No matter if you like a lot of hand quilting or you want to work fast and use a machine quilting instead, a quilting frame is going to help you so much on your crafting projects.
Let’s start with the beginning: what are quilting frames?
A quilting frame is a big structure that supports all three parts of the quilt: the top, the batting, and the backing.
The frame is going to work just as helping hands, as it’s going to maintain the quilt taut during your crafting.
Typically, you’re going to use the frame for hand quilting, but it can also be of great help for machine quilting.
You can find frames made of metal or wood, but most of them are made of plastic. You may use frames for finishing jobs, especially when you don’t want to baste the quilt.
What’s the best way to use a quilting frame?
Due to the variety of quilting frames, how you use each of them may differ. However, there are some general tips and guidelines to help you use a quilting frame a lot more efficiently:
- If you’re going to work on a large project, look for large quilting frames. They come in all sorts of sizes
- Use some cheap materials for making your very own quilting frame
- It’s best that you work from one side to the another (right or left, it’s up to you) every time
- It’s essential that you stitch toward yourself and away from yourself
- Select a cozy chair when using a frame. An armless chair with rollers is a useful option. If you go with one with arms, make sure that the arms are parallel to the floor.
- The back has to be 6” longer than the top, whereas the bat could use an extra 4-5” length as compared to the top
- It’s important that you baste or sew the layers together
- Place the backing of your quilt face down on the floor (a flat surface can work too). You need to place the batting over the backing and only afterward the quilt top. You may either sew or baste the layers together.
- It’s easier to load the frame with someone. It’s not easy to load the machine all alone
- If you’re using frames with rollers, it’s a good idea to choose flower head pins as they can lay down flat. Using them is going to reduce the risk for lumps in your fabric during rolling.
- Don’t forget to mark the pattern on the quilt before loading the quilt.
How to load a quilting frame
If you’re new to quilting, don’t stress out about how to load the quilting frame. As a matter of fact, there are different ways to do it so scroll down for the details to figure out which one may work for you the best way.
Every quilt loading method comes with ups and downs, and you shouldn’t think of them as “best” or “worst.” Some ways ensure quick loading/unloading but may require a perfectly squared and real quilt for best results. Other techniques may offer better control over the layers, but they may restrain your ability to quilt off the edge during a pantograph project.
You should try each of the methods and decide for yourself which one works the best for you.
There are three main types of loading styles: “partial float,” “full float,” and “full attachment.” A quilt “floats” when one of its sides is resting on the top of the backing and batting. Even if you hold it to the backing/batting with pins, it may still not be connected straight to the canvas or the frames.
- The partial float
With these methods, the top connects one edge to the frame, but not the opposite end as well. You attach one side of the quilt to the top roller; it makes the winding easier and gives you better control over the top of the quilt. Keep in mind that the opposite end isn’t connected to the Pick Up Roller as it lays on the batting and backing. You can use basting stitches/pins for holding it down.
You can use the partial float for pantographs as it lets you quilt off the edge without damaging the frame’s canvas.
- The full float
When you’re using the total float, you’re not connecting any part of the quilt to the frame. The quilt is going to hang over the backing and the batting.
It’s a fast method for loading the quilt as you only need to attach the backing frame to the frame. Some quilters like to remove the entire Quilt Top Roller from the frame, but they need a unique accessory for that. It’s a “Texas Hold’em Bracket” that makes the roller brake work.
Be aware that this method doesn’t provide much control over the top of your quilt.
- The full attachment method
You’re going to pin the top quilt to the Pick-Up roller, not only to the backing fabric. The technique ensures independent adjustments for the top and backing material, providing effective control over all the three layers. It’s going to be a breeze to ease the edges as there aren’t going to be many steps to do it. You shouldn’t use it for a pantograph that has to travel over the raw edge. You may end up a stitch on the canvas.
When you’re aiming for effective control of the top of your quilt, don’t hesitate to use the full attachment method.
Every method comes with both good and bad things (sort to speak). You’re a better quilter if you know to use each of them so that you use the right one for a specific quilting project. For instance, the full floating method works great when you use a regular backing fabric and need to quilt four placemats side by side.
There’s no such thing as “the best” way for loading the quilt. However, some techniques work better in specific projects, which is why you should master each of them.