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Monday, February 6, 2012

What's in my Frame

By Pippa Moss

I am still hand quilting my large purple and white Hawaiian quilt, Pilani. I have outlined all parts of the quilt and am now filling in the remaining echo quilting lines. I hope to have it completed by July so that it can go off to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham in August.

I use a Q-snap floor frame which has worked well for me. The frame is at the right height to sit at comfortably, and rest my forearms on the frame edges. It is light enough to move around the room - it lives in a corner!
You can see in this picture that the echo quilting is not marked, I just insert a line of pins (using a small ruler to measure the 1/2") and use those as a guide.

You can see more of the Pilani pattern in this photo - wool wadding is being used and it quilts up very nicely.

Perhaps you can see the quilting stitches more clearly in this picture. These frames do not last forever - my first lasted about 20 years, then the plastic gave up and I had to buy another! Luckily, I found one cheaply on Ebay. The quilts do have to be carefully basted before using this frame - I do it with lots of safety pins to hold the three layers firmly in place. The plastic caps allow you to reposition the quilt freely and also to adjust the tension.

I do have two other frames that I am meaning to try - I just haven't had time just yet.... this is a traditional British frame, it is very simple and consists of two long poles with webbing and two "swords" or uprights that go through two slots in either end of the long poles. The idea is to sew the backing onto the webbing fore and aft, then lay the batting or wadding on top of the backing. The top is also sewn onto the webbing at the front edge - then the far side is "needled in " or secured with pins or needles. As the quilting was completed in one width, the quilt was rolled up and a new section secured with pins, quilting across until the quilt was complete. This particular frame is not full size - it is only 48" wide and the cross pieces are about a yard long. As I am so interested in antique quilts I will certainly be making a small wholecloth quilt on this frame. The webbing that is on there now is hession or burlap and is a bit rotten, so I will have to remove the tacks and replace it with new webbing.

The other frame is similar but slightly more complex, as it is a folding frame; the two sides are like an X with the quilt held across the top. I think this dates from the 50's or 60's although it could possibly be older. Not sure how big this frame is - I keep saying that I will get it out and assemble it, but have not gotten around to it.

I also have smaller hoops both round and square and these are fine for quilting - most of my earlier quilts were quilted with hoops. I always advise students to see how interested they are in quilting before spending lots of money - simple tools are just fine when you are starting out - then when you know that you are "bitten" you can start spending more money!


  1. Oeeeh, winner in frames! 3 Frames! I love your traditional frames, and would love to see them in use. Your Q-snap frame is something I borrow from my Quiltmom. She and I use it for basting, so I don't have to crawl over the floor. Then my quilt goes on my frame.

    About your quilt: It's gorgeous! And I love the loft of the batting. I keep my fingers crossed for you that you will finish it in time. Birmingham is a great show!

  2. beautiful quilting! very, very lovely work.:)

  3. beautiful looking quilt, will love to see the whole quilt when done.

  4. serious drool here, i love hawaiian quilts and yours is beautiful; a hand quilter's paradise!

  5. Beautiful work, now I REALLY want to go to Birmingham this year. Looking forward to see the whole quilt.

  6. Beautiful! I, too, would love to see your other frames when you set them up. I have a Grace Z44 I use to baste my large quilts and an Ulmer for my small ones. I also quilt in a plastic PVC type hoop b/c that's what I had when I transitioned from cross-stitching to quilting. I had to replace the clamps on mine after about 20 years, but was able to order them directly from Q-snap for very little cost. I enjoyed reading about what's in your hoop.


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