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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Hoops, Frames or Stitching In-Hand

I thought for today, I would talk a little bit about supporting your blocks while you stitch.  Over the years, I've had some stitcher's email me to ask why their blocks pucker.  The first thing I ask them is if they use a hoop or frame or if they stitch in-hand.  I'm never surprised when I hear that the puckered blocks were stitched in-hand.

The term "in-hand" means, that no hoop, frame or other supporting object was used to hold the block while the stitching was being done. 

Quite a few years ago, I made my one and only, whole cloth crazy quilt.

A whole cloth crazy quilt means it was pieced as one large block rather than individual blocks that were then pieced together once completed.  This piece had to be stitched in-hand.  It's approx. 22 inches square. A hoop would have left marks on the fancy velvets, brocades and silks and it would have made adding beads and other embellishments almost impossible.  Of course large quilting frames are available but I don't have the space in my house for a frame of that size to be sitting around so I stitched it in-hand.

When it came time to actually finish it into a quilt, my mother and I spent hours trying to get rid of the puckering and get it straight enough to bind it.  I do so love the look of a whole cloth crazy quilt but for me, I have no patience for the finishing to begin with and dealing with a quilt that puckers just makes me, well...crazy!

When I piece my blocks, I always leave enough extra foundation fabric to fit them into a hoop or attach them to a frame.  I have hoops in every size available and then I have some custom sized frames.  I'm very fortunate to have a father and a husband who can work with wood!

You can see my hoop on this piece.  It's a 12 inch quilting hoop.  It's old.  I bought it a flea market a few years back.  The quality back in the day was better than it is now.  A 9 inch square block will fit perfectly in a 12 inch hoop.

These are custom sized frames that my dad made for me to work this project on:







To attach the blocks to the frames, I just use old fashioned thumbtacks.  A lot of them!  With each tack, I stretch the block and by the time I have it attached the frame, it's tight as a drum.

I have not put this quilt together yet.  I made the side panels a few years ago but I've been dragging my feet on assembling it.  Why you ask?

Look very closely at the embroidered peacock.  I stitched this back in the early 1980's.  It was a pre-stamped design on black satin.  I did not use a hoop because I didn't want hoop rings and yes, the embroidered piece is puckered because of it.

I know what to do, I just haven't wanted to deal with it.  But it's on my list for this year and when I get to putting it all together, I'll write up a "how to deal with it" post.

But back to hoops and frames; I strongly suggest using one of those options to support your crazy quilt blocks.  It will save you so many headaches when you go to do the finishing on your projects.  You'll find that your blocks are pretty much straight with next to nothing for puckering.

If you need a custom sized frame and you don't have a father or husband who can make one for you out of wood, Kathy Shaw offers a great tutorial on making your own frame using pvc pipe.

Look for the link to the PDF file.











4 comments:

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

I don't use a frame when I do bead embroidery, but I love the white snap frames for thread embroidery and crazy quilt. Your stitched pieces are gorgeous.
xx, Carol

Mary Ann said...

Do you wrap your 12" bottom hoop with tape or something similiar? I took a stitching course that absolutely insisted that it was a necessity. Being a newbie I had never heard of such a thing:)

Abby / Linda said...

Love the peacock piece! I see what you mean about puckers!
P.S. I'm taking Kathy's CQ class right now to get some extra expertise!

Magpie's Mumblings said...

I am quite ashamed to admit that I mostly work in hand - I have never managed to get the hang of how to hold a frame without feeling as though I was all thumbs (a lot like using a thimble!!). I do know how much better the end result is with the use of a frame though and really do need to learn to change my ways. In the meantime, I damp stretch if I can.

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