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Choosing a Frame

                                  CHOOSING A MACHINE QUILTING FRAME

EVERYWHERE, USA - There are a number of things to consider when you are considering the purchase of a machine quilting frame.  In this article, I will cover the basic premise or how the frame works and the specific areas to evaluate when comparing frames.

The basic premise

The basic idea for a machine quilting frame is the same for all manufacturers. Your machine sits on top of 2 platforms called carriages. The bottom carriage sits on a track on a table or frame to allows your sewing machine to roll from one end of the table or frame to the other. The top carriage sits on the bottom carriage and rolls on tracks.  This allows the machine to go forward and backward across a table or platform. These two carriage form the X and Y axis which allow you to make a complete circle.  

Most of the frames now have handles on the front of the frame to allow you to quilt from either side.  These handles on the front allow you to do free motion quilting.  Pantographs are done from the back of the frame.  Access to all sides of the frame is key to easy loading of your quilt on the frame.

Originally these frames were designed to use your own home sewing machine.  But the home quilters began searching for more throat space and now tend to use the 8 ˝ inch throated machines or larger.

What do I want in a frame?

1. Portable verses stationary - Do I want to have the option to take it down and store it?  How easy is it to put up and take down?  Do I have a space to dedicate to the frame?

2. Quilt size--What size quilts will I be quilting? Does the frame accommodate all sizes of quilts. Do I have to purchase extensions for king-size quilts?  If so, what is the cost?

Manufacturers vary on their definition of king size and it can be quite confusing.  Be sure the usable quilting space matches the size quilts you make!  Be sure to leave room to service your machine!


3. Pantographs--All frames let you do pantographs.    All the frames have styluses, either laser or fixed.  Both work equally well. Some frames let you sit or stand to do pantographs.

4. Machines - What machine will I use on the frame? Do I have sufficient usable throat space?  Can I drop or cover the feed-dogs?  How will I control the speed/stitch length?

5.  Stitch Regulation- Is my machine compatible with the Quilter's Cruise Control which can provide stitch regulation?

6. Future uses - What is the space between the rollers?  Will it accommodate a larger sewing (i.e. the HQ 16 and the stitch regulator)?  Will it require an expansion kit?  If so what is the cost.  Will it work with the PC Quilter? Do I have to purchase an adapter?

7. Ease of quilting and visibility—Do I have good access for loading the quilts?  Can you see the needle when standing or sitting?  Is there an ergonomic quilting position?  Where are your hands when sitting?

Construction of the frame

1. Frame - What is the frame made of? If it is wood, is it finished?  Is it sturdy or does it vibrate?  What will break or wear out? What is the warranty? Is the manufacturer a quilter?

2. Tracks - What are the tracks made of? Are they continuous? How do they extend? What prevents them from slipping? What keeps them straight?

3. Rollers - What are the rollers made of? How do they extend? What prevents them from slipping? Are they reinforced? How easy is it to advance the quilt?

4. Leaders – Are the leaders included?  How do the leaders attach? How difficult is it to change leaders?

5. Tension - How difficult is it to adjust the tension on the quilt sides?  Pins?  Clamps?

For answers to these questions:

 Come see us in the store or at a show.


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Quilting Power by: ROSIE THE QUILTER