Quilting without a frame is definitely possible. You can use a hoop or frame in quilting to serve as extra hands to carry the quilt’s weight. But you must know that you can quilt successfully even without this accessory.
The stress on your hands is lessened if you quilt using a frame. Back then, quilters did not use a hoop when quilting but still created wonderful quilts.
Some quilters prefer using the hoop to relax the other hand so the other hand can stitch freely. While others prefer quilting without a hoop as some find it tiring to attach and remove it from the quilt repeatedly.
Quilting with or without a hoop, quilters these days have their ways to make quilting a relaxing and enjoyable experience.
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What is a quilting frame?
A quilting frame is a structure that can hold the top, batting, and backing of the quilt you are working on. The frame acts as an extra pair of hands that can help keep your quilt elevated and taut as you stitch.
Quilting frames are used for machine quilting as well as hand quilting. They can sometimes be big enough to allow many people to work together on a quilt at a certain time.
One of the smallest quilting frames is the quilting hoop. It is commonly used if you want to quilt alone, with the weight of your quilt on your lap or on the arm you are not using for stitching. The quilting hoop is lightweight, simple, and easy to carry around.
Although a quilting frame can make your quilting work easier, some find using one a cumbersome task. If you want to quilt with a frame, you need to set up your quilt on it, then remove it once you have finished stitching a certain area. It reduces stitching time when you need to keep on moving and readjusting your frame.
How do you hand quilt without a hoop or frame?
Quilters do not use a hoop or a frame when quilting back in the day. Having the basic quilting tools on hand can make it easier for you to quilt without a hoop or frame. Also, mastering the basic steps in quilting will allow you to create wonderful quilts by hand, even without the help of a hoop.
Quilting without a hook or frame may look challenging, but some quilters prefer doing it the traditional way, by just hand quilting. Some consider using a hoop unnecessary and may add more stress instead of making quilting a relaxing pastime.
You can quilt easily without a hoop or a frame, just like the quilters were able to make gorgeous quilts back then. You will only need the basic supplies a quilter should have to finish a beautiful quilt successfully.
When quilting, you need a ruler to cut the edges and angle lines of your fabrics accurately. Any straight rule will do, but quilters recommend using an acrylic ruler, which you can see through and help you make accurate cuts. A see-through ruler will make it easier for you to read and mark the areas to cut and stitch.
It would be best to choose a 24-inch-long ruler which is six to eight inches wide and has a 45-degree angle line.
To create a neat and beautiful quilt design, you need marking tools to draw the thread path. A simple pencil can do the trick, or you can use washable markers or tailor’s chalk for darker fabric shades.
If you want to hand quilt with ease, quilters advise using 100% cotton threads. Cotton threads have a coating that makes them soft so they can glide through layers of fabric smoothly. The coat also prevents threads from getting tangled.
When hand quilting without a hoop or frame, choose a needle that you are comfortable with and can handle the fabric you are quilting. Thick and long modern hand quilting needles are the best ones to use for hand quilting. Try different kinds of needles to hand quilt and see what works best for you and your quilt project.
Another handy tool when quilting is a small pair of fabric scissors that can cut excess threads and fabrics.
It would be best to keep a thimble easily accessible when you are hand quilting. It can help you avoid pricking yourself with the needle while quilting. You can either choose a ceramic, metal, plastic, or leather thimble, as long as you are comfortable with it. It can help you enjoy more your hand quilting experience.
After gathering the tools you need to quilt, here are the steps you can follow to start hand quilting without the hoop.
- Cutting the thread
- Loading the stitches
When cutting thread for quilting, a length of about 18 to 24 inches long is suitable enough thread length to avoid tangles and frequent threading of the needle. After cutting the thread to a suitable length, thread your needle and tie a knot at the other end.
Take your threaded needle and pull it through the back of your quilt at the spot where you want to start stitching. Tug at the knot you made at the end of your thread to make sure that it does not go through the layers of your quilt and appear on the top fabric.
Small and even stitches make beautiful and neat quilts. But if you are a newbie quilter, big stitches will do just fine. You can start stitching with six stitches per inch. You can draw your quilt designs using your marking tools to guide you where to stitch.
You can make professional-looking quilts by stitching eight to 12 stitches per inch. Use your spare hand to push the loose fabric onto the needle as you stitch.
To keep from pulling your thread all the way up all the time, remember to load your needle with stitches before pulling it up. You can load at most three stitches before pulling your needle up when stitching.
