how to use quilting frame

How to use Quilting Frame

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Quilts have three parts; the quilt top, batting, and the backing. These parts need to be stitched perfectly together to make a quilt. For one to make perfect stitches on the fabric, a good stretch on the fabric is required. That’s where the quilting frames come in. Quilting frames hold the quilt fabrics in place, stretching them apart such that there are no fold or creases left on the fabric.

These frames are available in different materials that are wood, plastic, or metal. Most quilters prefer plastic quilting frames because of their lightweight. The metal and wood frames work best with large quilt pieces. Quilting frames also come in varying sizes and can be used for either hand quilting or machine quilting.

In this article, we are going to learn more about using quilting frames for your quilting projects.

How to use a Flynn Quilting Frame

Flynn quilting frames are suitable for both hand and machine quilting. The frames feature a long-arm quilting machine with a quilting hoop.

The Flynn quilting frame comes with 2 large pipes(red), 3 fiberglass rods with adhesive strip, 2 reinforced frame ends, 6 rod ends with knobs, screws, 3 muslin leaderstrips, and a roll of tension ribbon.

Here is how you should use the Flynn frames: –

i) Attach the Permanent Starter Strips

Step -1: Lay the leader strips on a flat surface. Take one rod(A) and position it onto the leader strip. The adhesive on the rod should be at the edge of the leader strip.

Step -2: Uncover half of the adhesive strip and roll the rod(A) onto the leader strip. Once it has attached, roll the leader strip on the rod up to 31/4 inches at the edge. The rod should guide you to mark the starting point on the leader strip. Mark the center line by measuring 2ft from the end of the rod. Repeat the same with the other two rods, B and C.

Step -3: Mark the edges on the top and back to keep the tension equal. You can lay the quilt top 1 inch from the top edge of the back. If the top has no seems to guide you to make the markings, you can mark them yourself on the top and back. That will ensure that there is equal tension. 

Step -4: Mark the center of your back, lay the lining at the center line of the leader strip on rod A.

Step -5: Start stitching your back to the line you marked on the leader strip on rod A. You can leave an inch on the leader strip before you start sewing. Tape the back to the table for easy working.

Step -5: Roll your back up on rod A and attach the end to rod C in the same manner. To attach, place the center line on the other end of your back on the center line of the leader strip of rod C and stitch the back to the leader strip. Roll the back to the rod and set the 2 rods aside.

Step -6: Attach the quilt top to rod B, bring the leader strip’s center line, and attach it to the edge.

Step -7: Now it’s time to lay your batting. Lay a table cloth on your working surface, leave the top on the batting, then roll the two pieces together, applying some tension to keep the rods tight.

ii) Layer the Quilt and Assemble the Frame

Step -1: Attach quilt top and batting to the back at rod A. Line the center of the top at one inch on the back and stitch the top and the batting to the back. Stitch just through your top, batting, and backing without stitching to the leader strip.

Step -2: Slide the rod end to the fiberglass tubes and screw them onto the tube. Do not screw so close to the tubes. Repeat the process with the other rods.

Step -3: Attach the frame end and ensure that the teeth match with those of the rod ends. Attach the other frame on the other side.

Step -4: Roll an inch of the quilt to rod A and tighten both ends of the rod. Go ahead and pull the battling on the rod band’s right-hand side and the backing on rod C.

iii) Slide the Frame into the Sewing Machine

Step -1: Here, you will remove the left end frames to easily slide the quilt under the foot attachment of your sewing machine. Replace the end frames after doing so and check to ensure that they lay flat before tightening them.

Step -2: You can now attach the tension ribbons at the slots located at the bottom of the frame end and pin them to the 3 quilt layers. Next, pull the other end of the ribbon and pin it to itself at the spots on the back of the frame.

Step -3: Bring the bottom thread to the top to start quilting. Do not grip the frame tightly, but instead, guide it by the seaming rail with your finger underneath it. The red 24-inch pipes should carry the weight of the quilts.

Step -1: When you get to the center of the quilt, you can reposition the pipes carrying the weight to the other side of the frame. If you find your quilt not moving efficiently, place some weight onto the other side of the frame.

Step -4: Once you through with the quilts, secure your thread, remove the side tension ribbons, and then release the knobs on the sides of the frames.

iv) Working on another section of the quilt

Step -1: Roll the quilt you have already worked on, rod A and don’t roll too far to avoid overlapping the cropping area. Then go ahead and tighten the ends of rod A. tighten the right knobs of rod B and C.

Step -2: Then lastly, you can replace the tension ribbons on the sides and start working on the next section.

How to use a Hand Quilting Frame

Hand quilting involves sewing quilt layers by hand with a thread and needle. Quilters use a quilting frame to secure the quilt, which exerts tension on the fabric. Setting the quilt on the frame is quite simple, and one ends up with a well-laid quilt.

So, here is how to use a hand quilting frame: –

Materials you will need

  • Quilting layers, i.e., Quilt top, batting, and the backing fabric
  • A quilt frame
  • A washable fabric marking pen/pencil
  • Safety Pins.

