Saturday, March 11, 2017

DIY: quilt frame

Last summer, one of my fellow Mtl MQG members brought her PVC quilt frame to an event and I immediately wanted one. You could use it for hand quilting, you could use it for basting, it was light-weight and broke down to be stored flat! Very handy indeed for the apartment-dwelling quilter! I looked online and while you can find them state-side for relatively cheap, they're quite a bit more expensive here in Canada... but perhaps I could make a DIY version?

Spoiler alert: I made a DIY version :P 

So one weekend, I gave my boyfriend an excuse to go to Home Depot and while he browsed, I made a bee-line for the plumbing department. There I grabbed:
You could also get some end caps for the feet and even PVC adhesive if you wanted to glue the frame together, but I wanted mine to be collapsible so I just got the basics; all told, the bill came out to about $40. Pro tip: Make sure the PVC pipes fit in your chosen mode of transport before buying them, or else find yourself a very tolerant boyfriend who is willing to spend the drive home desperately clutching the pipes that are partly hanging out of the passenger side window. ;) 

On the way home, I swung by the fabric store and grabbed two sets of Q-Snap replacement clamps (which fit nicely on 3/4" PVC pipe). Then at home I simply used the boyfriend's mitre box and hand saw to cut down the PVC pipe into the following measurements:

  • 2 lengths of 22" (frame sides) - A
  • 2 lengths of 28" (frame top and bottom) - B
  • 4 lengths of 2" (extension for frame top and bottom to connect elbows) - C
  • 4 lengths of 10.5" (cross bars between front and back legs) - D
  • 2 lengths of 24" (two front legs) - E
  • 2 length of 30" (two back legs) - F
  • 1 length of 28" (cross bar) - G

The dimensions of the work space are roughly 24" by 36", but of course you can adjust it to whatever dimensions you like. I also chose to make the front legs shorter than the back legs so that the work space would be angled towards me as I work. 

To construct:

1. Connect an elbow joint to the end of each of two 22" lengths (A) and insert each of the 4 extensions pieces (C) in the other end of the elbow joint:

2. Connect a T joint to the end of each of two 28" lengths (B):

3. Connect these four pieces together to form a frame: 

4. Make sure that the empty socket in each of the T joints is facing downward: 

5. Insert one of the 10.5" cross bar pieces (D) into either side of a T joint:

6. Connect a T joint to each end of the resulting cross bar piece, and then insert one of the 24" lengths (E) and one of the 30" length (F), giving you one of the frame sides: 

7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 to make the other frame side

8. Place the frame (step 3) on the ground with the empty sockets in the T joints facing upwards, and insert the frame sides and turn upright to complete the frame: 

9. Inset the 28" cross bar (G) in the remaining empty T joint sockets to stabilize the frame:

10. You are done! Snap on your Q-Snap clamps and start planning all of the things you can now do with it! ;) 

And, of course, make sure you always have a supervisor to oversee your work! ;) This fellow oversees all of my work. 


  1. Hi, I am interested in making this frame...i need something bigger than the lap sized q snap frame i am using now, I have to reposition it too often. What size of the q snap replacement clamps did you use? Do they all come in one diameter, and it is just the length that changes? Would the 'add a pair' q snaps (which are slightly cheaper in my area) work as well? Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. So far as I know, the Q snap clamps are the same diameter and just change in length. If you're unsure, I would suggest taking your clamps with you to get the pipes, that way you can check for fit. And yes, the replacement clamps work fine... that's what I got for mine. Good luck! :)

    2. I put my frame together this took me an hour to make, start to finish, and that included getting supplies. I did end up needing 1/2 inch pvc to fit my snaps, but I love it!

    3. Outstanding! Hope you enjoy it! :D