If you're trying to envision how a scroll frame works, it helps to
imagine a long-bearded man reading from a scroll in one of those classic
movies. It really is just the same. Just substitute fabric for papyrus.
When comparing frames, the primary measurement refers to the length
of the dowels, usually ranging from 6" to 22". Read further in the
product description to determine the length of the extenders, commonly
6" and 8".
The only difference between those old scrolls and a cross stitch scroll is that parallel slats hold the rods at a fixed
distance apart. The fabric stretched between the rods keeps your work
area taut for stitching.
A frame keeps your fabric taut as you cross stitch.
a frame keeps a whole piece of fabric taut throughout the entire
stitching process, whereas an embroidery hoop is often smaller and keeps
only a section of your fabric taut, causing you to move it from place
fabric is left attached to the frame until the whole design is stitched
two parallel sides of a wooden frame are
constructed of two flattened strips of wood (often referred to as
extenders or spreaders), with two round scrolling dowels or rods making
up the other sides.
if your fabric is longer than the frame, the fabric can be rolled from side to side as you stitch the design
they vary in the way you attach fabric to the rods
rods may come with a strip of canvas attached, to which you baste your cross stitch fabric
rods may be split, allowing you to slip the edge of your fabric into the vertical slot such as this one, available on Amazon
some kits come with a supply of adhesive strips
of velcro(TM), allowing you to attach one strip to the dowel and one strip
to the fabric (and cut them away from the fabric when finished)
many have knobs at the ends of the rods for advancing the fabric to another area for stitching
sold in a variety of sizes
can be purchased in a multi-pack containing a
couple of sizes of bars/spreaders (the fixed sides) and several sets of
the dowels/scroll rods in varying lengths
are hand-held or can be attached to a variety of stands for hands-free stitching such as the Z Lap Frame with Clamp shown here
keeps fabric taut as you cross stitch
as with hoops, some stitchers feel that frames help maintain consistent stitch tension and appearance
can be attached to floor stands (like the one below), table stands, lap stands, fanny stands and clamp stands
when attached to a stand, it leaves both hands
free, allowing those who use the stab method to keep a hand above and
the other below the fabric, which increases stitching speed
does not leave rings or marks on fabric like hoops can
you can buy kits that allow you to combine individual components, making frames in several different sizes
Things to Consider Before Buying
unless attached to a stand, either one hand must hold the scroll
frame while the other hand stitches, or you must prop up the frame
unless attached to a stand, larger frames are heavy to support after prolonged stitching
because they're larger, frames can be less portable than hoops
stitchers have a wide variety of opinions on
which frame styles hold the fabric tension best; you may have to try a
few to find the rod mechanism you prefer
if you use the adhesive velcro(TM) technique to
attach your project to the rods, plan on cutting off and discarding
these fabric ends when finished
scroll rods or dowels can warp over time
frames are more expensive than hoops
frames are less flexible than hoops, or if you
work on projects in a wide variety of sizes, you may need to buy several
frames or purchase kits that allow you to build frames in several
should loosen the tension whenever not stitching
Scroll frame with Velcro(TM) strips added to both the dowels and the
edges of the cross stitch fabric. Be sure to use enough fabric to allow
for cutting off the strips and discarding them when finished, as the
adhesive residue is difficult (and sometimes damagaing) to remove.
When looking up prices, the size (as in "Oak Scroll Frame, 12")
refers to the length of the dowel (the number of inches between the
The written description may then also include the
size of the extenders. A single 6" scroll frame is around $18 (can be
found on sale for around $13). A 22" frame is about $22.
A frame kit allows you to mix and match extenders
and dowels. One including 6", 12" and 18" scroll rods (with fabric
attached for basting) and 6" and 8" extender bars is $45, seen on sale
for around $32.
Scroll rod pairs can be purchased alone for use with your existing extenders. (Make sure they are compatible.)
Trying out frames is similar to trying out hoops. If you are new to
cross stitch, select two small trial projects. Stitch the first without a
frame or hoop. On the second project, start stitching with a hoop (an
inexpensive way to get the feel for stitching while your fabric is
Halfway through the project, switch to a scroll frame. Either borrow a friend's frame or purchase a small, basic model.
Then, if you prefer having your fabric held, look
online and read product reviews for specific frames. Other stitchers'
experiences can help you decide which models to start with. Nothing,
however, can substitute for personally working with these items.
If you end up with frames you dislike using, you can use them to display your finished projects.
Before investing in several frames, think ahead.
It is likely that you will want to use some sort of stand, so make sure
the frames you buy are compatible with the different stand varieties
available. Also consider portability -- will you do most of your
stitching at home, or will you carry it with you?
Remember to loosen the tension on your project when you are not stitching. This preserves both your stitching and the frame.
You may find that scroll frames are just what you need to make cross
stitch easier and more enjoyable. If it's just a bit "too much," consider trying an embroidery hoop instead. Each has its advantages and true believers. You won't know which one you like, or even if you'll like it, until you try.
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