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
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
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
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.