The 8 Best Quilting Frames
This wiki has been updated 23 times since it was first published in December of 2016. Quilting frames come in a variety of sizes and styles to meet your space and crafting needs, from basic, handheld lap designs to elaborate floor models with features that streamline the whole process. They can, for instance, take some of the hassles out of basting and help you achieve straighter lines and more even stitches. We've included a few portable options, too, for the crafter on the move. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
April 03, 2019:
Choosing a quilting frame usually comes down to two variables, size and cost, so we've tried to cover a range for quilters with various needs. For many, we still think the Grace Start-Right EZ3 and Grace SR-2 are fine choices, with the latter being the more expensive option. That's because the SR-2 is made for use with a sewing machine, whereas the EZ3 is not. We also added another machine-ready model, the Juki Grace Q-Zone. It actually includes the Juki TL2000Qi, which helps explain its rather hefty price tag — that, and the brand's reputation for quality products. If these larger frames are all outside of the budget, we'd suggest the Dritz Quilt-N-Go or the Edmunds Quilter's Wonder Hoop. Of course, they're for working on smaller areas at one time, but this makes them easier to store, too. Finally, we removed the Edmunds Stitcher's Wonder. Geared more toward cross-stitch, it can potentially be used for very small quilting projects; it doesn't feel as stable as the bigger Quilter's Wonder, however, making the latter the better choice.
A Frame Of Reference
As you work, you may need a little time to figure out the best way to maneuver everything and what feels most comfortable on your hands and arms.
Quilting can be a relaxing, almost meditative hobby — at least, until you're wrestling with pieces of fabric more than 90 inches long on a side in the attempt to join them all together neatly. That's why there are quilting frames. These devices hold the layers of your quilt taut so that you can sew through them without the hassle, curses, and weeping. And it makes no difference if you prefer to quilt by hand or machine, as there are models suitable for each.
Quilting frames for hand quilters come in two varieties: those for one person and those made to accommodate many people working simultaneously. You might hear these referred to as lap frames and floor frames, respectively. The former are generally smaller and may be square or round, while the latter tend to be rectangular and take up quite a bit of space. And, of course, there's no reason one person can't work on a large floor frame by him or herself.
There also happen to be two types of frames for machine quilting; your choice depends on the type of machine with which you'll be working. If it's a regular sewing machine, you'll use a general sewing machine frame. If you use a longarm machine, you'll need a frame built to accommodate this set-up. Although home longarm quilting isn't as common as regular machine quilting due to the high cost of longarm equipment, you're still likely to see plenty of options for both types.
No matter the type of quilting frame your personal situation requires, it's important to remember that learning to set up and quilt on a frame can take a little practice, especially if you'll be basting together the quilt "sandwich" on it. As you work, you may need a little time to figure out the best way to maneuver everything and what feels most comfortable on your hands and arms. Once you get the hang of it, though, you'll be reaping the benefits of easier, smoother quilting.
Selecting A Quilting Frame
After you've assessed which type of quilting frame you need, whether for hand or machine use, you'll have a few other considerations to keep in mind. First and foremost is probably the size. Remember that you'll not only have to keep it somewhere while you're working on your quilt, but also store it when it's not in use. Your strength is important here, as well. A larger wooden frame and quilt can become quite heavy, so you need to make sure the weight is something you can handle.
And speaking of materials, the frame's composition can have an effect both on durability and usability.
And speaking of materials, the frame's composition can have an effect both on durability and usability. Wood and metal frames may last longer thanks to the sturdy nature of these materials, while PVC or light plastics could potentially warp or crack when exposed to heat or rough use. The trade-off is that a plastic frame will often weigh less and be easier to store, as many quickly break down into several pieces.
Then, there's the cost. For some, a frame is an investment that will see repeated use, while for others it's a small luxury that may only be used for one or two quilts a year. As with many purchases, if you're going to use your frame often, it's probably better to choose the highest quality model you can afford. For the occasional quilter, a budget frame is likely just fine.
Finally, and perhaps most obviously, if you're choosing a machine quilting frame, you'll want to ensure that it will work with your sewing or longarm machine. The frame's manufacturer will usually include measurements, brand and model names, or both, information that will help you determine compatibility.
The Celebrated Art Of Quilting
Quilting is an incredibly old form of craft; the oldest surviving quilt, called the Tristan Quilt, dates back to the 14th century, although it's assumed that quilts were being produced longe before this. While quilters throughout the ages may not have had the quilting frames, longarm machines, and extensive fabric selection of today's artists, many of the pieces they produced were marvelous.
Lord began the quilt the day that her home state of Tennessee seceded, stitching an American flag in the center as an act of loyalty to a united nation.
Take the Quilts of Gee's Bend, for example. This collection of highly regarded pieces is the work of several generations of women from Gee's Bend, a remote African American community located in Alabama. Starting around the middle of the 19th century, these gifted women began creating "improvisational" quilts, uninfluenced by the patterned regularity common to many of the quilts we're familiar with even today. Fresh, innovative, and quite simply stunning, these quilts are considered a rich contribution not just to African American art but also to the history of the United States.
The Gee's Bend quilts aren't the only famous quilts in American history. Another beloved quilt that speaks of the nation's past is Mary Lord's Civil War Quilt, which now belongs to the Smithsonian. Lord began the quilt the day that her home state of Tennessee seceded, stitching an American flag in the center as an act of loyalty to a united nation. She and her father left their home so that he could avoid service in the Confederate Army, and the quilt traveled with them; an autograph piece, it eventually collected the signatures of some of the most prominent men of the time, including Ulysses S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln.
Of course, not all famous quilts are old, nor are they all the product of women. Globally respected textile designer Kaffe Fassett, for example, is known for a range of quilts that each exhibit complex and jaw-dropping use of color. Museums across the globe continue to exhibit his work, and he and his design team have authored dozens of books so that fans can bring his designs to life on their own home quilting frames.