Tuesday, 20 October 2009


I was so excited!   I found (bought) plans on-line to build a machine quilting frame.  I've never really enjoyed trying to quilt on my little machine.  Especially bigger quilts - struggling to maneuver the whole thing around on the sewing table.  Bits always fall off, the quilt gets caught on corners, and it's darn heavy!  So when I saw this, I thought it was perfect.  Use my current machine, setup a quilting frame, and I'd be set to go!  And for much less than a store bought frame was going to set me back.

I measured everything, and rearranged my (small) sewing room to make sapce for this.  It could work, although space would be tight.  I bought the necessary parts, and set to work a couple weeks ago.  I was going to do a 10 foot frame, but decided against it after seeing the table in the room.

I cut a foot off and made it 9 feet long - still plenty long enough for my quilts, as 80-85 inches is about the max I do for a queen-size.  The first thing I noticed is how wonder it was to have a table behind my sewing table.  Putting borders on a quilt was suddenly easier, as the quilt sat happily on the extra table instead of falling to the floor.  On Saturday, I completed the rest of the frame, including the roller bars, and set it all up!

I've been saving my quilts to do on this new table, so I immediately dug one out and loaded it up on the machine.   Sweet!  No pinning, no basting, no trying to find enough floor space to lay out a quilt and then crawling around on my knees with pins.

I knew that using my standard sewing machine was going to result in a relatively small quilting path, but I measured and calculated and decided it would be about 4-5 inches, which wasn't too bad (and is about what I have with my shove & push method anyway).  I even reduced the size of the roller bars, to ensure I had as much leaway as possible.

So, I started in on a baby quilt - about 30 inches square.   Things started great - but by the time I got to the end of that 30 inches, I was down to about a 2 inch quilting area :(  I had not expected to lose space so quickly as the quilt progressed.  There is no way I can use this for any reasonably sized quilt. 

I did realize later that the quilt I chose was made with a much heavier fabric than usual - so that accounts for some of the excess.   I will probably give this another chance, with a more traditional set of quilt fabrics, to see how much difference that makes.  But I'm pretty sure at this point that nothing over about 40" is going to be possible with this setup.   Very disappointing, unfortunately.


  1. I'm in awe! I can barely use a screwdriver! Great job! You'll be churning out quilts now!

  2. I borrowed a friend's Flynn quilt frame to quilt a queen sized flannel (front and back). I think I had a 2 or 3 inch quilt path towards the end. Made me swear never again! I don't know how to help....but I'm envious of that great big nine foot table in your sewing room. I've got a border to attach that I'm dreading. Good luck.

  3. I have a long arm, and know exactly what you mean when you say you run out of room. I often load quilts lengthwise so I can minimize how much room is taken up in the rollers. Most my quilts are large queens, so you know what I mean! But I also use those rollers to hang tops on to measure and add the borders. Enough room to lay it all out flat. Although I have cut it wrong a time (or two) too short!