What Is A Quilting Frame and Why Should You Get One

What Is A Quilting Frame and Why Should You Get One

A quilting frame is a great addition to any craft room. It’s a really handy tool for any quilter, whether you’re a novice or a professional. There are a huge variety of quilting frames on the market, but which type is best? What are the benefits of using a quilting frame? 

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about purchasing and using a quilting frame. 

What Is A Quilting Frame? 

A quilting frame is a large structure that holds your quilt top, your batting, and your backing in place. The frame helps to hold all the elements in place and helps pull the layers taut as you work. Quilting frames are especially helpful for those who choose to quilt by hand, but there are also a variety of quilting frames designed to be used with sewing machines.

Quilting frames can be made from a variety of different materials. Quilt frames have been used since the time of pioneers in America. Traditionally, they were made from wood, but most nowadays are made from lightweight, flexible plastic. Most modern frames are designed to be portable and easily disassembled. 

Types Of Quilting Frames 

There are two main categories when it comes to quilting frames: the type made for hand quilting and the type made for machine quilting. Within those two categories, there are a few different varieties. The type you select depends on personal preference and the type of quilting you usually prefer to do. 

Hand Quilting Frames 

Within the category of hand quilting frames, there are two main subcategories. The first is a floor quilting frame. Floor quilting frames are the largest type of quilting frames, with many being large enough for multiple quilters to work on a single quilt at the same time. This is what makes them such a popular choice for quilting circles. 

Floor quilting frames are usually designed with a built-in rolling mechanism, so users can keep all the layers of the quilt together as they work on it. Smaller floor quilting frames have bars to hold and elevate the quilt as it’s being worked on. These smaller models are designed to be portable and take up less space. 

The second main type of hand quilting frame is a lap quilt frame. These are a great option for those who prefer quilting on their own, rather than in a group. The most basic type of lap frame is essentially a big wooden hoop, which holds the layers of the quilt taut as they’re stitched together. Other types are more similar to a floor quilting frame, but they’re small enough to fit in your lap. 

Sewing Machine Quilting Frames 

Similar to hand quilting frames, there are two main categories of sewing machine quilting frames. The first is the long arm quilting frame, designed to be used with a long arm sewing machine. Long arm sewing machines are designed for quilting and other industrial sewing purposes and have much more throat space to maneuver the quilt through. Those that make quilts for commercial purposes tend to prefer quilting with a long arm machine and using a long arm quilting frame.

Long arm quilting frames are often incredibly large and fairly expensive. They’re designed to be large, as long arm sewing machines can accommodate the bulk. As the machine stitches the quilt, the long arm quilting frame unrolls new sections. One major benefit of using a long arm quilting frame is that it doesn’t require basting. The frames hold the batting and fabric layers together, which makes it much easier to work on larger projects. 

If you don’t have access to a long arm sewing machine but don’t like sewing by hand, you can purchase quilting frames that are designed to work with domestic sewing machines. These frames make it easier to work with multiple layers of fabric and are available in a variety of sizes. 

How Do I Use A Quilting Frame?

Because there are so many different types of quilting frames, the way you use them will vary. Your quilting frame should come with specific instructions on how to use it. The main thing you need to learn when using a quilting frame is how to load it. There are three main loading styles for every quilt frame: the partial float, the full float, and the full attachment. A quilt floats when one of its sides is resting on the backing and batting, but is not connected to the canvas or the quilt frame. 

  • Partial Float: With the partial float, your quilt top is connected to one edge of the frame but not the opposite side. One side of the quilt is attached to the top roller, which makes winding easier, and gives you better control over the top of the quilt. The end that isn’t connected to the frame lays on the backing/batting. You can use basting stitches or pins to hold it down.
  • Full Float: With a full float, no part of the quilt is connected to the frame. The quilt simply hangs over the backing and the batting. This is the quickest attachment method, as you only need to attach the backing to the frame. However, this method doesn’t offer you much control over the quilt top.
  • Full Attachment: This is when the entire quilt top is attached to the frame, not just the backing. This technique ensures that you can independently adjust all three layers of the quilt and offers the most control. 

Other Tips For Using A Quilting Frame

Loading a quilting frame takes some practice and is most easily done with two people. Some other tips for using quilting frames include:

  • Large projects require large quilting frames. They come in a variety of different sizes, and while larger ones can be expensive, they make working with large quilts so much easier.
  • Quilting frames work best when you work from one side to the other consistently. Choose to work from either right to left, or left to right, and stick with your direction.
  • The backing of your quilt must be at least six inches longer than your quilt top, and your batting should be about four to five inches longer.
  • If you need to mark your pattern on your quilt, this should be done before loading, as the frame can stretch and distort your quilt’s surface. 
  • Always stitch towards yourself, rather than away from yourself.
  • Choose a comfortable chair when working with a frame! Armless chairs with wheels work well. If your chair has arms, make sure they’re parallel to the floor so they don’t interfere with your work.

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Quilt Frame? 

There are so many reasons we recommend investing in a quilt frame. If you’re a hand quilter, they really make your life a lot easier. Hand quilting without a frame or a hoop is frustrating at best and impossible at worst. Frames help to hold your work taut, which prevents bunching and allows you to achieve a more professional look. 

Quilt frames also make machine quilting much easier. Frames help to hold all three of your layers in place and hold your work taut, which allows you to quilt much more quickly than if you were working without a frame. Plus, you don’t have to move and turn your quilt as you work, which saves you time and energy.

Quilt frames are also much more affordable than you may think! There are so many different types of frames available in a variety of price ranges. If you really want a quilt frame on a budget, it’s even possible to make your own with some scrap wood.

Larger quilt frames like floor quilting frames also allow multiple quilters to work on the same project at once. This is great for quilting circles or classes. It’s so much fun to work on a project with your friends, and quilting frames help to hold the work in place so everyone can work simultaneously.

All in all, quilt frames make quilting much faster and easier and offer a much more professional-looking finished product, even when working on complex quilting patterns. 


Quilt frames are an amazing tool that all quilters should consider investing in. They come in a variety of different sizes and materials and make quilting much easier and faster. Plus, they hold all the layers in place at once, which saves you time and energy. Quilt frames help make your final quilt look much more polished and professional, which is why so many commercial quilters choose to use them.

Here at Love Sew, we’re passionate about all things sewing and quilting. We have a huge catalog of handy sewing tools and gadgets, plus we publish helpful crafting tutorials on our blog, such as “How To Properly Use A Rotary Cutter.” Visit our website today to join the Love Sew family!



History of Quilting Frames | Ezinearticles

What’s the difference between a sit-down longarm machine vs. a domestic sewing machine for quilting? | APQS

How to Use A Quilting Frame | Whitfield Sewing Congress

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