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How to Hand Quilt Without Using Quilting Frames

Quilt Patterns, Quilting

I come from a long line of seamstresses, my great grandmother, grandmother, aunts and my own mother who handed down the skill to me. Great grandmother and grandmother sewed out of sheer necessity, my aunt and mother began their career as seamstresses for the same reason, but in later years developed their talents into a more lucrative career by making quilts and quilting other folks quilt tops for profit.

Quilters never throw away a piece of fabric, no matter how small that piece might be, it can be used in a quilt. Dresses used to be made from the coveted White Lily flour sacks, that came in various cotton prints. The floral print bags were carefully washed and kept until enough of the same flour sack fabric was saved to make a dress with, any leftover scraps went into the quilt bag for later use. The tiniest pieces of fabrics were ‘paper pieced’, a piece of newspaper was cut and used as a template, the tiny scrap fabric was then sewn directly onto the newspaper, and each precise ‘paper piece’ would be fitted together and expertly sewn into an intricate pattern. The paper would be removed when the quilt top was completed., and the quilting process would begin.

I learned to sew on my mother’s Singer peddle sewing machine, which still works perfectly and I have displayed in my home. Peddle sewing machines gave way to electric sewing machines, sergers and long arm quilting machines.

The art of hand quilting is almost a lost art, understandably so It is time consuming and labor intensive, but a hand quilted quilt is something unique that you put a lot of yourself into and will last for decades, even centuries, if properly cared for.

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In my foremother’s time, quilting frames were considered a luxury, a luxury that they could neither afford nor had space for. Again, out of necessity, they developed a method of quilting that did not require quilting frames. That method was used by my aunt and mother, taught to me and I will share it with you. I, like them, have never owned quilting frames, and have been quilting for my family, as well as for profit, for several years.

The only things you will need are a bed and some large safety pins. Nothing to invest in, nothing to have to find room for.

Prepare your quilt just as you would if you were using quilting frames. Layer your finished quilt top, filling and backing together, basting or pinning them together. I do this step on a clean floor and use full 64oz soda bottles to provide weight on one end and keep the materials taunt as I pin. When that step is finished, start at one end and roll it up, place the roll on any size bed. Unroll about 3 feet of the quilt, then secure the quilt to the bed by placing large, open safety pins near the rolled up portion directly through the quilt into the mattress. Find a chair that is a comfortable height for you in proximity to the bed height, and you will now be able to start quilting on the 3 feet of quilt that you have unrolled. Start at one corner, spread the quilt in your lap, by placing your elbows on top of the quilt as you sew, you will create just the right amount of tension on the material. Continue sewing across the quilt, sewing as far into the unrolled portion as you can, moving your chair as needed for comfort. When you reach the opposite corner of the quilt, remove the safety pins that are holding the quilt to the bed and roll up the portion that you have just quilted, unroll another 3 feet and repeat the process, holding the now quilted, rolled up portion in your lap. If you are working with a large quilt, after you reach the halway point in the quilting process, you can place the completed, rolled up portion on the bed and pin it down and begin quilting from the center out, that way you will not have a large roll in your lap.

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This method will work with any size quilt, on any size bed. My specialty is baby sized quilts, and I use a twin sized bed in my spare bedroom for my quilting. It works equally as well for larger sizes. The quilt will be easy to roll up and put away if the bed is needed during the quilting process.

I good place to find free quilt patterns is- http://www.freequiltpatterns.info/QuiltCategories/FreeBabyQuiltPatterns.htm

Happy quilting!