Hand quilting has been an art form for centuries, and the tools used to accomplish delicate quilting designs haven’t changed much.
These essential hand quilting tools are a needle, thread, thimble, and a quilt frame.
In this article, we’re going to focus on the quilting frame, its benefits, and a list of nine excellent options for quilting frames for you to do your hand quilting at home.
What is a Hand Quilting Frame?
So what exactly is a quilting frame? Traditionally, a quilting frame was a large rectangular frame made from wood.
The frame was then attached to four legs, so it looked like a large dining table. Quilters would then attach and pull the quilt taut within the frame to keep it from shifting.
They used clamps, nails, or rope to secure the quilt, basically anything they could find.
These first frames were most often used during quilting bees. Several women would pull up a chair to the quilting frame and work on the quilt together. This event was a social gathering and a community project.
Later in the early to mid-1900s, quilting bees became less popular, and quilters started making their own frames for personal use, which is how we know quilting frames today.
There are three distinctly different types of quilting frames:
- Hoop on a Stand: A large hoop that looks similar to an embroidery hoop, except the hoop is deeper to accommodate the layers of the quilt. The hoop is attached to a stand which you can adjust the height for sitting or standing.
- Scroll Frame: Originally used to create tapestries, these frames are used by rolling the quilt on either end onto dowels to hold the quilt taut while you hand quilt it. If you look up longarm machine quilting frames, this is the style that is used by quilters who do longarm quilting.
- Lap or Floor Frame: This style is more of the traditional-looking frame for hand quilting. It will be a rectangle made from either wood or PVC plastic.
I’ll show you examples of each of these styles and give you some pros and cons of each. The frame that is best for you depends on personal preference.
Here are some of the benefits of using a quilting frame:
- They help to hold your work in place, so you get a clean, beautiful result.
- You have a larger work area. Unlike using a small quilting hoop, you won’t have to stop quilting and move your frame as often.
- The connection to the past. You’ll be using the same techniques quilters have been using for centuries.
What to Look for in a Hand Quilting Frame
Now that you know the background of quilting frames and the different types, I’ll share some features you should consider when you’re looking for the right frame for you.
- Size of the frame
- Is the frame adjustable?
- Is the height of the stand adjustable?
- Ease of use
- Ease of storage
- Weight of the frame
With these factors in mind, let’s check out nine frames that are worth considering for your hand quilting projects.
9 Top Hand Quilting Frames to Consider
When you’re looking for a significant upgrade to your hand quilting tool kit, this quilting hoop with a stand is the invisible set of hands that you’ve wished for.
You can adjust the base’s height up to 37.5 inches and make it just right for wherever you want to sit. Collapse it to only 16 inches for easy storage.
The hoop rotates and tilts a full 360 degrees so that you can get just the right angle for working. You can remove the hoop from the stand if you wish to use a hoop alone.
- Made in the USA
- Fully adjustable
- Easy to assemble
- Top heavy, prone to tipping
A large 31-inch oval solid wood hoop lets you see more of your design while working. Among quilting hoops with stands, it has a lower price than most.
A 4-inch tension bolt adjusts easily so that you can keep fabric tension high while you stitch. You may detach the hoop if you want to work without the stand.
- Large work area
- Solid wood
- A large quilt could make it tip over
This wooden quilting frame for hand quilting is a fabulous option if you will be doing a variety of quilt sizes. The frame itself is adjustable from a baby size quilt (24”x45”) up to a full-sized quilt (24”x90).
This product is a scroll-style frame and would work well for someone who may not have a huge area where you can have the quilting frame set up all the time.
Setup and takedown time shouldn’t take too long. It does weigh about 25 pounds, so this wouldn’t be the best option if you want to travel with your quilting frame.
- Large adjustable space for different quilt sizes
- Made in the USA
- Easy assembly
- Wood may crack if you tighten the frame too tight.
- Heavy, not great for travel.
The Dritz 3129 Floor Frame is an inexpensive option for anyone who may not want to spend a lot of money on their first quilting frame. Since it is made from PVC, it is lightweight, easy to assemble, and easy to store.
The legs also feature four different slots where you can adjust the height and angle of the workspace. The workspace is a large area at 39”x28”. This choice would be great for any size quilt, and the frame is sturdy and well made.
- Easy to assemble and store
- Adjusting the angle of the workspace may make the frame a bit tipsy.
This frame is a more complex version of a scroll frame. Another great option if you will need to do a variety of different sized quilts. This frame can adjust the width from 35” up to 99”. It is the largest frame on this list and the most expensive, but it would be an investment in your quilting craft.
A great feature of this frame is you don’t need any special tools to adjust the frame. The frame comes with knobs that you can use to change the width and angle of the frame. It is also reasonably easy to store either against a wall or under a bed.
- Large adjustable window
- Fairly lightweight for its size- 20 pounds
- Made in the USA
- You can’t completely break it down and store it in a closet or box.
This quilting frame is not only a beautiful Amish handcrafted piece of furniture, but it’s also a solid option for any quilter wanting to incorporate hand quilting into their projects. The frame is made from solid oak, which means it will be sturdy and last a long time.
There is little assembly required, and the hoop is an impressive 22” in diameter. Even when this frame isn’t being used, it will still look beautiful in your living room or craft area. You can easily adjust the angle of the quilting hoop to fit your needs as well. The height of the stand is not adjustable but is 33” high.
- Solid Oak
- 22” hoop
- Handcrafted in the USA
- Height is not adjustable
- A bit pricey
Here is a lovely lap or tabletop frame that can be used on smaller quilting projects. The max-width of a project you could use this frame for is 20”, so I wouldn’t recommend using this for anything larger than that. If you make small quilted bags or kitchen essentials, this could be a great fit for you.
Also, if you like to dabble in other needlework like cross stitch or embroidery, this would work for those types of crafts as well. Assembly is quite simple for this frame, and it is incredibly light at just over four pounds. Since it is so small, it would be simple to store when you are not using it.
- Lightweight and easy to store
- Versatile-can be used for several different types of needlework
- Easy assembly
- It can only work on small projects
Here we have another quilt frame that is made from PVC. The Q-Snap frame is a great option if more than one person would like to work on a project at the same time. It is large enough to accommodate multiple quilters. This frame is very similar to the Dritz PVC frame in #4.
It is lightweight (10 lbs) and easy to assemble/disassemble for storage, and won’t take up a lot of space. You can easily move your quilting project through the frame to work on different areas of your quilt. You also won’t have to worry about the fabric snagging on the frame since it is made from plastic.
- Easy assembly and disassembly
- Large enough for multiple quilters
- PVC isn’t as “pretty” as wood.
The Frank A. Edmunds Universal Craft Stand is the best option for anyone who loves to do all sorts of needlework, not just hand quilting. The unique feature of this “craft stand” is that you can change out the hoop or frame used.
You can use quilting hoops, scroll frames, and other different types of bars, frames, and hoops with this universal stand. The stand itself is 37 ½” tall, but you can adjust the height and angle to fit perfectly for you. They even have the option to adjust for left or right-handed crafters.
- Fully adjustable and customizable for different crafts
- Made in the USA
- Larger projects may cause the stand to be tippy.
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There are so many different types of hand quilting frames on the market, and each seems to have its pros and cons. It’s really up to you and your preferences on which you choose to go with.
My personal favorite from this list is #6, the Amish Oak 22” Swivel Quilting Hoop with Stand. It is a beautiful frame, and out of all the frames in this list, it is the most sturdy looking. I also appreciate that they are handcrafted, just like the quilts that you will quilt on it.