A Simple, Versatile Quilting Frame
|February 17, 2003||in Product Reviews|
A review of
from Heartland Quiltworks Of Canada
The Heartland Quilting Frame (HQF) looks like an oak picture frame on legs. It is a quilting frame in the sense that it stands on the floor. But it works more like a hoop.
What appears to be a single frame is actually two frames, one nesting inside the other. As with the two pieces of a hoop, you put your quilt between the two frames to hold it.
The HQF is remarkably simple to use. It has no rails or thumbscrews to adjust. The legs are permanently attached with hinges to the bottom frame, so the legs are as easy to set up as opening a cabinet door.
The top frame rests on the bottom frame with no need to adjust the size or the tension of either frame. The slanted sides of the frames hold the quilt tightly in place.
The HQF holds your quilt snugly, but it automatically provides enough slack to quilt using a rocking stitch without flinging the needle across your work. To make the tension tighter, just pull on the edges of the fabric outside the frame work-area.
Goldilocks And The Three Chairs
Because there is no height adjustment on the HQF legs, my first challenge was to find just the right chair so I could use the frame comfortably. After looking at my living room furniture and deciding it was too low, I selected a dining room chair.
But the dining room chair proved to be too high. My arm didn’t reach under the quilt top far enough, so I had to lean in to use it.
Next, I chose a kitchen chair because it was a little lower than the dining room chair. That chair worked a little better, but it still was too high.
Finally, I moved back to the living room and found the furniture in there to be just the right height, and much more comfortable.
Hoop To Frame
I began testing with a work in process. I took my current hand-quilting project out of a hoop and put it into the HQF. I was impressed with how easy it was to load, easier than a hoop.
Since the HQF top doesn’t rotate, I taught myself to quilt with my thumb, a task that’s been on my things-to-do list for quite some time. In the beginning, it felt awkward and took a lot of time.
But after an inch or so of quilting, the thumb stitches were quite acceptable in size and evenness, and not far in quality from the quilting done with my finger in the opposite direction. I know that I will be up to speed in no time with some more practice.
One advantage the HQF has over a hoop is that you can put your needle dome, thread, and scissors on your work without them falling off. That’s like having an extra table handy.
The HQF instructions say to quilt a border by moving the project so just three sides of it are held in the frame, leaving the remaining side stretched across the open center of the frame without support.
That approach worked fine. I could quilt easily with the correct tension on the edges without having to sew leaders onto the edges of the quilt.
The Heartland Quilting Frame works well for basted work, too. I like the ease with which I can move the frame around the house to the spot where I want to work.
And this frame doesn’t make me commit a project to the frame until it’s all done. It allows me to remove a project easily to take with me in the car, or to put another project in the frame.
No Basting Required
But the best part of using the Heartland Quilting Frame is that I don’t have to baste a quilt before putting it into the frame. Heartland Quiltworks includes instructions for loading a non-basted quilt sandwich onto the frame.
To get the sandwich ready for the frame, I spread the backing face-down on a bed, smoothing out all the wrinkles.
Next, I carefully placed the batting smoothly on top. Finally, I put the quilt top on the batting, making sure there were no wrinkles and that the top fit evenly on the batting and backing.
To “frame” the sandwich, I folded it according to the instructions and placed it in the center of the bottom frame. I unfolded the quilt and replaced the top frame. Viola! I was ready to quilt in seconds instead of minutes or hours.
No more crawling around on the floor basting! No more drafting your friends to help you baste at the church hall or recreation center!
Great For Basting
But as it happens, the quilt I put in the frame was one that I wanted to machine quilt, not hand quilt. Fortunately, the Heartland Quilting Frame makes a good basting frame, too.
I chose to do pin basting over other methods of basting for a couple reasons. If I failed to do it correctly on my first try, I could easily try again. And I wanted to find out if the size of the pins would affect the frame tension or alignment of the top.
With my sandwich in the HQF, I began pin-basting. I had no problems with the pins, and I was done basting in no time.
Basting was the one time I would like to have had taller legs on the HQF. The legs are a little too short for me when I use the frame standing up for long periods of time.
Fortunately, the work area of 31 inches by 22 inches is small enough to be quick to do and easy to reach. Because I was bent over for such a short time pin-basting each section, it didn’t bother my back in the least.
And A Light Table, Too
The frame stands about 32 inches tall, making it a good height to use as a light table. I put a piece of glass across the top and a light on the floor underneath to trace my applique patterns. I chose a dining room chair for this purpose so I would be a little higher to look down at the surface.
Heartland Quilting Frame only weighs about 15 pounds. It’s real easy to move around. I’ve had it in the living room three times, the dining room twice and in my sewing room several times.
When I’m not using the frame, I fold up the legs and place the frame back in its delivery box, which is only four inches deep, and tuck it away. I could also store it set up as a table, throwing a tablecloth over a removable glass or wood top.
Handy And Versatile
When I first saw the HQF, I thought its many uses would make it a real good choice over individual products that would cost more and take up more space. The HQF is perfect for small houses. And it stores away quickly and easily.
In spite of the lack of size and height adjustments, I found that I really liked this frame. It is so versatile, handy, space efficient, and easy to move around for all kinds of projects.
I like the fact that I don’t have to baste the quilt to put it on the frame. And I don’t have to have a large quilting frame with huge poles to store or take up my sewing room floor.
The Heartland Quilting Frame is made and sold in Canada, so the $299 plus free shipping mentioned on the company’s Web site refers to Canadian dollars. To find the equivalent in US dollars or other currency, use the online Universal Currency Converter.
Where To Buy: Heartland Quilting Frame