Thursday, September 16, 2010

How to quilt the old fashioned way or Little Ron learns how to quilt

It was a question a while ago that has led to this post. Myra had seen a quilt that I showed here. She had not seen how a quilt on a frame gets quilted in the middle. With all the machine quilting being done these days, some of the new quilters may not realize that hand quilting a big quilt was, and is, easy. Some people who hand quilt prefer a hoop and I have used a hoop but I have also just basted a quilt (with lots of basting) and not used a hoop at all. Here, I will try to show just how easy it is to hand quilt on a frame. All you really need is 4 C-clamps and 4 boards 1" X 3". Two of the boards have to be longer than the length of your quilt and the other two have to be longer than the width. Oh yes, a staple gun is needed too along with some fabric strips.

Little Ron wanted to know what these boards were for since they were just lying in the corner of the computer/dining room. I told him they were quilt frame boards and that I wanted to put a quilt on a frame but I needed to see if I had the boards to fit. I hadn't realized that I had so many boards of various lengths. Here he is sitting on a couple of the boards. You can see that there is fabric stapled to the boards. The quilt backing and (hopefully) the quilt top too gets pinned to the fabric. Since it has to take a lot of pulling and tugging, the fabric should be doubled and should be a fairly tight weave. The floral fabric here is not necessarily a tight weave but it is a sturdy fabric and this particular board is not big.

While I am lucky enough to own a set of 'legs' for my quilt boards, you don't necessarily NEED them. You could sit the frame over the backs of 4 chairs. These particular legs were made by a wonderful man whose wife was a quilter and he used to sell the legs and oval frames (both with a stand and without) at quilt shows. I used to attend quilt shows with my friend Marg and she is the one who first got a set of these. They are fully adjustable. I am short and so I like the frame to sit shorter than other people like it.

Here are the boards sitting on the legs. There are grooves on the legs that doesn't show up in these photos. If anyone is interested, I can take a better photo.

A shot of the C-clamps holding the boards together so they don't slip away when pinning the backing on. The boards that sit on the top are the boards that get rolled in once you have quilted as far as you can reach. Most often, the ends that get rolled in are the top and bottom of the quilt.

Pin the backing fabric to the strips on the boards. Marg likes to make sure that the top fabric is pinned to the boards too so when pinning the backing on, pin it fairly close to the boards. Little Ron was testing the tautness of it.

Next, lay the batting on top. The quilt I decided to put on the frame is the "Gees Bend Revisited" and since it is fairly small and not going to be entered into a show, I pieced the batting. 

Then of course, comes the top. Here you can see that the quilt top is pinned to the fabric that is attached to the quilt frame. Once everything is pinned (from the middle outward) with quite a few pins, then you undo the C-clamps and tighten everything both ways - making sure you don't tear the fabric. 

And now it's ready to quilt. Normally, with a full-sized quilt, it would be quilted from the middle outward, but I had this idea in mind when I thought about how I was going to quilt this and so I started in the corner. You should leave about a quarter of an inch from the edge since the binding will be going on it after. I chose not to border this and I was going to use masking tape to keep the lines straight but then I figured I would just go for it and eyeball the lines.

And here's my mascot. He's better on the quilt than a cat would be. I just hope he isn't jumping on it when I'm not around. Once I have completed quilting across as far as I can reach, I will show you how to "take a turn."



  1. I knew that little bear would get into mischief. There are some that don't, some that do !

    thanks for showing "how to" Dolores.
    :-) x x x
    Don't let him eat after midnight :-) x x x

  2. Hi Dolores,

    I have only ever made one quilt and did it all on the sewing machine.
    It was great to see how you have done it the old fashion way, and it looks so much better done by hand.
    Thanks for showing us how you do it.

    Happy weekend

  3. I remember both my grandmothers having quilts in the frames and balanced on chairs. One grandmother had a quilt pretty much always in the frames - she and my aunt were both quilters and they spent many afternoons working away on their latest creations. I have one my aunt made, but unfortunately wasn't lucky enough to get one from that grandma. I have two though from my other grandmother.c Not many homes these days have the space to set these frames up.

  4. How nice to see your little apprentice helping you with the frame! Will you be sitting or standing while you quilt?

  5. Great post Dolores! Love to see how you go on with it. That's a cute helper you have there!

  6. It looks very daunting to me spread out like that. I think on my knee it would not seem so big a challenge.

  7. Hi Dolores!!
    A great post! 8-)
    I finally had time to sit and have a good read of this post!!! Thank you so much for showing the process to this point! Very informative! I look forward to your continuation post. Little Ron looks like he was a very studious participant! 8-)
    Question; When your quilt is on a frame like this, can it stand against the wall to be out of the way if need be, or would things shift?
    Thanks for taking the time to post this! 8-)


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