Folding Sewing Frame

Folded sewing frame Although my book press sewing frame is excellent, it is not very portable, particularly since I had it remade in steel. When sewing on another floor in my house, or outside of the house, I wanted something smaller. Unfolded sewing frame

Hardware inside sewing frameHaving it capable of holding its own hardware was a bonus.

Materials Required

2 picture frames, or a folding chessboard of appropriate size

Picture framesI started with two "box-type" picture frames. They were the cheapest, nastiest ones I could find, costing 2 each, but they had the correct proportions. I needed them to be at least 33cm tall, no more than 15 or 20cm wide, and at least 6mm deep (inside measurement). It was only later that I realised all I needed was a sufficiently large chess board box, but having started with the picture frames, I thought I would continue.

2 threaded rods
These should be about 16 cm long and as thick as you can reliably get hardware for. Carriage bolts will do instead, if they are threaded all the way along.
2 wing nuts
To fit your threaded rods
2 short bolts
These should be of the same diameter as your threaded rods and at least 1 or 2cm deeper than the thickness of one picture frame, or half the box depth. They will provide the back legs of the sewing frame.
4 hex nuts
To fit the threaded rods and bolts
4 cap nuts
These are like hex nuts with rounded ends that go over the ends of the threaded rods. They will serve as feet for the press. They should fit the threaded rods and bolts
8 washers
To fit the threaded rods and bolts
2 eyebolts
Choose ones whose eyes are large enough to fit smoothly over the threaded rods
Aluminium tubing
This should be wide enough to insert the shanks of the eyebolts in and just short of the interscrew distance on your sewing frame.
A piece of square-profile wood
This should be twice as long as your box and no more thick than your box is deep (inside measurements).


  1. Hinge the boxes together, if they are not already hinged.
    I used a cloth tape hinge, but any hinge that allows the box to open all the way flat will do. This is where a chess board box (the kind that holds the pieces inside it) is ideal, since it's already hinged
  2. Fill in the edges to be drilled with the square-profile wood.
    Hardware inside sewing frameUnless you fill in the front edge of the box (in white on my box), once you cut your sewing slot all your contents are going to fall out. There is also a risk that the thin strip of wood beside the sewing slot will break. To stop this, fill each front edge of the box with a piece of wood and glue it down.
  3. Drill holes
    You'll need a hole in each of the 4 corners of the flattened surface, through the additional pieces of wood you just inserted. These should be large enough for your threaded rods to pass through smoothly. Drill two more holes of the same size in one edge of the box, in line with and about 1cm in from the corner holes.
  4. Cut sewing slot
    Use a jigsaw to connect the two inner holes to make one long slot with round ends.
  5. Assemble and use
    The front uprights are assembled as follows:
    frame hardware 1. Threaded rod
    2. Aluminium tubing for crossbar
    3. Eyebolt
    4. Wing nut (mounted upside down)
    5. Hex nut
    6. Washer
    7. Sewing frame table
    8. Cap nut
    The back uprights, which are just there to keep the table level, should be put together as follows:
    frame hardware 5. Hex nut
    6. Washer
    7. Sewing frame table
    8. Cap nut
    9. Bolt (head upward)

Lessons learned during construction

I spent a lot of time making cloth hinges for the picture frames. Then I realised that a chessboard box would have done just as well. Still kicking myself on that one.