Quilting Frames

Written by Rebecca Russell
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When the average person looks at a handmade quilt, very often, the actual quilting gets overlooked. The untrained eye goes directly to the fabric or the pattern but does not dwell on the true beauty found in every piece. Quilting is the act of stitching the front and back pieces of a quilt together, with batting in the middle to form the insulation. This, however, is the simplified definition.

The Function of Quilt Frames

Quilting involves intricate and detailed needlework and takes a great deal of time, particularly if it is done by hand. Some people will quilt in a certain shape, such as a star or bunches of grape leaves. Others will simply choose a pattern or design and carry it throughout the piece. While piecework is important to the body of the quilt, the true art lies in how the quilting is executed.

These days, many people quilt by machine. This allows quilts to be mass-produced for everyday usage. The more prized pieces, however, are hand quilted, which calls for use of a quilting frame. Old-fashioned frames consisted of four long pieces of wood, which were configured in such a way as to stretch taut the entire unfinished quilt. Women would often come and quilt together for social reasons, and if the room was large enough, up to seven women could generally sit around and comfortably quilt in the same frame.

Alternatives to the Quilt Frame

Modern hand quilt makers often use a tool that is a variation of the quilting frame--the quilting hoop. Hoops are much smaller than their predecessors and look very much like a large needlework frame. Sections of the quilt are stretched tightly into the hoop and the project is completed one small piece at a time. This allows the quilt maker to be able to work in a smaller area, rather than taking over a whole room with a quilting project.

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