Making a Group Quilt, Part 7: The Fun Part

After the basting, we are ready to really have some fun. There is only one step in the way – getting the quilt onto the frame.

Here is the church’s frame:

Yep, two sawhorses (or something made very like saw horses) and two very long pieces of wood with cloth leaders attached. There are also holes in the cross wood of the sawhorses and the ends of the long pieces of wood so large nails can be dropped in to hold the frame together. This frame was made by some of the men from our church many years ago. It was passed on to me when I took over this job. It will hold a king sized quilt, although we usually make queen sized quilts.
Once the quilt sandwich is ready, I attach it to the leaders with flower head pins. The center of each leader is marked (by a very precise lady named Dorothy), so I start by pinning that to the center of the quilt border. The first year that I did this, I pinned and then basted the quilt on, but since then, I have skipped the basting step. The flower head pins are very flat, so they work very well.
The next step is to roll the quilt as evenly as possible until the center 2 1/2 to 3 feet are showing. And then the fun starts! We get to do some hand quilting! 
If you have never sat around a quilt and quilted with other quilters, you are really missing something. I honestly believe that this step is one of the reasons women started making quilts in the first place! It is a wonderful excuse to get together and talk and feel virtuous about being busy all at once. I have gotten to know some wonderful women this way, women I might not have had much of a chance to get to know any other way. 
The pictures below are from the first quilt I organized. Yes, the man in one of the photos was really quilting. He was the pastor of our church at the time and you can be sure that the picture ended up on the big screen at church to help sell the quilt!

  
 
Our hand quilting will never win any awards. We have people of all levels of experience who come to help us. In any given part of the quilt, there may be three, four or five different stitch lengths. Each year a few people are hand quilting for the first time. For some of the regulars, this is the only time of the year they hand quilt. We’ve never heard any complaints from the purchaser of the quilt. 
We don’t use knots in our quilting. We leave a tail of about 3 inches of thread and then go back and weave it through the stitches between the layers of the quilt. (I looked for the links for the directions for this because I know I learned it on the Internet, but I haven’t found them so I’m afraid I can’t link for you here.) So far, I don’t think there have been any problems with the quilting coming out of any of our quilts. (I do bend needles from time to time, however.)