There’s a wonderful accessory for the Little Foot frame called the Little Buddy.
The HQ Little Foot Frame is a great choice for stand-up quilting in a small space. Overall length of frame is just 5 feet long and fits in the tightest studios. The frame offers a quilting space of 14” x 48”. Its innovative design accommodates any size quilt on its free-standing frame and it’s adjustable from 33” to 44” in height. Just lay your basted quilt sandwich over the frame and hold in place with the included quilt clamp management system. Ooooo…did you notice that word “basted”? Yes, you do need to baste the quilt sandwich to use the Little Foot frame. That is time consuming and can sometime be difficult.
Along comes the Little Buddy to solve that issue. The Little Buddy includes special brackets and poles which allow the quilt to be rolled and advanced to simplify quilting small quilts on your space-saving Little Foot Frame. You can quilt up to a 48 inch wide quilt using this system. And you can still use the regular method of clamping the basted quilt for any quilts you make that are larger. It is the best of both worlds!
So I’m going to show you how to load a quilt using the Little Buddy. I have a partially quilted small quilt that was made by my friend Pam.
She did a little stitch in the ditch on this piece but it went into her UFO bin because she didn’t really feel confident quilting it. I was visiting her a few weeks ago and I volunteered to take it home and finish it for her. After all, what are friends for?
Loading a Little Buddy
Please take note: I am loading a partially quilted sandwich but the backing will get loaded just like I load this sandwich.
Pin bottom edge
Start with the backing. Measure, Cut, Press, and Square the backing fabric. Be sure to measure carefully. There is nothing worse than learning you don’t have enough backing when you’re quilting and get to the bottom of the quilt. Allow 3-4 extra inches of backing fabric all the way around the quilt top. Find the center of the top and bottom edge of the backing. I mark the center with a finger press. You can place a pin or take a little snip or mark with a marker.
If you haven’t already done so, mark the center of each leader with a Sharpie permanent marker.
Line up the center of the bottom edge of the backing with the center of the lower leader. Very Important: The wrong side of the backing fabric should be facing UP.
Align the edge of the backing with the edge of the leader. Place a pin parallel to the edge and 1/4 inch away from the edge.
Use long, sharp, sturdy pins, like the ones from Handi Quilter.
Continue pinning the backing to the leader from the center out to one side and then from the center to the other side.
Pin the top edge
Pull the upper leader under the bar in the back and do the same method of attaching the top edge of the backing to the upper leader.
Important: be sure the leader is UNDER the back bar.
Notice how the fabric is under the back bar…
and over the front bar.
Roll the fabric onto the lower pole, smoothing gently as you go so that there are no puckers or ripples. Be careful not to stretch the fabric. When rolling, put the latch down into the ratchet. That way, you can only roll in the proper direction.
Roll the top leader around the top pole using the handwheel. Engage the latch in the ratchet so that you roll in the proper direction. The top edge of the backing fabric should be at the top of the quilting area of the frame.
Remember, I loaded a partially quilted piece. Use your imagination that this would be how your backing fabric looks when loaded. You’ll be looking at the wrong side of the backing fabric.
Next add the batting by laying it on the backing fabric. Place the top edge near the pins at the top of the backing and let the bottom edge hang freely down the front of the frame. Smooth carefully, do not stretch.
Note: I would have taken the time to get the wrinkles out of the batting first.
To ensure that your quilt starts off nice and straight, stitch a plumb line of basting stitches across the batting and backing at the top. Place the needle where you want the line of stitches. Use the small Hold-tight clamp to lock the wheel on the carriage and keep the machine rolling in a straight line across the batting.
Line up the top edge of the quilt top with the plumb line of stitches.
Let the quilt top hang down the front of the frame. This is commonly referred to as “floating the top”.
Baste the top in place with a line of basting stitches across the top edge and down the side edges. Keep the stitches within 1/4 inch from the edge and they will be covered by the binding when you are finished.
I highly recommend adding Velcro side clamps to your system.
They come with an adhesive piece that attaches to the outside side of your Little Foot frame. The Velcro straps of the clamps stick to it.
Clamp to the edge of your backing fabric to keep it secure while quilting.
And there you have it! Your quilt is loaded and ready to quilt.
Or in my case:
Quilt Every Day!
by Mary Beth Krapil