“How do I hang this?” Without a doubt, this is one of the most frequently asked questions we hear. Displaying textiles on your walls allows you to be surrounded by exquisite artisan beauty at all times. But by the very nature of this art being constructed of fiber, there are inherent characteristics requiring specific ways to mount and display textiles in order to preserve them.
So what are some of the considerations for displaying a textile? Do you want it framed on a background cloth, hung on a decorative hanger, or mounted so just the piece shows? Each of these requires a different preparation. A proper mount needs to account for any weakness in the cloth, be aesthetically compatible with the work, and the mount constructed of materials that aren’t harmful to the cloth such as adhesive tapes, nails, or tacks. Your home is not a museum (although it may be your personal one) so while the display standards don’t have to be on par with one, you can still take adequate care all the same.
Let’s go through the steps for mounting a textile that can support its own weight using a wall mount and Velcro fastener.
THE MATERIALS YOU’LL NEED ON HAND ARE:
- Washed twill tape, a measuring tape, pins, scissors
- Sewing thread to match the color of the piece, preferably cotton but polyester can work on non-fine cloth
- A sharp sewing needle that can easily penetrate the cloth where the threads intersect
- A Velcro strip about ½” short of the width of the piece (twill tape and Velcro come in various widths so get one at least 1”. If your textile is large, you’ll want some that is wider and stronger.)
- A wood slat about ½’ short of the width of the piece
- Staples, hammer, and nails
Cut the twill tape about 1/4” short of the width of the piece on each edge. Pin the soft looped side of the Velcro to the twill tape. Sew the Velcro to the twill tape using small running stitches or by machine stitching.
Next, pin the tape to your textile along the top edge leaving about ¼” at the top and sides. The textile we’re mounting (below) has an attached border so the twill fits right to the edge of the border. Again, using a running stitch with a backstitch every 3 to 4 stitches, attach the tape to the textile. Make sure you are adequately stitching into the piece but not forming large stitches on the front side of the piece. Peruvian textiles are warp-faced so there are more than adequate threads to secure the piece to the tape.
Take the hooked side of the Velcro and attach it to the wooden slat using staples. Measure your wall space and secure the slat on the wall with nails using enough in relation to the weight of the piece. I place artwork so that it’s centered at 60”, a good viewing height.
Now attach the textile to the fixed slat, adjusting the Velcro across the slat to keep your piece horizontal. Since many textiles are not perfectly rectangular, you may have to position one side slightly higher (or lower) than the other. That’s why this mounting technique works well for many pieces.
At left you can see the finished Peruvian manta from Pitumarca, one of the weaving communities of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco. This type of mounting works perfectly for most textiles. Try it on one you’ve had tucked away in a drawer. You’ll want more to adorn your surroundings in no time.
Lead image: some of the supplies you’ll need to hang your textile
Marilyn Murphy is President of ATA and managing partner of ClothRoads.com, an online marketplace and blog devoted to global textiles. An ATA board member since 2013, she co-curated the exhibition, “Weaving Lives: Transforming Textile Traditions in the Peruvian Highlands,” at Colorado State University’s Avenir Museum. Previously Marilyn was yarn group president and editorial director for Interweave Press. She also owned the Weaving Workshop in Chicago and founded the Textile Arts Centre there.