I managed to back my latest crochet portrait on the weekend, and thought I’d share how I did it.
I wanted to build a back with a ‘bare’ frame around the outside, which wouldn’t show but which would cause the picture to hang flat, square (in terms of 90 degree angles – it is a rectangular picture) and stretched. I also wanted it to allow for cleaning and storage. I think I’ve accomplished all of what I wanted!
Materials used : unbleached muslin (for backing) – prewash in HOT and machine dry, to preshrink the fabric – pressed
lengths of dowel – 1/2″ diameter is what I used for the side(s) and bottom dowels
– something a little heavier and longer than the picture for the top dowel – mine was 7/8″ approx.
sewing machine and thread
sewing pins (quilting pins work well since they are longer)
iron/ironing board to press backing fabric nice and flat before cutting.
Ok, now – how to do it!
I measured my picture – it is 22 x 25″ (approximately – I round up if it’s in between inches because there is room in this picture for a little stretch and I want it to be pulled tightly.
I then cut a piece of muslin, leaving 1″ seam allowances all the way around. In my case I cut 24″ x 27″. Press the seam allowance down towards the ‘back’ of the backing, all the way around. I then folded out the corners, trimmed them and folded them back in as mitred corners.
I then (because I’m a little bit overly careful) pinned it to the portrait, just to see how it would work. This is just a ‘check’ and will be immediately unpinned to begin constructing the frame.
You can see that the backing appears bigger than the picture. That’s the ’round up’ factor and will be fine in the end. To pin, have someone help you if possible and, while holding the two edges, ease the fit by stretching the portrait evenly as you pin — begin pinning on the corners, then the centre (of whichever edge you are working) and then between pins. This will spread the ‘extra’ out evenly to prevent distortion or lack of squareness.
Now, unpin your backing from the portrait and set the portrait aside. Cut 4 strips (for dowel holders to create our frame) from the muslin about 4″ wide (less if you’re comfortable) and about the same length as the top, bottom, and the sides. Depending on your dimensions these may or may not be the same length.
I began with the sides. Turn under a narrow hem and use your machine to sew this down (it will be a problem in time if it’s just pressed down) on one end of each piece of muslin for the side dowels. Be sure, for each side, that when the piece is folded (with the turned down seam at the top) that the fold is toward the outside of the backing, and the raw edges are toward the inside of the backing. The bottom end of each of these will be a closed end (at the bottom edge of the side dowels – to prevent the dowel simply falling out!) You should press under a bit at the bottom (approx 1/2″) and this fold will be to the inside of the dowel sleeve and also stitched down to create the closed end of the sleeve (later).
Wow, I hope that made some sense!
Next, I place, fold and pin the sleeves at the side, ONE AT A TIME, with the dowels inside them (for a close fit) and sew them using the zipper foot on my machine. This worked great for the 1/2″ dowel but not with the larger dowel (unfortunately). I checked the amount of space needed on top (for the larger dowel to fit behind the backing) and bottom, marked these with pencil and measured to mark them identically on the other side. You can see the larger space left on top compared to the bottom in the following pictures. Near the bottom of the backing, at the bottom edges of the side sleeves, you will need to pull the dowel out at least a little (or all the way if you like) to sew across the bottom of the sleeve to create the ‘stop’.
A picture of the top of the side sleeve;
The bottom (with the dowel removed) of the side sleeve;
Once done the sleeve, pull out the dowel and trim the underneath piece of the raw edge to 1/2 the width of the top piece. Use the top raw edge to fold around the bottom piece and press and sew in place. Make sure, as more sleeves are added, that you don’t catch a sleeve in this seam treatment. Treat all of the sleeve raw edges like this – it is strong and neat/tidy looking.
After completing the side sleeves, create the bottom sleeve in a similar way but WITHOUT any ‘stop’ or closed section. If you sew it with the zipper foot, snug against the dowel, you shouldn’t have any trouble with it coming out unless you want it removed to wash or store the portrait. Don’t forget to do your seam treatment to eliminate raw edges.
Now the top dowel sleeve – This is created the same way but with a wider dowel. You may wish to prepare the sleeve (narrow hem on each end) and then pin it tightly as we did before and then use a pencil to mark that crease/seamline – pull out the dowel and then sew along the line with a basting stitch (longer machine stitch), check the fit and then secure with shorter stitching once you have it right. I did not do this and ended up going a little tight in spots and having to rip parts of my seam out and redo it.
Cut your dowels, if you haven’t done so already – a tiny bit bigger than their sleeves (the three smaller ones) and the larger should be long enough to extend and work as a hanger with the correct hardware or hooks of some sort.
To attach the portrait to the frame, remove all dowels and set aside. Pin the portrait to the back, stretching and pinning evenly as described above. I sewed it with my machine, regular foot – using tissue paper between the portrait and the feed, to prevent it beign sucked into the machine and RUINED. (My machine and I have trust issues) I sewed it with about a 1/4 – 1/2″ seam, making sure the crochet extends a TAD bit more than the backing and going slowly to prevent catching any of the sleeves!!
Insert your dowels – sides, bottom then finally top – and VOILA
It’s a wallhanging!
With the added advantage of being easily taken apart for washing or storage!!