Sunday, April 4, 2010

Quilting Frame

OK, Jim this post is just for you...because I love you like that!

This is my B-Line quilting frame. Bran bought it for me last year - and I LOVE it. My only complaint is that the throat of my machine is too small, so when I get to the bottom edge of the quilt the rows of free motion are much much more narrow than the top. (This isn't the fault of the frame though, it means I need to get a new sewing machine with a wider throat.) This really bothered me at first, but once the quilt is finished and washed it's much harder to see the little narrow rows.

There are three bars. One for all three layers of the quilt, one for the quilt top, and one for the quilt bottom. I actually got a 4th bar for "free" that's intended for the batting, but it's actually just as easy to let the batting sit in a pile on the floor.

All three layers of the quilt top (at the top of the quilt) are pin basted to a leader that is attached to the bar that sits within the machine's throat. Then the top is pin basted (at the bottom of the quilt) to a leader. And the quilt bottom (at the bottom of the quilt) is pin basted to another leader. This makes up all three bars. Using the bars you create tension on the quilt from top to bottom.

The clamps are used to create tension from side to side. No basting, pin or otherwise, is needed on the sides, though I find that a couple of pins on each side helps.

The sewing machine sits in what I call the cradle. The cradle is two parts. The top part sits on wheels and rails that run vertically and the bottom part sits on wheels and rails that run horizontally along the length of my dining room table.

You attach your sewing machine's foot pedal to the side and squeeze it with your hand to run the machine. This actually bothers my wrist quite a bit so I only do one or two passes at a time and rest. I could quilt an entire quilt top in a day if I really really really wanted too...but I usually spend 4-5 days working to give my hand and wrist a break. I think they sell some kind of button you could use instead of squeezing the foot pedal, but I'm cheap. lol.

You mentioned that you were doing some free motion without a frame. I actually liked doing it that way better, but I didn't like that my quilt back would shift around and I'd get these big folded pieced of back that I couldn't fix or "ease" in. I still do baby quilts without the frame though, but I spray baste baby quilts. The best piece of advice I got for quilting without the frame was to wear gardening gloves. The little stickiness on the finger pads of the gloves make manipulating the material around much easier. Oh, and another good tip was to increase the top thread tension as well.

Regardless, you should come visit me down here in the South and play with my toys!


Wendy said...

So fun to get the tour! I hope to have something like this someday... until then I just have to wrestle with my quilts!
I love your newest quilt!

Eily said...

Thanks, Wendy! My local quilt shop sold me the frame for half off. $400.00 is still a lot of money, but was much better than $800.00! And, even better I haven't had buyer's remorse. :) Thanks for the kind comment about the quilt too - it's really growing on me and I think when it's finally completed I'm going to have a hard time giving it away. :(

Jim Webb said...

Thank you for the photos, notes and text. I'm sure other people find this interesting as well but I'm especially happy to finally understand how that contraption works. AND being proud owners of one of your quilts, it's mo special (for me) knowing how it was done.

I'm glad I read your blog because I couldn't figure out what the little dark box is in the photo (the food pedal) and thought it was some kind of monitor. Duh. But can you not extend the foot pedal to reach your feet? I can't imagine holding that down by hand for more than about 40 seconds. OH Lord, no.

Until tonight I only tried this kind of stitching a few times on pieces of test fabric. But tonight I went nuts on a real quilt. I'm just "sampling" stuff and it looks like scribbling. It might be a mess but it's starting to look sort of cool to me. Film at 11.

Thanks again. I've learned a lot from you and always enjoy looking in. Too bad we didn't plan to come to your house and drive to Florida together. I could have come early or stayed late to sew!

Eily said...

About the foot pedal, Bran and I were just discussing that yesterday. You can't really use the foot pedal on the floor because you walk the width of the quilt as your quilting. I have found though, that if I concentrate on relaxing my hand it doesn't bother me as much, but then I'm concentrating on my hand and not creating amoebas on the quilt. lol. They do sell stitch regulators, for way too much, that would solve that problem.

Oy, too bad we didn't think of somehow fitting you guys (or just you) visiting before/after our trip. grrrr.

Sonia said...

wow, so cool! where down south do you live? i'm in TN.

Eily said...

Hi Sonia! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. :) I live near New Orleans...too bad we're not closer, I'm always looking for new friends. :)

Kaelin said...

this is awesome! so you're saying i can show up at your house with my basted, unquilted king size quilt and hang out for about 48 hours?

Eily said...

Awww - you can come hang out anytime. lol. However, the frame's max (at least how I have it set up) is about for a 72" width. boo. You could still hang out and quilt by hand. Bwaaaahahaha. lol. :)

Anne Marie Dwyer said...

There are speed regulators that cost no more than $50 (I got one for $20.) and with that you won't have to press the foot pedal!

They don't keep your stitches even but that costs $500 (as you know).