A quilt frame holds the layers of a quilt taut, allowing the quilter to easily work on a quilt without making folds or ripples in the quilt. Quilting was first introduced to Europe in the 11th Century by the Crusaders, who brought back quilted jackets from their exploits overseas. The warmth provided by the extra layer of batting in between the two layers of fabric in the jackets was alluring, and eventually lead to the development of quilts to be used for bedding. However, these early quilters faced a major obstacle-the thickness of two layers of fabric, plus batting, made quilts very difficult to stitch.
Fortunately, needlework had already been popularized in Europe and the hoop frame was being used to help sew fine stitches. The hoop frame was adapted for quilts by increasing the size so that it could hold a quilt and keep it tight enough to let the need be pushed through. This super sized hoop frame became the quilting frame and is still used today.
By the "Pioneer Era" in America, the quilting frame had become greatly improved and vital to quilters. The typical quilting frame of this era was made of four beams of wood that formed a square or rectangle. The quilting frame was sometimes made with legs, resembling a table, to keep the quilting frame at a comfortable quilting position. A heavy strip of cloth was attached to the two beams running lengthwise so that the quilt could be pinned or basted to the beams, keeping the quilt taut. The ends of the quilt were wrapped around the other two wooden beams. Thus, a large section of the quilt was kept taut and accessible. "Quilting Bees" were a common scene where four or more women would gather around the quilting frame and make a quilt together.
The commercialization of the quilting frame began sometime in the early 20th Century when mail order companies began selling quilting frames.
Modern Quilting Frames
Quilting frames have come a long way over the years. There are specialized quilting frames for machine quilting, hand quilting, and some quilting frames are "multifunctional", meaning they can be used for both machine and hand quilting.
Some popular features available on hand quilting frames include frames which can easily be collapsed and stored, and models which can be adjusted for height and tilt. Many quilting frames feature no-baste designs, making it easy to mount your quilt without needing to sew it to the frame. Mounted lamps are also a popular feature, adding more light and visibility to your project.
Machine quilting frames allow you to turn your sewing machine into a machine quilting system. Machine quilting frames give your sewing machine mobility by moving along tracks. The exact system depends on the manufacturer, but one common mechanism is to place the sewing machine on a plate, which rides along tracks on a frame using ball-bearing rollers. These systems give your sewing machine mobility in all directions. Some models allow you to quilt from either side of the machine. Machine quilting frames are ideal for free motion quilting or template guided quilting. Machine quilting frames are also available with features such as height adjustability, no-baste designs, and mounted lamps.
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| October 22, 2017
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