Needlepoint Without A Frame

Can you needlepoint without using a frame? We outline the pros and cons of hand needlepoint vs. using a frame so that you can make the right choice for your style.

Stitching Mod Flowers needlepoint kit without a frame

Stitching the Mod Flowers needlepoint kit without using a frame.

Reasons to Needlepoint Without A Frame/Hand Needlepoint

1. You love the feel of holding the fabric and threads in your hands.

When you stitch with your needlework in-hand, you get to handle the lovely fibers and manipulate the stitched fabric as it comes to life. And, let's face it, this lovely tactile experience is why we enjoy this craft so much. So, it's perfectly OK to want to get up close and personal with your stitching and hold it in hand while you stitch, and you may well decide that this experience out-weighs the advantages of using a frame.

2. You are traveling and want a smaller project to carry.

Frames can be bulky, especially if you are working on a large project. So, if you're planning to travel, or you just want a project you can take with you to be a spectator at sports games, or while waiting for an appointment—something you can throw in your purse—you might want a project that isn't mounted on a frame. Perfect!

3. Some stitches require the canvas to be held in-hand.

Stitches like the Victorian Cross Stitch, and other darning stitches, need a canvas that is malleable so you can bend it to let the needle go through in a darning fashion. For these stitches and techniques, you need to hold the canvas in-hand.

Victorian Cross Stitch being stitched without a frame

This Fruit Victorian Cross Stitch needlepoint kit can only be
stitched in hand because of the darning technique it uses.

Reasons to Use A Needlepoint Frame

1. It will prevent most of the distortion of your canvas.

When you place stitches on a needlepoint the canvas is tugged in different directions which inevitably changes its shape. Depending upon the stitch or stitches you use, your canvas starts out square and it will end up as a parallelogram. If you tack your canvas to a frame while you stitch it, the frame holds the canvas taut and prevents most of this distortion. So, when you go to frame or otherwise finish your stitched canvas you won't spend nearly as long blocking it back into shape.

Born To Be Wild needlepoint kit on a frame

This Born To Be Wild needlepoint was stitched on a frame
because of all the decorative stitches it used.

2. A frame keeps your canvas clean.

If you're not holding your needlepoint canvas in-hand while you stitch it the oils and moisturizers on your hands are less likely to transfer to the canvas, keeping it cleaner and the stitches more congruent because they are not being scrunched.

3. A frame allows for neater stitches, especially decorative needlepoint stitches.

With your needlepoint canvas on a frame you have a nice taut work surface which allows neater and more even stitches. It's also easier to count stitches and keep your work smooth.

The best needlepoint stitchers tend to use frames, but this does not mean that frames are essential. Ultimately, the choice is yours, and although needlepoint purists might tell you to always use a frame, we say "you do you". This is your needlework and your relaxation time. Here, at Poppy Monk needlepoint, we do a lot of hand needlepoint stitching and a fair amount of stitching on a frame, depending upon how the mood takes us. And that's how we like it!

Killing It needlepoint kit on a frame

Killing It needlepoint kit stitched on a frame.

Let us know if you have any questions about whether to use a needlepoint frame, or anything else stitching-related. We are always happy to help.

If you want to get started on a small needlepoint project that you can stitch on a frame, or stitch in-hand, then you can't go past the fine collection of needlepoint kits at Poppy Monk. Shipping is free, and if you sign up for our weekly newsletter you will get $10 to spend on your first purchase. The email sign up is at the bottom of the page.

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