I have a machine that's compatible with a Grace Frame and for the longest time I thought I'd just die if I couldn't have the frame.  Well, I got the frame two years ago and all I've done is practice!  I hate it!  It's such a pain and I wish I'd never bought it.  I joined a Yahoo Group for machine quilters who use frames and there are so many good tips and instructions, yet I was still frustrated with setting up the quilt for quilting.  Is there anyone else out there who wish they hadn't spent money on a frame?  I spent more time setting up than I do basting a quilt using safety pins!

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OK, I have not read all the posts, so I'm not sure if this has been addressed.  Have you considered using zipper leaders to load your quilts?  Back a while ago I had heard about zippers and quilts and had no clue how they worked.  I wasn't even sure I even wanted to learn what it was all about... it sounded too hokey.  That was until I traded for a newer machine and I had a two day class.  The instructor started off by showing us how to load a quilt using zipper leaders.  It was a big WOW for me.  Once you have a set of leaders set up with zippers you will be amazed how quickly you can load a quilt.  I'm not sure if it is still on my blog page, but I put a tutorial out there once upon a time to show how to setup those leaders.

Hi all, I'm new here at but have been reading this thread, because I just recently purchased a slightly used Tin Lizzie 18 LA and frame. I purchased the zipper leaders and although once they are pinned they load really fast, but you must make sure you know what you want because it is rather deceiving in how they are advertised. (When they say zipper you must ask if it is the whole zipper or just the male verses both male and female portions.)

You still need to pin the top and bottom but you do that to the zippers so you can sit down to do that.

Hope I haven't step on anyones toes and hope this helps

When I decided to put zippers on my leaders I bought 3 - 120" zippers.  I then sewed one side of each zipper to the leaders that stay on the frame.  Then I made three leaders from a sheet that I had and sewed the other side of each zipper to those 3 new leaders.  When I am ready to load a quilt, I sit at my sewing machine and baste stitch one end of the backing to leader #1, then the other end to leader #2... no standing, no pinning.  Then the quilt top is pinned to leader #3 as you will need to remove those pins as you are finishing the bottom edge of your quilting.  It takes me maybe 10 minutes to do this step.  When I take it out to the frame I zip the leaders onto the frame leaders... depending on how big and bulky the quilt is, it might take me at the most 10 minutes to get it all rolled and set up on the frame.  At the end when my quilting is done I can take ahold of the leader and the quilt in two hands and the basting threads just pull apart with very little resistance.

Also, I actually have three sets of zippers on the frame side of the leaders.  One is 120", one is 72" and one is 48".  I have three separate sets of zipper leaders that I sew the backing and pin the top to. 

I checked out your blog looking for the tutorial about setting up the leaders, but I couldn't find it.  Can you see if it's still there?

Just went to check, and it did come up, but it was back in February of 2010.  Name of the post is Two Zipper Leader.  Maybe I can link it here... http://grandmasals.blogspot.com/2010/02/two-zipper-leader_05.html

I love this tread.

My husband is making a machine quilting frame for me so I'm collecting ideas in advance.


Hi McKenna,

Is your husband following plans for the table? What kind of machine do you have?

I use zippers on my leaders...saves a ton of time.  I find the center of the backing (both ends) and also for the top.  I put one pin to hold the top of the backing to the zipper on the takeup bar...and repeat for the one on the belly bar.  If I am going to roll the top onto that bar...I also use a pin to attach the bottom only of the top to the corresponding roller.

I take the bottom and top to my regular sewing machine and starting from the centered pin...baste to the end...remove the centered pin, and baste from my center (where the stitches started) out to the other end.  Repeat for the other zippers...takes about 10 minutes or so once you are used to it. 

That let's me unzip the quilt to make repairs (who me make a mistake, naw..lol)..and reattach in a couple minutes.

The pinning of pieces to the leaders is what takes up so much time.

I bought my zippers from


I got the 129", as I had a 12 ft table at the time. 

Zipper stop has them listed as longarm zippers

Marge C

I have bought many zippers from zipperstop.com.  Their prices are great and they have the right zipper for whatever you are looking for.  I have my frame setup at 10 ft and that is plenty long enough for me.  I have had people ask me to do bigger quilts, and I tell them, sorry, my frame isn't big enough.  Saves me many headaches.
I can do a quilt up to 108" on my 10ft frame...but that leaves no room to move the machine to the side for changing bobbins, etc...which is why I was floating my quilts...so I had access to the bobbin.


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