Step -1: Before you stitch the layers together, mark the quilting design on the quilt top. Then join the quilt top, batting, and backing with safety pins.

Step -2: Unscrew the bolts on your quilting frame to a thickness that will fit your quilt.

Step -3: Place the quilt over the frame’s inner hoop, with the right side up.

Step -4: Having laid your quilt onto the quilting frame, check to ensure no creases are left on the fabric. The quilt should be flat and straight.

Step -5: Place the outer hoop of your frame and press it downwards such that the quilt is in between the outer and inner hoop.

Step -5: Next, tighten the bolts.

Step -6: Confirm that there are no creases left on the fabric, then lightly press the quilt’s center downwards. The quilt should not be too loose or too tight either. It should be flat and easy to work on with a needle.

Step -7: You can then start stitching your quilt. After you finish working on one section, loosen the bolts, remove the outer hoop, and position the quilt to the next working area.

Step -8: Keep working like that until you through with the whole quilt.

How to use a Wooden Quilting Frame

Wooden quilting frames are often termed as old-fashioned and are made with softwoods. These frames are designed with rails that pin down your quilt. The rails come in different lengths with two joint metal pieces that have holes in them. That way, you can pin your quilt down onto the joints.

What you will need:

  • Quilting frame
  • Scissors
  • Thread and needles
  • C clamps

Step -1: Take the feet of your quilt frame and join them together in an X pattern.

Step -2: Move the U-shaped slot and put it into place firmly at the center of your stand.

Step -3: Push the feet to the size of your quilt. The shorter boards should be at the notches(square-cut) at the top of the stand. The longer boards should overlap on the top side.

Step -4: Take your fabric and pin it with the right side facing down into the corners. Roll out the quilt batting and then lay the quilt top down with the right side facing up. You should ensure the fabric and batting are cut to the same size.

Step -5: Pin the three quilt layers to one side of the quilt with tacks fitted 6-8 inches apart. Pull and pin the layers on the other side, fitting the tacks in the same distance. Use the same style used to fit the bottom and top in fitting the sides too.

Step -6: Loosen the C clamps on one side at the top and bottom once you finish quilting on one section. Then roll the frame toward the center by holding it tightly by the sides.

Step -7: Refasten the clamps and start working on the new section. Do not pull the fabric too tight.

Tips and tricks

There are some tips and tricks that will make your quilting journey more enjoyable

Step -1: You will need to prepare your sewing machine for the task. Different quilting techniques require another type of presser foot and machine setting. Ensure you go through the instructions manual provided.

Step -2: Work from one side of a quilt to the other, i.e., either the left or the right.

Step -3: If your machine’s deck doesn’t extend to the head, use two pipes, one near the machine and the other moving from side to side for balance.

Step -3: Stitch the fabric towards yourself but not away from yourself.

Step -4: Always run your machine fast. Moving too slow increases the chances of your needles breaking. If you run the machine fast, ensure that the frame is moving slower.

Step -5: Make our preferred pattern on the quilt top before loading the quilt.

Step -6: Use the correct height of the chair and table. An armless secretary office chair is good.

Step -7: Ensure that your back is 6 inches longer than the top and the batt is 4-5 inches longer than the top.

Step -8: Before you start to quilt, you can make a scrap project on a piece of paper to help you memorize the design you want.

Step -9: If you don’t have safety pins, you can secure the rolls with bicycle clips.

Step -10: If you are new to the quilting world, you can start with the most straightforward form of quilting, which is straight-line quilting.

Step -11: Always remember to secure your thread at the start and the end of stitching to prevent the chances of ending up with unstitched points.

Step -12: If you basted the quilt together, ensure you remove the pins to not stitch over them. Your needle might break, and its fragments fly to your eyes.

Step -13: You can make your own DIY frame by purchasing inexpensive materials from the nearest hardware.

Step -14: If your fingers feel dry, cover them with a rubber fingertip that can be purchased at an office supply store.

Benefits of using a quilting frame

It’s incredible how quilting frames make quilting projects easy. In addition to that, it reduces physical strain, making the process more fun.

  • They are affordable

Although some frames might be expensive, the price is nothing compared to their convenience when quilting. Their price is worth the assistance they offer.

  • Completing projects faster

A quilting frame saves you time and lots of energy. This is because you won’t have to keep turning and moving the quilt when working.

  • Reducing frustrations

There’s nothing that can be as frustrating as hand quilting without a frame. But with the frames, the fabric you work on will be well stretched, making it easy to work on.

  • Transforms a working space

Having a dedicated quilting workspace increases productivity. It also makes the whole quilting process enjoyable since there will be fewer distractions in your space.


If you are a quilter, you will agree that having a quilting frame in your home is very essential. Whether you will be quilting by hand or sewing with a machine, the quilting frame offers excellent convenience. With a quilting frame, you will always be eager to work and experiment on new quilting projects.

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