Wall Art Alternative: How To Frame Vintage Clothing
Framing a garment can seem like an intimidating process, but it’s actually quite easy to do yourself. The framing pros have a lot of specialized tools and tricks (like using a tagging gun instead of hand stitching, for instance), but for us weekend warriors, it’s all about using simple tools and getting the job done so we can enjoy our completed gallery wall that much sooner. So grab your grandpa’s letter sweater or your grannies floral girdle and get to framing!
What You’ll Need
- 1-2 pieces of archival mat board
- Fishing line
- Craft or embroidery needle
- Sharp scissors or utility knife
- Frame with depth
- Push pin or nail
- Pen or marker
- Foam core (optional)
- Spray mount (optional)
Step 1. First, cut two pieces of mat board to fit inside your frame. You’ll use one for your backing board, the other will be cut out to the shape of your garment and sewn inside as a liner board to provide stability.
Step 2. Lay your garment out flat on a board and position it however you’d like it to appear as the final product. The swimsuit I framed could be worn two ways so I tried both variations before tracing and cutting out the suit.
Step 3. Once you’ve positioned the garment, trace around the perimeter. If the fabric has stretch, add at least 3/4″ of an inch so the piece hugs the liner and looks really nice and flat. If 3/4″ is too much you can always trim away at the edges.
Step 4. Mark out key areas on the bodice of your liner board where you plan to attach the garment. On the suit, I marked out four spots: both straps and each side of the highest point of the bodice.
Step 5. Using a push pin or small nail, pre-punch each hole. Mat board is thick, so this process will make stitching the garment to the board so much easier. Once your holes have been punched, slide the garment around the liner board. Keep the push pins close by, you may need to use them again on a few pesky holes.
Step 6. Thread your craft needle with fishing line and stitch two loops. Start the needle on the back of the board and run it up through the first hole. Bring it back down from the front side and tie it off in a double knot on the back.
Step 7. Trim the tail and cover the stitch with tape.
Step 8. Repeat this process on every area you’ve marked out for a stitch. Sew (or tape) down any tags or other pieces of the garment you don’t want to show on the back side of the liner board.
Step 9. Once you’ve stitched the garment to the liner board, position it exactly as you want it to lay on on the second piece of mat board, the backing board. Without disturbing the positioning of the garment, carefully pull back the fabric to reveal the punched, stitched holes. Stick your push pin down through those holes into the backing board to mark out the area where you’ll be stitching the liner board to the backing board. Note: Slight pressure is all you need to mark out all areas on the backing board. Once every area is marked you can remove the garment from the backing board and finish punching the holes through.
Step 10. Stitch the garment* to the backing board by starting the needle at the back of the board and sending it up over the front and back down again. Run two stitches and double knot the fishing line on the back side of the board. Trim the tails and place a strip of tape over the knots.
*If you’re working with a particularly heavy garment it’s a good idea to spray mount the backing board (with the stitched liner board) to a piece of foam core to help stabilize the backing board before placing it in the frame. This will keep the backing board from sagging. Do not do this step until you’ve stitched your liner board to the backing board.
Step 11. Frame your garment. Ikea’s GUNNABO frame is fantastic for hanging garments. It has a box frame insert that allows for about an inch of added depth.
The process has quite a few steps but once you get the hang of it -it goes pretty quickly. Just be sure to buy enough frames…because the final product is so satisfying it can become quite addicting!
Have a really great DIY project or tutorial that you want to share with others? Let us know! We love checking out what you’re making these days, and learning from our readers. When you’re ready, click here to submit your project and photos.