Consistently loading your stitches will help you create an even tension on the thread and smooth and uniform stitches.
What stitches are suitable for hoop-less hand quilting?
When quilting by hand and without a hoop, you must know and practice the basic stitches of quilting.
It will help if you practice these basic hand quilting stitches on an old shirt or any spare fabrics you have at home. It will make you more confident when you start stitching your handmade quilt.
You can use a Quilter’s knot at the beginning of your stitch pattern, and you can also end your pattern with a Quilter’s knot. You can create a Quilter’s knot by wrapping around the needle three times. Then, pull the three loops down the yarn to make a knot.
Cut the excess thread then, begin stitching at the center of your quilt. The knot at the start and end of your stitch pattern will keep your stitches in place.
The running stitch is a common stitch that quilters use. The stitch is made by inserting the needle through the front of the fabric then you have to pull the threaded needle to the back of the fabric. Repeat the process over and over to create a line of stitches. Make sure that your stitch size is uniform and you have equal distances between the stitches.
If you want to stitch faster using the running stitch, you can load several stitches on your needle at once before pulling up the thread.
The rocking stitch involves a lot of movement of the needle, thus the name. It is used together with the straight stitch and the running stitch.
It would help if you had a thick needle to make the rocking stitch. The stitch involves putting one hand under the bottom layer of the fabric to hold it in place while the needle pierces each layer starting from the top.
When the needle arrives at the bottom layer, it is brought up to the top layer using a ‘rocking’ motion. After ‘rocking’ four or five times through the quilt layers, you can pull the thread taut. The rocking stitch creates a smooth line of stitches by using the needle in a rocking motion.
The tunnel stitch is done by holding the needle parallel to the fabric to create even stitches.
Practice these basic hand-quilting steps and quilt your way without the hoop.
How do you hand-quilt a large quilt without a frame?
Basting a quilt is what you do if you hand-quilt a large quilt without a frame. Another way is to pin the quilt parts together.
Follow the steps experienced quilters do to stitch a large quilt by hand without using a frame.
- Lay all the layers out on the floor or any flat surface in the correct order; the backing with the wrong side up, batting, then top fabric with the right side facing up. You will create something like a fabric sandwich.
- Trace the pattern or design on your quilt before basting using a pencil or a washable marker.
- Begin basting from the middle of the quilt towards the corners and edges, smoothing the fabric out as you go. You can also pin the fabrics together instead of basting. Choose the technique which is most comfortable for you.
- Start your stitches by hiding the knot first in the middle of the two layers of fabric. Place your first stitch about an inch away from where you want your first stitch to appear at the top fabric.
Insert your threaded needle with a knot at the end through the batting, then come back out again to the backing. Pull the thread until the knot pops inside the fabric layers.
- Hand-sew along the lines you have drawn with a pencil or marker, making sure that the needle passes through all the layers.
- You can use your left hand to gather the fabrics of your quilt from the backside. It can also push the needle back up through the top of the quilt. The dominant hand or the right hand for most quilters concentrates on making the stitches.
- Always pull the knot through the fabric to the middle of the fabric layers when you finish a line of stitches. The knots you create should not be visible on the top of the quilt as well as the backing.
- Remove the basting after you finish stitching the designs on your quilt.
How long does it take to hand-stitch a quilt?
The length of time to stitch a quilt by hand depends on many factors, that it would be hard to place a number on it. Some quilters can make one in days, while there may be some who can finish a quilt by hand in a couple of months or even a year.
The size of the quilt you are making plays a big part in the amount of time you can finish it. If you are making a baby quilt, it may just take you hours to finish or a day. A queen-sized or twin-sized quilt can take weeks or months. It can even take a year to finish a quilt if it is a king-sized one and everything is hand-sewn.
Your quilt design is also a big consideration to determine the length of time you can finish a quilt by hand. Some quilt patterns have very intricate designs that it would take so much time to stitch all the details.
If you want to see a finished quilt the soonest possible, stitch large designs or choose quilt patterns that do not need the top quilt covered in stitches.
Experience also plays a huge part in determining how long you will finish a quilt. Professional quilters can estimate the amount of time they can dedicate to a certain part of a quilt from experience and years of practice.
If you are a newbie quilter eager to see a finished quilt, start with easier and basic patterns like hearts, flowers, leaves, or stars.
Creating a quilt by hand can be a very rewarding and satisfying experience and is surely worth all the time you spend on the whole process.