What do I need to make a frame?
For a basic frame, you will need lengths of wood, screws, and carpet edge strips. It is a relatively cheap and easy process, though it will take some time and planning.
Here are some other great guides and videos to get you started:
How large should I make my frame?
This is entirely up to you and will be informed by how large or small you want your pieces to be. Keep in mind that you can include more than one piece on a single stretched piece of fabric, and then finish them individually.
If you are just starting out, I would recommend something 900mm X 900mm (35.4 in X 35.4 in). This is because many suppliers will list 1m X 1m (1.09 X 1.09 yard) pieces of monk's cloth. This will allow you to have a bit of overhang, making stretching your fabric easier. Of course, you can buy different lengths of monks cloth that are larger or cut these lengths to be smaller, which will then mean you need a different-sized frame.
Be mindful that it is significantly more difficult to complete a large piece when you are relying on a frame smaller than the total size of your piece. For example, you want to create a piece that is 3 meters by 1 meter. You are better off creating a frame that will fit these dimensions, opposed to using a 1 meter by 1 meter frame with the hopes of stitching the pieces together to finish. It is certainly possible, but much trickier and leaves you open to mistakes and mismatched lines.
How does the fabric stick to the frame?
In order to adhere the fabric to the frame, you will need to attach a gripper to the frame. This will allow you to stretch your fabric while you work. However, unlike a glue or adhesive, the cloth is easily removed once your piece is finished.
The most typical/common gripper used in tufting frames is carpet gripper. When laying carpet in a traditional setting (on the floor of a home, office, etc.), carpet gripping segments are laid on the perimeter of the room to affix the carpet cleanly. These grips usually consist of a piece of thin plywood (or similar), with many small nails along one side which face away from the frame, and a small amount of larger nails used to fix the grip to the frame.
To attach the fabric to the frame, you will need to stretch it over the frame and press it down into the gripper. This will hold the fabric in place while you work on your piece. You may need to adjust the tension of the fabric as you work to ensure that it stays tight and smooth.
Once you have finished your piece, you can simply release the tension on the fabric and remove it from the frame. The gripper should release the fabric easily, leaving no residue or damage to the fabric.
Overall, making your own frame for tufting can be a fun and rewarding process. With a bit of planning and some basic materials, you can create a frame that will allow you to create beautiful tufted pieces of art.