I wanted a simple frame to display a small quilt I made. Even though I have little-to-no carpentry skills, it seemed like something I could make myself instead of spending $90+ on a custom frame on Etsy. It worked! I had most of the supplies on hand and only spent about $12, and buying everything new would probably be closer to $40. That’s still significantly cheaper than any custom-sized quilt frame I’ve found. Here’s how I did it. (You may want to read the notes at the bottom before you begin.)
I built this about a week ago, and so far it’s holding together just fine. But if it collapses in the middle of the night, I’ll make sure to update this post!
Supplies I used:
- 4 pieces of wooden moulding (see step 2) (from Home Depot)
- Super glue
- Sanding sponge (I found at Home Depot – you can also use sandpaper, if you have it)
- Tape measure
- Small round magnets (I’ve only found on, eek, Amazon. Mine were 10mm x 3mm. You want something small but mighty)
- Leather cord (I think from Joann—I had it from making masks)
(1) Measure the length of the quilt (left to right). Then, add about one inch to that length, depending on how far you want the frame to extend past the edges of the quilt. (So, my quilt was 39″, plus one inch equals 40″ total.)
(2) Go to Home Depot and find the “Moulding” department. Moulding is wood that’s been precut (and sometimes shaped/painted) for things like ceilings and other home projects. But—just between us—it’s also the perfect size and shape for making a quilt frame.
(3) Find moulding you like. I used unfinished pine (1.25″ x 0.25″) because I like the simple style and have other unfinished pine furniture in my apartment. Just make sure that your moulding has one flat surface (the side that will be pressed against the quilt).
(4) ***Be careful here!*** You want four pieces of moulding, each the same length that you measured in step 1. So, I needed four pieces, each 40″ long. My store had a little station where you could use a handsaw to cut pieces exactly the length you wanted. If you’re not comfortable using a handsaw/measuring, I’m told the employees will also cut it for you.
(5) Back at home: Use the sanding sponge to smooth the rough edges of the moulding. (If you’ve never sanded wood before: Definitely do it outside to avoid the sawdust mess. You’ll notice the sponge has some surfaces that are courser than others. First sand with the coarse sides, then finish off by using the finer sides.) Now you have your four frame pieces.
(6) Lay out some newspaper or a cardboard box, because it’s time for super glue. What we’re doing next is attaching magnets to the frame pieces so that they can hold the quilt in place without damaging it. Essentially your quilt will be pinched between two frame pieces on top and two frame pieces on bottom, and each pair will be held together via magnets. The method I describe below doesn’t require much measuring/precision but is a little hard to explain. Just keep in mind what the finished project should look like. We’ll do this one pair at a time.
(7) Use the tape measure to find the approximate middle of one of the frame pieces. (This part doesn’t need to be too precise.) Take two round magnets (magnetized to each other). Add a big dollop of super glue to the middle of the frame piece, and then stick the pair of magnets to it. (In other words, the glue will only adhere to the bottom magnet. But this makes it easier to line everything up correctly in the next few steps.)
(8) Do this with a few more pairs of magnets spread evenly across the frame piece. I found that for my quilt (39″ across), five magnets across was sufficient. Three was definitely not enough to hold up the weight.
(9) The next step is tricky to explain but is easy to do. At this point you should have one frame piece with five or more pairs of magnets glued across it. Lay out a second frame piece right next to it. On the first frame piece, add a dollop of super glue to the top piece of each magnet pair. Then, pick up the entire piece, flip it over, and press the gluey magnets onto the second frame piece to adhere them. Do your best to line up the ends so that the two pieces of the frame are aligned, and then gently press them together for 20-30 seconds so all the glue adheres. Be careful here—if you press too hard on one side (or if you press only on the outside edges), you might accidentally separate some of the glue elsewhere. So just gently/slowly roll your hands across the top so all five (or more) magnets are glued in place. The reason we flip the first piece over onto the second is so that if there’s any excess glue, it won’t drip down and seal the magnets together.
(10) Now the two frame pieces should be held together by the magnets, which are attached to the wood by super glue. Leave this to dry for a while. Then, you should be able to pull them apart gently. If any of the magnet pieces come unstuck/unglued, wipe off the excess glue and repeat the gluing step. (The reason we glued things together in this order is that it insures the small magnets line up perfectly, rather than gluing them all separately with measuring tape and hoping they line up.)
(11) Repeat steps 7-10 for the second pair of frame pieces. Now you should have one pair for the top edge of the quilt, and another pair for the bottom edge.
(12) Add the frame to your quilt using the magnets. Remember: The quilt itself will be pinched between the frame pieces. Try holding the entire wall hanging (quilt+frame) by only one of the top pieces of frame to be sure it all holds together.
(13) Next we’ll attach leather cord to one piece of frame (the top-back piece) so that we can hang the entire wall hanging from a nail/hook. Separate the top pieces of frame from each other. Take the back piece (of the top pair), and grab the leather cord. Wrap the cord around the frame (in between magnets) about 6-12″ from the left edge, and tie a knot. (See step 14 for positioning.) Then unspool more cord and reach for the other side. Wrap the cord around the frame again, about 6-12″ from the right edge, and tie a second knot. Ultimately what you want is just enough slack that the wall hanging can hang casually from a nail/hook. (See photo at the top of the post.) You can experiment a bit with this to get the length you want.
(14) Position the cord so that the knot is on the bottom of the piece of frame and the cord comes out between the frame and the quilt. See the picture below. (You’re looking at the back of the frame, from the top. Ignore the long piece of slack. Notice how the piece of cord coming out on the right side of the photo comes between the frame and the quilt. That’s the piece that stretches up to the nail/hook.) This helps the frame hang flush against the wall rather than leaning forward.
(15) Add your nail/hook to the wall, gently hang your leather cord from it, and you’re done!
- You could get much fancier using some wood stain and varnish to achieve other colors/styles for the frame. Home Depot also has a huge variety of options for moulding. Do this in between steps 5 and 6.
- If the binding of your quilt is significantly thicker than the rest of your quilt, then you may want to glue the magnets closer to the bottom of the frame pieces. That way the magnets can pinch the quilt itself (rather than the binding), and the binding itself will fit between the two frame pieces. (So, for example, if your binding is 0.5″ wide, you would want to glue the magnets more than 0.5″ from the edge of the frame to leave enough room for the binding.)
- You could also hang the frame from the wall using other means, like screws. I wanted to use leather cord for the aesthetic and the ease of hanging it.
- I can’t overstate how easy this project was for me to do. I come from a family of woodworkers, but I have almost no woodworking skill (and mostly have not enjoyed the little experience I do have—I just can’t relax with a hobby that involves dangerous power tools). As long as you can sand the edges and glue the magnets to the wood, you’ll be just fine. Take your time with the gluing—that’s the step that ultimately holds everything together.
- Err on the side of too many magnets, since they’re not visible anyway. For my first attempt I only used three magnets across, and when I held up the wall hanging, it collapsed. Five on top and five on bottom seems to be sufficient, but honestly I may go back and add more, just to feel even more confident.