Scrolll frames are an older method of holding needlework tightly while you stitch. While there are differences between frames, they all are constructed the same way. Every scroll frame has two horizontal circular rods that can move to allow the stitcher to roll the piece to work on a different area. There are also two rigid vertical sides. These have holes top and bottom that the rod ends go through. Put two sets of matching pieces together and you get a frame, as in the picture above.
Like stretcher bars, scroll frame parts come in different sizes. The rods are picked to be slightly wider than the width of your canvas. The rigid bars are picked to be the length of the area you want to have exposed for stitching. When the bars are longer, the area to stitch without moving the canvas is bigger.
Scroll bar systems have some method to make it easier to move the rod. In the system pictured above these are wingnuts covered with a plastic handle.
With the wide variety of similar methods to put together scroll bars, you might think you can mix and match. In reality you cannot. Pick one scroll bar system and stick with it.
When using scroll bars, you need to attach the canvas ends to the rods. Traditionally the rods have twil tape on them and the canvas is basted onto the tape. Another method uses Velcro. Other scroll bars have slits in the rods where the canvas is inserted.
The big problem with scroll bars for needlepoint is that it is extremely difficult to keep the needlepoint tight. Without some help, you’ll find yourself constantly tightening the canvas.
There have been various methods developed to keep the stitching tight. I’ll talk about several of them.
The traditional method is lacing. The stitching is attached to the rigid side bars by strog threads, such s pearl cotton, sewn through the sides arond the sides and back into the canvas. This works well but needs to be undine and redone to move to another area for stitching.
K’s Creations make belt frames. (learn about them here). These frames have a second set of rigid bars beyond the scroll bars, making them rigid on all sides.
K’s also makes what they call Perfect Tension side bars. According the their description they allow you to adjust the tension. I have not tried these so I don’t know how well they work. If you have tried them, please let us know in the comments.
Many folks make scroll frame clips. These come in sets of four. They have suspender clips onthe end of a loop and are made from fabric-covered elastic. Slip the rigid sides through the loops, two per side, and attach the clip to the canvas. i have also seen different types of these.
When to Use Scroll Frames
Scroll frames really come to the forefront when your item is so long stretchers bars are unweildy. Think growth charts, stockings, belts, or bellpulls. If your canvas is so large stitching in the center is uncomfortable, a scroll frame may be a perfect choice for you.