A variety of systems can be used to hang textiles and rugs for display. These range from sleeve casings and twill tapes fitted with rings, to mounts that require overall stitching of the textile to a backing fabric and framing. A VELCRO® mount has replaced the use of sleeve casings and tapes and ring systems as the technique of choice by most conservators for the following reasons: 1) it is relatively easy to execute, 2) the points of stress on the hanging edge are minimal, and 3) it allows for adjustments and repositioning to compensate for dimensional movement and ripples in the textile caused by changes in humidity, or because of the natural uneven quality of many handmade textiles. A caveat: this hanging method is not appropriate for all textiles. Evaluate the textile carefully to see if it can truly support its own weight. If in doubt, consult a conservator to select the appropriate hanging method. This method is most often recommended for sturdy blankets, quilts, and rugs. It is not appropriate for thin or fragile textiles, such as silk, or for textiles with heavy surface embellishments like beads.
- Undyed cotton tape (such as the canvas webbing used by upholsterers): 2" width for lightweight textiles and 3" width for heavier pieces.
- VELCRO® brand hook and loop fastener: The 1" width loop side of the tapes is adequate for lightweight textiles and 2" width for heavier pieces. The 2" wide hook side of the tape is attached to the wooden slat for hanging.
- Cotton sewing thread: The weight of the thread and color will need to be matched to the textile.
- Wooden slat: Select a poplar or other low-resin wood. The slat should have a 1/2" x 3" profile and be cut approximately 1/2" shorter than the width of the hanging edge of the textile. To protect the textile from wood acids, apply two coats of a water-borne polyurethane varnish to the slat.
- Non-rusting staples or tacks are used to attach the hook tape to the wooden slat.
- Fasteners such as mirror plates, "D" rings, or eye screws can be used to attach the slat to the wall.
Steps for hanging
1. The easiest way to attach the loop tape (soft side) to the cotton canvas webbing is with a sewing machine. Center the loop tape on the webbing and sew down the length of the tape as shown in the diagram below. Note: the tape should never be sewn directly to your textile. Because of the tape’s stiffness, it is very difficult to work a sewing needle through it. The stress of trying to pull a needle through the tape may cause damage to your textile.
2. Place your textile face down on a clean, flat surface. Hand-woven textiles are not perfectly square. Allow the textile to assume its natural shape. Lay the webbing with the loop tape in a straight line across the top of the back of the textile. Do not try to follow the line of the upper edge if the textile is uneven. So as not to be visible from the front, the webbing should be placed at least 3/8" below the upper edge of the textile.
3. Mark the straight line of the upper edge of the webbing with a few pins, but do not pin the webbing to the textile. The line of pins will allow you to ease the webbing as you sew and still maintain a straight line.
4. When sewing, you will work from the center to one edge of the textile, and then from the center to the other edge. This technique is used to prevent the textile from stretching in one direction along the top edge. Thread a sharp needle with cotton thread that matches the background color of the textile. (Try to work the needle between the threads of the textile rather than piercing textile warps and wefts.) Working from the back, stitch through the webbing and textile above the loop tape. Make a small backstitch (over 2 or 3 warp threads) and bring the needle back through the textile and webbing as shown in the diagram below. Take a long stitch (about 1") on the back, and then make another backstitch. Continue to the edge. Returning to the center, complete the row of stitching. Place another row of stitching below through the webbing below the tape, as shown on the diagram.
5. The wooden slat, coated with varnish and thoroughly dried, is now ready to prepare with the hook tape. Using staples or tacks, attach the hook tape in a straight line along the slat the same distance from the top of the slat as the loop tape is from the top of the textile. The staples should be placed about 1" apart and staggered for greater strength.
There are a variety of hangers available to attach the slat to the wall. Mirror plates, "D" rings and eye screws are all possibilities. Install all of the hardware.
6. Match the two halves of the loop and hook tape together, working from one side of the textile to the other. Be careful not to stretch the upper edge of the textile as you work across the slat. If it is necessary to make adjustments, slide your hand in between the two tapes to release. Do not pull the tapes apart, as this can place strain on the textile.
7. Install slat on the wall.