Hanging a tapestry can add a beautiful design feature to your home. While in the past they have referred to large, heavy woven fabric that is used as wall décor or upholstery, now they can be made of any fabric. They are beautiful and can also be very useful. They can add a design element to a room to add color or texture, and even decrease noise, echoes and ambient sound. As you can see from the picture above (and the video if you give it a watch), I had an extra helper there with me…Beau Bridges! Thanks for helping, Beau!
Ok…So I have to admit that I got a little carried away with my tapestry wall feature! I was just so freaking excited that I got to use the actual runner from our wedding to make a beautiful art piece in our home that will remind us of our magical wedding day! Yay! So then I got to researching tapestries and found myself immersed in Renaissance history for hours. I’m realizing more and more that the Renaissance era was my favorite era for design. So if you want to be a dork like me and learn the history of tapestries, read below. If you want to skip to the meat and potatoes of how to hang a tapestry, skip a couple of paragraphs down to “Getting Started”.
What is a Tapestry:
The word tapestry derives from the French word tapisserie meaning “to cover with heavy fabric, to carpet”. Centuries ago, a tapestry was a large, thick, heavy, hand-woven textile used for hangings, curtains, and upholstery. Now the word “tapestry” can refer to any type of fabric you would like to display on a wall.
History of Tapestries:
In the Middle Ages, Medieval Times, and The Renaissance Period, tapestries had a purely utilitarian function. These bad boys were useful…not just pretty! They were originally designed to insulate large rooms from cold weather and to cover bare walls of castles. As time went on, the handmade tapestry was woven with family stories, stories of war, family emblems or coat of arms, and was hung behind a throne as a symbol of authority. Since many of these held family history, they were considered “nomadic murals” that Kings could roll up, transport and rehang in their new home or kingdom. Because they were large and hand-woven, tapestries became more than simply story-tellers. They became displays of wealth, royalty and power.
So now you know where tapestries came from and how they’ve evolved over time. Now they are considered to be any piece of fabric that you would like to hang on your wall. From large, hand-woven, heavy gorgeous pieces of art, history and family stories to a colorful psychedelic sheet that you hang in your dorm room…you decide what YOUR tapestry will be!
There are several different ways to hang tapestry, and much of that depends on the type of fabric you are hanging.
Different Methods of Hanging Fabric:
If using a heavy fabric:
- Hang a rod and create a rod pocket
- Use Velcro over a board
- Use baseboard
If using a lighter fabric:
- Mount on stretcher
- Attached to the wall with thumbtacks (dorm rooms)
- Hang with rings
In my opinion, the only time you should use thumbtacks or rings to hang fabric is when you don’t care about the integrity of the fabric. Both rings and thumbtacks will cause damage to a fabric, as the weight will be distributed unevenly.
Additionally as a design element, if you want your fabric to hang away from the wall, use the rod method. If you want your fabric to lay against your wall, use the Velcro, board, or stretcher methods. Since I am hanging my tapestry in a niche above my staircase, I want the tapestry to hang away from the wall, so I did the rod method.
What kind of fabrics can you hang?
You can use actual tapestries, rugs, your favorite fabric, grandma’s quilt, or even a runner from your wedding. (Woo Hoooooo!)
The runner from our wedding was made of burlap (which isn’t that heavy) so I could use one of the lighter hanging options, but I REALLY care about this fabric, and the style of my home is renaissance (as you can see in this picture below), so I’m choosing to hang this with a rod. This way I can match the rod to my staircase (wrought iron), and retain the integrity of the burlap fabric, since the weight will be evenly distributed.
- Curtain Rod (slightly larger than your fabric)
- Rod brackets and hardware (this should come with your curtain rod)
- Hot glue (or crafter’s glue)
- Screw gun (or screwdriver)
1. Measure wall/niche: The first thing you need to do is measure the area that you want to hang this tapestry. I suggest measuring the area, then cutting your fabric so that there’s a 6” gap all the way around your opening, with double the amount on top to use to make a rod pocket. (If this is on the wall instead of a niche, you can make it any size you would like). Since my fabric is already 4’ wide with a border, I will leave the width and only cut the length. The measurements of my niche are 51” wide x 86” long.
2. Cut your fabric to the correct length. You can do a detailed cut on the bottom or cut straight across. I would like a little variation, so I will cut mine at an angle. This is what is known as a dovetail cut. The easiest way to do this is to fold your fabric in half and cut both sides together. This will ensure that you have an even cut on both sides (a great tip for cutting ribbon as well).
3. Lay out your tapestry on a work surface face down. If your fabric is wrinkled, this would be the best time to iron it. You can also steam it once it’s in place, but test your fabric to see if it can stand up to steaming.
4. Take the top of your tapestry and fold it over your rod, leaving a bit of a gap around the rod.
5. Take your glue and line the edge of your fabric and affix it to the backside of the tapestry.
6. Allow glue to dry completely.
7. Attach any finials to the ends of the rod.
8. Take the brackets and hardware and attach these to the wall just outside the width of your tapestry. You may need drywall anchors to hold these into place. Attach the brackets so that your tapestry hangs about 6” down from the top (or equidistant to your bottom measurement).
9. Hang your tapestry!
This is a picture of it hung at the Home and Family house. Stay tuned to see it hung at our house. (I have it sitting in my house and have to admit I’ve been a wee bit lazy about hanging it! Whoops!)
Oh…and many of you have asked where I got the cute little jean vest I’m wearing in this picture. Actually, the wonderful and talented Ameka Jane DIY’ed this little number for me. Check out how to get the same look by clicking here!
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