Which Cross Stitch Frame Is Best?

One of the first things any cross stitcher gets is a frame, and as they develop their craft, they start looking at other options. We show the best frames out there, with detailed pros and cons so you can pick the right frame for your project, if you’re looking for a way to cross stitch faster or finish your project in a frame.

Embroidery Hoops

Embroidery hoops are probably the first types of frame any stitcher gets. They come in multiple sizes, they’re cheap, and they can be left in the hoop for as long as you like (even for framing). However, the very fact that you’re reading this post probably suggest you don’t want to stick with one. They’re a bit clunky, hard to hold, and can’t accommodate large stitches.
However, before we move on, there are loads of types of hoops that might help. Whilst most start with wooden hoops, that can be quite heavy, plastic ones are far lighter, and whilst not as strong, are much easier on the wrist.
embroidery hoops
Cheap
Can finish the piece in one
Come in varying sizes
Hard to hold
Need to keep buying different sizes
Cannot use for medium/large pieces

Spring Tension Hoops

Basically a standard embroidery hoop, but instead of an internal wooden ring, they have a wire you slot in. They have a nice and easy install, however they don’t have as strong of a pull than the wooden kind. They also tend to come in a little more expensive too.
spring tension embroidery hoops
Mostly cheap
Super easy to set up
Come in varying sizes
Hard to hold
Need to keep buying different sizes
Cannot use for medium/large pieces

Scroll Frames

And so scroll frames were invented! Solving all the problems an embroidery hoop has (even if they cause some others) scroll frames are the go to frame type for anyone moving on from a hoop. They allow you to sew/tape/staple in your aida and you can stitch to your hearts content. There are a few draw backs though; they’re heavy, really heavy, however you can attach them onto holders so you don’t have to hold them. In addition they’re quite expensive, and due to having to sew in your projects, wear quite quick. You also need to loosen the frame when you’re not stitching to stop it pulling unevenly. And finally, you have to attach them to the frame, either by stitching them on, tape or stapling, which pulls at the edges of the aida and takes forever to set up.
embroidery hoops
Come in hundreds of sizes
Perfect for large/extra large pieces
Heavy
Quite expensive
Cannot “hold” stitch

Easy Clip Frames

So if you read the above review, the main issue with scroll frames comes from the fact that you have to stitch them in. However with an easy clip frame you instead clip the aida in, solving all these problems. Sure, scroll frames, even easy clip are heavy, but they hold the aida tight when not stitching, they don’t wear, and they’re just as versatile. Most serious cross stitchers move onto an easy clip frame sooner or later, they’re the best long term investment.
As an update to my original post, you can now get plastic easy clip frames that are much lighter.
embroidery hoops
Come in hundreds of sizes
Perfect for large/extra large pieces
Best long term price investment
Heavy

Bar Frames

Speaking of long term investments, bar frames are sold as exactly that. They’re sold in 4 to 6 inch bars which clip together to allow you to extend the size of your stitching area. It means that instead of having to buy progressively larger and larger frames, you can just add a few cheap bars. However, this does come with a few draw backs. Firstly, they’re not light, although still lighter than scroll frames (although the plastic ones are lighter). Secondly they’re really bad at holding large pieces, the plastic variety is even worse at this. Thirdly, you can’t hold your aida in one when not stitching, they warp the shape due to being square frames; which is a real problem baring in mind you have to staple your aida in.
embroidery hoops
Much cheaper long term than other frames
Quite heavy
Cannot “hold” stitch
Cannot use for very large pieces

Grip-n-Stitch

This is a new type of frame, made to try and combine all the above frames into one super frame. I’ve tried them a few times, and whilst they do live up to a bit of the hype, I still find myself going back to a easy clip frame. They’re made up in a similar way to a bar frame, but made of a special interlocking rigid plastic so it holds large pieces better. In addition you then clip in spikes to the edges to hold the aida. You’re meant to wet the aida pull it across and it holds the aida perfectly, which does work VERY well, especially the tension it holds, however it requires at least 30 minutes of building, then getting your aida all wet before you can put it together, and then a further 4-8 hours to let your aida dry completely before you can use it. They also have a “Grip-n-Frame” product too, which allows for fantastic framing of finished pieces.
embroidery hoops
Cheap
Light
Perfect for small/medium pieces
Cannot “hold” stitch
Can be uncomfortable to hold
Takes hours to set up each time

Universal Craft Frame

Unlike the rest of the reviewed frames, this one you can create at home. Simply put, its a series of PVC pipes. You can buy kits to make your job slightly easier, however its adaptability is the real seller here. You can swap out lengths for shorter or longer pieces depending on what you’re stitching, and you can very easily put your project into the frame. They tend to loose their hold so you need to put them back in each time you stitch, however it takes seconds. They don’t pucker or flatten the area stitched areas, and they’re lightweight. The only one downside is as the projects get larger, it can get a little unwieldy.
universal craft frame
Cheap
Light
Perfect for small/medium pieces
Cannot “hold” stitch
Not suitable for larger projects

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