First off my hand quilting frame is not a Grace Frame or whatever brands are out there in quilt land so mine might work differently than those you might have seen. My frame was hand crafted out of oak by an old gentleman near the Branson Missouri area about 12 to 15 years ago. He had his own shop and some of us where lucky enough to purchase one before he passed away some years back. The frame was his design so it is different from the Grace, Hinterburg – others?
This is how I load mine – as I say others might do it differently – I follow the instructions that he gave me.
Press your quilt and fold it in half lengthwise – press on the half way mark and mark it with a wash out pen if you want to.
On my bars there are half way marks so I know where the centers of the leaders are. The black mark is on all three rollers for the center. On my quilt top I have it iron pressed and a blue mark for my center.
First I put my quilt top on the back bar pinning it to the cloth. Then I roll it up, straightening it out as I go to make sure it is even and straight.
I continue to roll it and walk back and forth along the back of the quilt (by the wall) smoothing it out as I go and continue until it is all on the back roller.
It helps to drape the quilt over the rods and have it hanging as straight as you can to the floor – it helps with the flow of rolling.
The rollers are a “cog” type of roller system, with the latches down in the slots it locks in place. With the “lock” up you can move the rollers.
When I get the top all rolled up on the back I pull some of it back out and pin it to the very front roller. Then I roll it back and forth several times to make sure it is all straight and even. Sometimes you only need to do this once, sometimes it takes several times to get it all straight.
This time I only had to roll back and forth once to get it all straight. Now I roll it all back to the back roller and unpin from the front.
As you can see in this photo the quilt top is now on the back rod and out of my way so I can work on the batting and the back. This morning was quilt group – we have a large room to work in so I brought my backing and batting with me. I placed my batting on the floor getting all of the wrinkles out and then placed my backing fabric on top of it. This way I was able to make sure it was all straight and even. I then folded it and brought it home. You can load both pieces at once if you know what you are doing – otherwise you might need to load one at a time. I pin both layers to the middle roller and now repeat the quilt top instructions. Roll both layers on to the middle roller – walking back and forth in back of the frame I ease the wrinkles out and make sure it is loading smoothly as I roll. I leave it draped over the front roller and have it as straight as I can so when I roll it = it will flow smoothly.
Once the backing and batting are all rolled to the middle roller you are ready to pull that section to the front roller and pin in place. The “leaders” as I believe they are called have stripe fabric and were glued onto the rollers straight so it is best to use a stripe as your marker to pin the fabric to.
Here my batting and backing are rolled and pinned in place. Now I do exactly as I do with the top – I roll it back and forth a couple times – loading all that is on the middle roll to the front and then back again just to make sure the wrinkles are out and that it is flowing right. End with it all on the middle roller and lock in place.
Unlock the back roller that the quilt top is on and gently pull it to the front over the middle roller holding the backing and the batting (that is why you lock the middle roller to hold all in place). I have this end of the quilt top marked also for the center and I start pinning it to the front roller.
Now on the sides of the quilt frame are pieces of fabric that you pin to the side of the quilt and tighten – this pulls the quilt tight on the frame with no wrinkles on the back or top.
The whole quilt on the frame – I haven’t decided what pattern I will be quilting on this large border as of yet. I thought I had a stencil that fit it but then found out I never bought the corner section that goes with it! I bought it when traveling once and doubt I can find it now so I will come up with something new.
This is the thread I will be using – I have 3 spools of it that I got on sale someplace – two will most likely be enough. It is King Tut #917. I won’t be starting on this quilt for a little bit – I need to figure out the border first. I keep it tight while I draw the lines or design on and then I loosen it a little bit for the quilting –the needle glides though easier if it isn’t too tight.
I hope this helps those that are thinking of getting a 3 roller frame or those that aren’t sure how to use the one you have. I do this by myself but it works easier and faster to have help. I have been doing it for so many years now that one this size takes me about 75 minutes to load the quilt by myself.
EDITED: I should have mentioned that when I first got this frame it took me about 3 hours to get a queen size quilt on the frame – it gets much, much easier as you do it over and over again