Thursday, April 27, 2017

Basting and Quilting in an Old Fashioned Frame

Joe Cunningham is a professional quiltmaker with a flair for improvisation and quilting “freehand” designs without marking. “Joe the Quilter” lives in San Francisco, California, a long drive from Baltimore, Maryland. But thanks to technology, I just spent an hour and a half with Joe and his “Zen attitude,” via his DVD, Basting and Quilting in an Old Fashioned Frame.” (found on

As a teacher myself, of hand applique and hand quilting, I always enjoy learning how other people work on their quilts.

On the video, Joe shows step-by-step how to make the simple, inexpensive 4-board frame he uses. While visiting a local quilting group, the Dorcas Quilters, Joe points out similar setup options that they use. This kind of frame can easily be disassembled and stored away when not in use; convenient for a quilt guild, shop, or at home.

He also shows how to use the frame to thread baste the 3 layers of a quilt (backing, batting, and top) in preparation for machine quilting or hand quilting in a hoop.

From his studio, Joe talks about how he likes to work while actually quilting in the frame, how he decides what to quilt, and the tools he prefers. 

Zooming in to view both hands above and below the quilt, Joe maneuvers the needle to demonstrate how to do the actual hand quilting stitch, tie off, and “waddle” from one place to another.

The most useful thing I learned from Joe today is how to quilt away from myself. I look forward to trying his methods, and I can watch over and over until I accomplish the Zen attitude of quilting "without looking." Meanwhile, I can enjoy the music on the DVD from “Music for Squares” by Joe Cunningham and Erik Walker.
Keep Stitching!
Barbara M. Burnham
(c) 2017 Barbara M. Burnham. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any kind is expressly prohibited without prior written authorization.

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