Machine quilting frames are designed to enable the sewer to move the machine around the quilt. This produces accurate and professional results. Machine quilting frames have many pieces and attachments that make them very complicated. Professional frames have thousands of parts, made of wood, metal and plastic. It is nearly impossible to build a commercial quality frame at home. Some companies sell framing kits that can be assembled at home to cut down on costs. You can also make a quilting frame from household items that will present similar results.
Makeshift Frame Assembly
A makeshift frame can be made from a removable dustbin base (not the whole dustbin, just the removable base that has wheels), bungee cords, large clamps and a few books. Make sure the dustbin base has wheels. Place the sewing machine onto the dustbin base and secure with the bungee cords. Place the sewing machine onto a long, narrow table. At each end of the table stack one or two books. Lay the quilt over the books and stretch tight. Move the sewing machine forward and place it into sewing position. The quilt should lay resting on the sewing machine base, just under the needle. If the quilt should be lowered or raised, add or take away books.
Kit Assembly Tips
Frame sizes range from small frames designed to make pillow-size quilts and designs to large machines that are capable of handling king-size quilts. Usually the wood frames come disassembled, so they are a good option for do-it-yourself building. If you purchase a kit, first lay out all pieces before starting to build the frame. Skipping this step can cause a lot of trouble if you end up having to return the frame. Read all directions before putting the frame together, and make sure you have all tools necessary. This helps you know how all the pieces should fit together. Most frames are built in this order: table frame, machine slider and finally the machine runner. Keep this in mind as you build the frame.
Most quilting frames are too large to store in a closet. Some models may have the option of folding for storage, but most do not. In general, the best storage option is to find an unused corner in an out-of-the-way place. If you use the makeshift frame, then you can store the dustbin bottom in the same closet where you store your sewing machine.
Caring for a machine quilting frame is easy. If the frame is made of metal or plastic, the only care it needs is occasional dusting. If the frame is made from wood, you may want to provide additional care. Consider the addition of a seal over the wood to protect it from moisture or dry air. Adding a seal will also keep oil from ruining the wood. If you choose to add a seal, a regular furniture seal will work fine. Apply the seal with a paintbrush over the wood and allow to dry for 24 hours before use.
One of the most important parts of machine quilting is keeping the machine level. Quilting frames should be placed on a sturdy, level table. Make sure the table does not rock in any way, otherwise your quilt may become entangled in the machine. Firmly grasp the machine as you work, moving it back and forth across the table. Keep the quilt tight across the frame. Some frames come with rollers to move the quilt quickly without causing wrinkles. Turn the sewing machine off while you move the quilt for safety.