Hanging Tapestries with Velcro by Mary Lane

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Although there are many methods of hanging tapestries, the use of a batten with Velcro to hang medium and large sized tapestries has become standard among conservators and museums. This method distributes the stresses of hanging evenly across the entire width of the fabric and allows for easy repositioning of the tapestry and installation.

Supplies needed:

  • Batten – Most commonly the batten is made of clear, straight grained wood, approximately 1/2” x 3 – 4” in dimensions. Soft woods such as fir, pine or alder are suitable. For very large, and thus heavy tapestries, a stronger wood with larger dimensions, such as 1” x 4” piece of mahogany or oak is advised. Cut the batten approximately two inches shorter than the width of the tapestry.
  • Polyurethane
  • Washed cotton or linen – enough to wrap the batten (optional)
  • Velcro hook and fastener, two inches wide and approximately two inches shorter than the width of the tapestry
  • Heavy undyed twill tape or canvas webbing, two to three inches in width, one inch longer than the Velcro
  • Twill tape – 1 1/2” – 2” in width
  • Staple gun with non-rusting staples
  • Eye Screws
  • Cotton sewing thread

Steps:

1. Apply two coats of polyurethane to the wooden batten, allowing it to dry in between coats the recommended length of time. If you wish to cover the board with cotton or linen, cut the fabric to a size that will allow the board to be wrapped as you would a gift. Stretch the cloth tightly as you wrap it completely around the batten. Secure the cloth by stapling through the cloth and into the board every two or three inches. Position the hooked half of the Velcro along the top edge of the board, covering the staples that are securing the cloth. If the row of staples that secures the cloth is in the top two inches of the batten, they will be covered completely by the Velcro. Staple along the perimeter of the Velcro every two inches to secure. Screw in two eye screws along the top edge of the batten.

Wooden batten covered with cotton, with Velcro, eye screws and fishing line

2. Position the soft half of the Velcro in the center of the cotton twill tape (or canvas webbing) and sew it in place using a sewing machine. Lay the tapestry on a flat surface and smooth it out without stretching. Lay the twill tape/Velcro unit in a straight line about 1/2” to 3/4” from the top edge of the tapestry. Sew the twill tape to the tapestry by hand using a simple slipstitch. Sew from the center of the twill tape out to the edges along the top and the bottom. Sew completely through the tapestry, from back to front on one side of a warp thread and from front to back around the other side of the same warp thread. The stitches should be hidden within the weft. Add an additional row of stitches through the twill tape just below the Velcro. A curved needle makes this easier.

Twill tape/Velcro unit stitched to the back of the tapestry

3. The batten with Velcro is attached to the tapestry by matching the two halves of the Velcro. The batten and the eye screws should not be visible from the front of the tapestry.

4. The tapestry can be hung by hooking the eye screws over nails in the wall. Square the tapestry by adjusting the placement of the tapestry on the batten. Alternatively, one may string picture hanging wire or fishing line between the eye screws and then suspend the tapestry from a hook attached to picture moulding on the wall.

Batten attached to the twill tape/Velcro unit. Lightweight twill tape covers the warp ends on both sides.

If the warp ends are cut and turned back for finishing, they can be covered with a lightweight twill tape, 1 1/2” – 2” in width. This will prevent excess abrasion that might lead to fraying. Preferably the twill tape is undyed. Wash it and dry in a dryer to shrink it before you apply it to the tapestry. Cover the warp ends with the twill tape and sew in place by hand.

Weft ends on the back of the tapestry that are within a few inches of either side of the tapestry should be sewn down so that they do not hang out from the sides.

Mary Lane 2007