How to Stretch a Quilt Without a Frame?

A quilting frame is quite unique because no other mode of stitching, repairing, dressmaking, or embroidering requires the help of a frame.

In fact, making a quilt is the only type of work with fabrics that require the help of a quilting frame. 

However, quilting frames are quite massive and not everyone has the space for one in their home.

Especially if you are an amateur quilter or a hobbyist, without your own workroom or work desk for stitching and quilting, it might almost be impossible to fit in a quilting frame in your home. 

Still, this does not mean that it’s not possible to make quilts without using a quilting frame.

Just like it is possible to quilt without using a quilting hoop, you can also stretch your quilt and finish working on them without having to use a quilting frame.

In this article, you can learn all the tricks and tips to do so. 

What is a Quilting Frame?

As mentioned before, quilting frames are rather large structures that are used to hold the three most important parts of the quilt – the batting, the backing, and the top part – together when you are working on it.

Depending on the structure, the size, and the purpose, quilting frames can actually be of a few types: 

  • A floor quilting frame is generally made from wood and stands on the floor. They are also quite large, almost the size of a king-sized quilt so that they can stretch the entire quilt at the same time. The whole quilt can be attached to the frame so that you can work on any portion of it at any time. 
  • A lap quilt frame is small and a very simple kind of wooden frame. This is a frame that you can fix in front of you as you work sitting down. Rather than standing erect on the floor, it looks like a small coffee table in front of the user, convenient for sitting down to work. 
  • A machine quilting frame is a frame for quilters who use a quilting machine or a sewing machine to make and design their quilts.  
  • A longarm quilt frame is generally designed to work with large industrial-sized quilting machines. The frame is placed beside the quilting machine and the leader strips on the top and the bottom are attached to the machine, and it makes working with a large-sized quilt easier to handle while sewing with a machine. 
  • A sewing machine quilt frame can be used for quilting with a regular household sewing machine. It is a simple wooden frame that will keep your large-sized quilt organized and folded while you use the machine to work on one of the corners or other sides of the quilt. 

Therefore, as you can see, having a quilting frame can be quite helpful, especially when you are working on a large-sized or a king-sized quilt. 

How to Stretch a Quilt Without a Frame?

When you don’t have access to a quilting frame or when you don’t have the space for one in your workroom, it is perfectly possible to stretch your quilt without using a frame. Follow the steps below to know how to do so: 

  1. Lay the backing fabric on the floor, or a large flat table. Wherever you decide to lay down your fabric, it has to be wide enough to hold the whole quilt, and has to remain undisturbed for as long as you need to finish the quilt. The backing has to be facing UP, i.e. the design, the printed side or the pattern of the backing has to be facing the floor. If both sides of the backing are the same, you can use either side to be the part looking upwards. Or downwards.
  2. Use a thick painter’s tape to stick the backing to the floor. This will make the backing stick to the floor at all times. This is also why it is important that you choose an unused table or an uninhibited part of your house for this, because the quilt shouldn’t be removed or moved until it is completely done. 
  3. Tape all the sides of the backing to the floor using the tape. While you are doing this, make sure there are no wrinkles in any part of the fabric. You can even use a household iron to smooth out the wrinkles before taping it to the floor. 
  4. Place the batting on top of the batting taped to the floor. The backing should ideally be exactly the same measurement as the backing. If not, you can trim off the edges until they are both the same size. 
  5. Place the finished and the smoothed out top layer of the quilt on top of the batting. This is an important step. The top layer must be finished when you place it on top of the backing and the batting. You can use an embroidery hoop or a quilting hoop or even a quilting machine for the design, but it has to be a finished design before you stretch out the three parts together. 
  6. Remember, the quilt top is usually a little shorter than the batting and the backing. 
  7. Next, take a few dozen pins and start to place them randomly around the quilt, remembering to pierce all three parts of the quilt together. The more pins you can use, the more stable your quilt parts will be. However, if you have young children or pets in the house, you can use a spray baste to keep the three parts of the quilt temporarily stuck together. Spray bastes are usually washable so they can be cleaned away easily. 
  8. Now choose a corner or a side to start working on. 
  9. Place a heavy weight on the other side of the quilt, like the legs of an extra chair or a few heavy books, and your quilt will stay fitted to the floor even when you are pulling at the other corner. 
  10. Slowly work yourself through the whole quilt, removing the pins from the areas you are done with. You can also keep on removing the painter’s tape stuck to the sides when you are done with one part. 

If you have space in your home or on your furniture to temporarily place your quilt for working, you won’t even feel the need for a quilt frame to stretch out your quilt.  

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