Make Your Own Pin Frame

Rissa Peace Root 2005

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I am a part of a very special small online group known as Crazy Gathering.  I have been in two amazing Round Robins, the Summer Round Robin and the Beading Round Robin.  I found that I was continually inspired by the blocks that came to me for embellishment. One of the perpetual challenges for me was how to hoop or stabilize the block so that I could work on it.  This is especially difficult with odd shaped and heavily encrusted blocks.  You just can't put a hoop over beading or French knots.  So I was forced to come up with a solution.

I first read about something called a "pin frame" in one of the many books on my bookshelf.  I can't remember which book, but I think the author was British. Basically, it was a padded frame to which you "pinned" your work with silk pins for stabilization. One day, I received an incredible block from Sandra Roy that was intended to be a cover for a large sewing basket.  I knew that I wanted to do some beading, so I had the idea to make my own pin frame. 

One weekend, I looked around my studio and found the right materials. 

  • Wooden stretcher bars, any size that appeals to you
  • Wool batting (cotton is acceptable, but living in the humid south, wool seemed like a better choice for me)
  • Wool material (I used scraps from a recycled Brooks Brothers blazer that no longer fit)
  • Heavy duty thread
  • Silk pins


Assemble stretcher bars into a square or rectangle.  If the joints are not very tight, you can either wet them so the wood will expand or add a single drop of wood glue to each joint.  If you wet or glue your stretcher bars, make sure you let them dry sufficiently before you continue with the project.

Wrap the bars with batting until they were well padded.  What worked for me was to wrap each of the four bars in the centers, then wrap each corner and cut the batting until it was a decent fit.  To keep it in place use a small amount glue to secure the batting. 

Take four strips of fabric and tightly wrap each bar and sew into place.  You will probably need to use some of those pins to hold it in place while you stitch it .  Sew the center of the bars first, then tuck the ends in and make angled corners and sew them also. 

Once it is complete, you can pin your project to the frame and begin your work. Use silk pins to minimize any damage to the fine fabrics often used in Crazy Quilting.

View from the front with Sandra's block in place

View from behind

Sandra's block when I was finished working on it and ready to mail to the next (and final) person in the Round Robin.

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