Four Rail Basting &Quilting Frame

How to construct and use a Four rail basting and quilting frame

Krystal Hosmer -


4 Wooden rails
4 3" C Clamps
4 chairs or other stands
Quilter's Thumbtacks and Pins
Staple Gun (optional)
Leftover flannel, twill or other utility type fabric. About 3-4 yards of at least 12" wide strips.

Cost: About $50

Go to Home Depot or any Building Supply store- Purchase qty 2, 10 foot and qty 2, 8 foot, 1" thick by 3" wide pieces of very straight pre-cut wood (lay them on the floor next to each other - they should lay flush with each other along the edges, no knots, obvious defects or bows). About $30-$40 dollars. Popular or Redwood is excellent. Oak is too heavy. Pine is good if you are on a budget.

Also purchase 4 qty, 3" C clamps. About $15

When you get home, use a staple gun (or quilter's thumbtacks - an office type stapler is not up to this job) to cover the rails in a flannel,twill or heavy pants weight cotton (not denim). Wrap them snugly and staple the fabric to the rails along the 3" wide part. You do not have to use a continuous piece, just overlap each section. The fabric is what you'll be pinning the quilt fabric to later.

For stands you may use dining room chairs - chairs with straight backs that are level along the tops. Fabric covered chairs work well because the fabric keeps the frames from slipping. I can also send you the diagrams to construct stands from plywood if you or your DSO is carpenter-inclined. E-mail

Set the chairs (or stands) up in a rectangle. Put the 10 foot rails longways (bottom) and the 8 foot rails shortways (top) on the chair backs or stands. Get out you backing fabric, unfold it. Center the shortways end on the 8 foot rails, right side towards the floor. Put a quilter's thumbtack through the center of that end into the rail. Tack each end. repeat with other rail. Stretch out farbic. Use the C clamps to clamp the shortways rail to the longways rail on both ends. Tack the middle of the longways sides. Starting from the middle tacks, go along the edges of the quilt and pin (long quilting pins are best) the backing to the rails about every 6". Make sure while you are pining that the backing is taught with no wrinkles. Be careful to stretch only to taughtness, not so much that it distorts the fabric. Unroll, position, and smooth your batting. Lay the quilt top, right side up on the batting. Follow the same procedure as the backing to secure it.

At this point you may baste the quilt for hand or machine quilting by using very long running stiitches in a grid (12" square) pattern. Baste longways from the sides as far in as you can reach. Then baste from the shortways as far as you can reach. Carefully undo the C clamps on one end. Unpin the longways sides up to the point where you stopped. Gently roll the quilt toward the floor around the rail. Make sure the ends lay neatly and that the rail ends up straight. Using a bit of care, reclamp the quilt covered rail to the longways rail. It will not hurt the fabric if you need to place the clamp over it, but be careful when you are tightening so that the batting doesn't wrap around the clamp. Repeat with the other end. Continue in this manner until the quilt is basted.

You may also tye or hand quilt a quilt on the frames without basting using the same procedure.

To remove the quilt- undo all four C clamps and bring the shortways rails toward the center. Gently unroll the quilt and unpin from rails.

Email me with questions. - Krystal Hosmer -

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