Mary Corbet

writer and founder


I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

Contact Mary

Connect with Mary



2024 (52) 2023 (125) 2022 (136) 2021 (130) 2020 (132) 2019 (147) 2018 (146) 2017 (169) 2016 (147) 2015 (246) 2014 (294) 2013 (294) 2012 (305) 2011 (306) 2010 (316) 2009 (367) 2008 (352) 2007 (225) 2006 (139)

Reader’s Question: On Using a Scroll Frame for Ribbon Embroidery


Amazon Books

I thought I’d poll the audience for help on this reader’s question. I haven’t personally used the type of scroll frame she’s talking about for any of my needlework projects, but I thought some of you out there may have, so perhaps you can help her? Read on for the question…

Nean left a comment under Embroidery Hoops and Frames Review, asking the following:

I am new at using scroll frames and am hoping someone can help me, as the frame I just purchased came with no instructions. My project really called for a 14 x 24-inch frame, but I could only find a 9 x 24 scroll frame. It has slitted dowels at the top and bottom. These are the 24-inch long pieces. The side bars are attached via wing nuts. I have slipped my linen into the top and bottom, revealing the middle of my project; however it never seems to tighten sufficiently and I’m also wondering if the split dowels won’t snag my ribbon embroidery as I move it along? How do you attach your fabric? How do you keep scrolling it along? Any tips would be most appreciated! Thank you.

This is my answer (besides letting Nean know I would be asking you, too!):

My scroll frames have a canvas tape across the top (scrolling) bars. I attach my fabric to the tape, and then roll it as I progress. I use the wing nuts (which are usually more like three-pointed large plastic knobs for easy turning) to tighten the scroller bars after rolling the fabric.

I don’t think we’re using the same type of scroll frame, so I was hoping someone could help her out?

If you’ve used this type of scroll frame and can help us all out with a good tip, please leave a comment below!

Thanks heaps!


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


(6) Comments

  1. Hi Mary

    Although I have not uses a scroll frame like the one Nean describes, the Japanese embroidery frames have split dowels that sound the same.

    When the fabric is passed between the dowels it is not pulled taught, you leave enough slack fabric to rotate the dowels so that the fabric wraps around the dowels and itself. This is what helps the dowels grip the fabric.

    In Japanese embroidery we stitch cotton ends onto the silk and thread this through the dowels, this is so we do not have to uses more of the expenses silk than necessary and, second, so that the dowels do not damage the expensive silk.

    I don’t think that the smaller frame will be suitable for Nean’s SRE unless the SRE is confined to the centre of the design. If the SRE is threaded through the dowels and wrapped around them it will be crushed.

    I hope this helps.


  2. Is this the type with the dowels completely split down the middle? or is the slit just 2-3 inches down the dowel ends?

    My grandmother showed me how to use the kind that just has a split in from the edges.

    It requires you to use some sturdy cotton thread. Size 10 crochet cotton (aunt lydia from walmart worked for me). roll the fabric around the dowel ONE time in the opposite direction of what you intend to roll. You want the edge of the hem to touches the wrong side of the fabric. Then you run your cotton thread lengthwise, along the dowel and catch it through the slits and tie the ends together with a good knot, then roll your fabric back the other way. until you find the proper working surface and secure it with the wing nuts. This creates a crease in the fabric near the edge, and provides you with enough tension to get close to the edge.

    I’ve also used the kind with the split dowel. Basically, that’s pretty much the same method except no need of extra crochet thread/yarn. I sandwich the top hem of the fabric between the dowel sides, then roll the dowel sandwich over the top and toward me (basically the wrong side of the fabric will be over the top of the dowel. Then I roll until I get near where my work will be, secure it with the wingnuts, do the same with the bottom hem only turn it so the wrong side is on the outside rolled up toward and secure that side as well.

    Just be sure you’re able to get enough of the hem in the slit to essentially “catch” the fabric. The tightness of that first roll will be enough to keep the fabric secure on the dowels.

    I really hope that makes sense.

  3. I have two of those frames, with a project in each of them. I baste two to three inches of muslin around the edges of my fabric, and once I’ve slid the muslin into the slot of the frame, I staple it. Then I roll it…the strain goes onto the muslin, not the fabric. And you get the tightness that you need.

  4. When you use the split dowel, the sides of the linen (or whatever) are loose. In addition to making sure that the linen is tight between the dowels, the sides of the fabric need to be secured to the sides of the scrool frame. You could sew or tie the sides; I put ‘mitten clips’ on self-stick Velcro strips with the hook part of the Velcro around the scroll-frame sides. So I have adjustable, easy to change, tensioners.

  5. I have these frames too, and couldn’t get the tension even when placing the fabric directly in the split dowels. The split on one side of the dowel stops a few inches from the end so it cannot be tightened down as much as the fully split side. The fabric slips and shreds on that side even when the edge is overcast. To remedy this, I sewed “sleeves” out of cotton twill that go through the split, covering the bottom split dowel. The sleeve has a 4″ tab on the bottom going the length of the dowel. I hand sew the ends of the main fabric to the tabs, then roll up. This helps to keep the correct tension and pads the roller a bit. I know the intent of these frames is to be a “no sew” solution, but it doesn’t work well that way. I’d rather do the prep work to prevent damaging a piece with so many hours invested.

  6. I’ve just started using the scroll frames I have for petit point for crewel and they do need to be fastened on the side as well. I like the mitten clip idea as I have been lacing the sides. It works well and uses only stuff I have anyway but does mean it’s a it of a chore to move from one place to another unless I have a frame big enough to take the whole design.

    Incidentally, I live in England and the frames I get here have a groove in the dowel and a clip that fits into it and is then held more securely by the roll of the fabric. They work really well and can be on or off in just a couple of minutes.

More Comments