Choosing the right size tapestry frame

October 9th 2017

Ah, tapestry frames. The ‘Marmite’ topic of the stitching world! If you love them then you will already appreciate the benefits of using one, but if not…well, that’s fine too.

We at Jolly Red are definitely in the ‘love’ camp. Today we have some tips to help you if you’re about to buy your first tapestry frame (for yourself or as a gift for a stitching friend or relative) and don’t know how to go about choosing the correct size for your canvas.

A few reasons to use a frame If you’ve done some tapestry in the past but weren’t totally satisfied with the results, a tapestry frame can help you to keep your tension even. On a practical level, a frame is a great motivator as it keeps your work in place ready for you to pick up the next day. If you like to stitch while watching TV – far more productive than dozing off! – prop your frame up near the TV and it’ll be hard to resist picking it up!

The frames that we stock are clip frames, made in the UK. No sewing is needed to keep your canvas attached to the frame. In the photograph below you can see how the clips hold the top and bottom of the tapestry canvas in place, and the canvas can be rolled up or down if necessary by loosening the sidebars with the nuts and bolts.

Our Elephant starter kit canvas is seen here on a 12″ clip frame, CF129. The internal width of the frame is 12″. The printed area of the Elephant canvas is only 4″ x 4″ but as there’s a lot of canvas around the design (3″ all around), a 12″ frame is a good choice.


Next, we have Pop Art Puppies (design approx. 7.5″ x 7.5″) on one of our smaller 18″ frames, a CF189.  You could squeeze the Puppies onto a 12″ frame (as above with the Elephant design), but we think it feels more comfortable to stitch when there’s a bit of space at the sides of your canvas.


The dinosaurs from our Dinosaurs Sampler are enjoying roaming the few inches of extra space that our larger 18″ frame, CF1812, gives them. The Dinosaur Sampler is 8″ wide x 10″ high. They fit very comfortably onto this frame – which is a good fit for the other designs in this series, Beside the Sea, Farmyard Sampler and Noah’s Ark Sampler.


If you will be stitching designs that aren’t quite as wide as 16″ x 16″, a 21″ frame could be a good idea. Peacock Star (approx. 14″ x 14″) is here on a CF219 frame, the smaller of our two 21″ frames.


If you want to buy a frame that should cover you for most projects that you are likely to stitch (unless you are going to choose very wide designs), then go for a 24″ frame.

As you can see by E for Elephant below, you can put a small design can go onto a large frame. E for Elephant is on a CF249 frame. It’s worth bearing this in mind if you need to switch between projects – perhaps to stitch for a wedding or a new baby’s arrival.


Finally, the largest frame we stock, a CF2412 24″ frame. On this frame, you can see a bit more top to bottom of the design as you stitch compared with a CF249 frame.

CF2412 is shown here with an Arts and Crafts Tiles canvas.


A few tips for using a tapestry frame

*Rest one side of the frame on the arm of your chair or sofa, or rest the front of the frame on a table as you stitch. This gives you the flexibility to use both hands while you work, with one hand pushing the needle up from under the canvas, and the other pulling the needle and thread through to form the stitch.

*Slacken off your canvas if you’ll be leaving it on the frame for a while before going back to it.

*If you’d like to take your tapestry with you so that you can stitch on holiday, unscrew the nuts and bolts, take out the sidebars, and roll up your frame – remembering to pack the sidebars (and your wool)!

If you need any more help or advice about using a tapestry frame or aren’t quite sure which one to buy give us a call on 01460 281111 or email






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Margaret, Cambs.

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