Anna Hergert, Art & Design

Options for Finishing Textile Art?

Time to answer another question from the March 31st comment section:

Donna Fay posted this: I would find it most helpful to get in-depth info on finishing details such as binding, hanging and mounting art quilts of various sizes.

Thank you for the question, Donna Fay. In addition to my initial response posted below your original comment I have gathered some images to elaborate on the topic.

Finishing and hanging must be integral to the art piece. It is as important as the actual work and careful finishing contributes to the overall strength of the work. It is a personal pet peeve of mine when I see eye catching and strong designs executed in textile and fabric art that has been poorly finished. I have been approached time and again by colleagues asking why their work was rejected by a curator or gallery – public and/or commercial. For that reason I have taken the time today to elaborate on Donna Fay’s question.

As always, I am going to write based on my own experience. When it comes to finishing I evaluate each piece individually, no matter what size. My primary objective for each fiber art piece is to hang and display the way it was intended: straight and the hanging device must support the overall design.

Before I go on with descriptions, let’s look at a couple of images here:

Alma BeachAlma Beach, NB measures approximately 30″ h x 40″ w. The piece can be considered a textile collage. I used canvas, soft pastels, various natural fibers, needle felting, tulle and recycled plastic.

This work that does not have much quilting to stabilize it, so it was imperative to add stability in another manner. Stretching was not an option. I knew the work would travel and adding stretchers makes the cost of shipping and transportation prohibitive. I opted to used facing for stabilization. This enables me to roll the work and at the same time makes it easy to ship and store.

Alma Beach backviewAlma Beach, backview. The quilting, facing and label are visible. For the facing I cut canvas strips 6 ” wide. They were folded in half, stitched to the front of the work as if I apply binding. I trimmed the bulk away from the edge, folded the facing to the back and pressed it in place. I attach the sides with blind hem stitch first, then I add bottom and top, making sure the facing is not showing at the front. The hanging sleeve is applied last – but more on that later.

Burned edges and beading_fullThis embroidery piece features burnt edges and beading. It was my goal to lead the eye off the edge without a harsh edge. I kept the edges soft by burning and layering them.

Burned edges and beadingAn opaque piece of polyester fabric was safely attached to the back ensuring a clean finish.

Burned edges back viewYou can see the stitches made with smoke colored invisible thread. This hanging held up well, I completed it in 1998 and it has traveled far and wide and served as a class sample regularly.

Pinball Memories is a small pieced and appliqued hanging. I incorporated silver fabrics and decided to add a 1/4″ binding with the same fabric, which supports the overall theme and finishes off the final border appropriately.

Pinball MemoriesBelow a detail of the back.

Pinball Memories backview and bindingAnother finishing technique I embrace is the pillow case turn. This technique requires thinking ahead as it needs to be done before the quilting is applied.

Autumnal ImpressionI layer the piece from bottom to top: Batting, quilt top, backing. I stitch all around the piece, leaving an opening large enough to turn the piece inside out. Before turning I carefully trim the batting from the seam allowance to ensure reduced bulk and a nice crisp edge, see close up below.

Autumnal Impression detail viewAnother option: Combining pillow case turn and a contrasting binding makes this small sample a little more eye-catching.

Pillowcase turn and contrating edgeLet’s move on to hanging a piece. As always, a hanging device is a vital part of an art piece. It has the potential to “make or brake” your work. Below is one of my early pieces, Flying Solo.

Flying Solo

I had created a number of smaller quilts and connected these with fabric tabs. The exposed copper rod became a integral part of the design. Note: The tabs for the rod are a little larger than the tabs connecting the smaller parts. The emphasis on the rod is just enough to draw attention to it but not enough to stop the eye to travel across the work.

My work has evolved and I now rarely feature the hanging device as a design element. Here is “Small Island – Great Impact,” my tribute to PEI’s potato fields in early spring, the wind and water surrounding the province.

Small Island

Here is the back. The piece is assembled from individual strips, some of them inserted for a 3-D effect. This required a more individual approach to assembly and finishing. For added stability I used facing.

Small Island_backview

The close close up image shows the label, and since I used blue thread to secure the facing you can detect the stitches on the ecru fabric.

Small Island_facing detailThis is a close up of the hanging sleeve. It was made separately as a tube and sewn on securely by hand. It measures about 4.5 ” wide and is large enough to accommodate rods that are as large as broom sticks with out bulging.

Small Island Hanging Sleeve detail

To achieve the space for rounded hanging rods I attach the hanging sleeve with 1/4 “pucker” all along the upper edge. Allowing this extra fabric at the bottom means that the hanging sleeve material potentially shows at the top when the piece is hung in the exhibition space. So, always leave the space at the top! The yellow pins below are placed where the fabric fold is located.

Hanging Sleeve Allowance

Here is the hanging sleeve with a hanging rod inserted.

Hanging rod inserted

I hope the images and sharing my personal experience will help those of you who have been wondering how to finish work and prepare it for hanging. More questions: Leave them in the comment section and remember – each question will be entered into the contest. I am drawing the name on May 15th. To see and example of the piece check out the post from March 31st, 2013.

This entry was published on April 23, 2013 at 7:44 am. It’s filed under Art, Creativity Update, Design, Special Project, Studio / Workshop / Creative Space Challenge and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

9 thoughts on “Options for Finishing Textile Art?

  1. Pingback: A Flurry of Activity… | Anna Hergert, Art & Design

  2. Linda Dirkson on said:

    Anna, your examples and instructions are so helpful. Finishing a piece is something I struggle with. I can see how there really is no one way of doing it. I guess so much depends on the material and weight of the work.


    • Hi Linda, considering each piece individually IS the key to successful finishing. There are so many factors to focus on that a one-fits-all solution is not available. Glad you found this post helpful!


  3. Thanks Anna – you’ve talked about some very innovative ways of finishing the edges, some of which I’ve never done! I think that many parts of art quilting is solving problems and I think quilters can be very inventive. At some of my trunk shows I have shown how I solved some problems. It caused laughter but it also solved the problems.


  4. thanks for this interesting piece.


  5. This is such an important consideration! I was given advice long ago that i should know how the edges are to be finished and how it will be presented/hung BEFORE i started any of the actual work–sometimes i do, sometimes i still have to figure it out at the end đŸ™‚ I’ve seen (and done some myself) quite strange solutions to this dilemma, some very creative and effective, some not so much!
    And that hanging sleeve is my least favourite part, but once you’ve done a couple, easy and appropriate–especially when entering shows when uniformity is important because of the logistics of hanging many pieces!


Share your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: