coloured cotton or pillow cases over the fabric on the frame.

Protecting Your Stitching
Protecting Your Stitching

And here are the reasons:

Protection from you
1) Protects your completed area of your embroidery
2) Prevents any wear from your arm resting on the embroidery
3) Prevents thread snags from buttons, a watch strap, rings or bracelets
4) Prevents any grease or oil from your skin getting onto the embroidery

Convenience for you
5) Provides a convenient place upon which to keep threads and stitching equipment
6) Helps to locate needed items which tend to get lost on the stitched surface
7) Ability to lift the cover with threads and tools off easily thus keeping them together
8) Covers completed work allowing you to focus on the section you are working on
9) The cotton surface feels cool and comfortable under your forearm

Protection from others
10) Keeps pets off your work
11) Prevents others from touching unless you are there showing it to them
When not stitching
12) Cover the whole setup with a large piece of clean cloth or a towel
13) When you return, nothing will have been disturbed
14) If you are away from your work for a period of time, it is a dust excluder
15) Habit

Protecting When Not Stitching
Protecting When Not Stitching

The frame is light and I can hook my foot under the base bar and move it right or left thus repositioning the stitching for easy access. Or, when necessary, I can sit at the end of the frame. I use a height adjustable office chair with good back support.

There is a delay in researching and writing about the student experience at RSN. RSN is trying to find for me some specific 1951 press photos and this may take some time. The story will continue as soon as possible.

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  1. Reply

    Ann, this is a lovely frame, thank you for all the info, it’s most helpful. Kind Regards Mandy Currie (

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