~Written by Brother Sews Blogger
Repeated cycles of washing and drying can cause shrinkage. This is true of clothing, and I think that’s happened to my house, too. After all these years of rain and sun, and my house seems to have shrunk (LOL). I mean, it seemed like quite a big house thirty years ago!
I knew I'd never be able to fit a longarm machine and frame into my studio. While I’ve been able to develop some free-motion quilting skills over the years thanks to a dear friend with a longarm machine that she generously lets me use when I visit, the 1,800 miles between us means I only visit the longarm – and my friend – once or twice a year.
When I do get to free-motion quilt, I always need a project or two to warm up. I need to become familiar with the motions again before my free-motion quilting looks acceptable at all.
Enter THE Dream Fabric Frame
(aptly named, or as I affectionately refer to it, my “DFF”). Now, my practice space is just one room away from my other sewing tools, and I can work on technique or create finished projects at any time at all.
One of my favorite things about THE Dream Fabric Frame
is the practicality of leaving a quilt sandwich on the frame so that I can stop for a bit of practice – at any time. (For beginning quilters, the process of putting together the layers of quilt top, batting and backing is commonly referred to as a “quilt sandwich.”)
It’s so simple to turn the machine on, sit down, and doodle across the cloth for a few minutes – or a few hours. I can easily switch back and forth between my practice cloth and my “real” project, too, so I’m more likely to warm up before beginning free-motion work on my latest quilt.
The practice cloths aren’t wasted either. A yard of quilter’s cotton is enough for a baby quilt top that finishes about 35" x 42"!
Packaged batting is available in a 36" x 45" size, so I can purchase two yards of sale fabric and a pre-cut batting and be ready to go. THE Dream Fabric Frame
is a perfect size for quilting a 45" width of fabric, too.
For a larger quilt (something that’s just right for a throw), use 1 3/4 yards of fabric each for the quilt top and backing, and purchase a 45" x 60" packaged batting. When your practicing is done, just trim and bind the edges.
If my practice cloth has areas I’d rather the world never sees – I just cut the quilted sandwich into smaller pieces, trimming around the parts I don’t like. I can use the good sections for place-mats, totes, teddy bears, or other small projects that incorporate pre-quilted yardage.
Your practice need not be limited to quilting, either. A single layer of fabric can be tensioned in the frame like fabric in an embroidery hoop, and you can cover its surface with stitching.
This is a great way to practice control for free-motion embroidery. (It is also the perfect way to try out a new thread weight or color.) I especially like to do a little practice stitching with variegated threads, so that I can preview the distance between color changes and the way the thread’s colors interact with each other.
I’ll end on a cautionary note: You may want to have a timer handy or set an alarm on your phone, because the time will fly when you’re having fun on THE Dream Fabric Frame
! Each idea leads to another, and before you know it – the cat will be clamoring for food. (Oh, wait, they do that all the time anyway, don’t they?)