Dancing Needles ~ Embroidery Frames with a Flair: Online Support

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Easy measuring tips for marking the starting points on a 45 in. square "lap" quilt top.

A good weekend project if pre-embroidered design blocks or fabric photo's are done ahead of time. This is also a good way to use up fabric pieces in a fabric stash. Consider using a combination of media. Intermix Frames using pre-embroidered design blocks with those using pieces of fabric. A solid color Background fabric would work but so would a subtle print as well as others. Plan a little; lay it out on a table, bed, or floor to get an idea of how it will look. Use those pretty variegated threads.

Instructions are for a quilt top with 9 embroidered 7” or 8” frames; three in each row.

  • This setup is for placing 9 starting points for embroidery (3 in each row) onto a piece of fabric approximately 45" square. Be accurate if cutting.
  • Having wrong sides together, fold in 1/2; fold in 1/2 again so piece is in 4th’s. At the point where all fold edges meet, place a dot with a fabric marker, marking the center of the fabric.
  • Along all fold edges, place another dot 12” from the center dot. Total of 4 dots marked on right side of fabric.
  • Unfold back to where it is in half. Refold back into 4th’s exposing the side that wasn’t marked. Place a dot 12” from the center dot. Total of 5 dots marked on right side of fabric. Unfold all. Dots look like a + shape.
  • To add the 4 corner dots, measure 12” at a right angle from the existing 4 dots. A total of 9 dots marked as starting points for the embroidery.
  • Draw a continuous line through all dots joining them to look like a box around the + shape. Extend each line approx. 8” past the dot. These lines are used to help hoop the fabric evenly in the hoop.
  • Most hoop edges have 4 center point markings; one on the left, (near left bracket); one on the right, (near right bracket); one in the front; one in the back; if not, place hoop over a grid and with a marker, add lines to the hoop edge, identifying the front center and back center.
  • Hoop the fabric so the line on the fabric aligns with the hoop edge front and back markings. The starting point dot does not need to be exactly centered in the hoop, just near the middle allowing enough room to embroider the frame. It is most important that the line on the fabric aligns with the hoop edge front and back center markings. At the machine, scroll the needle to the start point dot. Before embroidering, run a trace to ensure that the needle will not hit the hoop edge during stitching.
  • Using suitable stabilizer backing, stitch 9 frames following frame design color run information sheet(s), attaching media. If necessary, use the unique stitched centering crosshair to align pre-embroidered design blocks, fabric photo’s, or fabric pieces with a main focal point. The crosshair is not in the way because it is buried beneath the media attached. To use the crosshair, find the center of the embroidered design, not the center of the block, and place a dot on the back side. Do the same for a photo or fabric piece with a main focal point. After the "Shape Line" stitches, align that dot with the center of the crosshair stitched in the hoop. If necessary, use a temporary spray fixative to hold the media in place. Stitch the “Attach Line”, then when the machine stops, trim away the excess fabric to the stitching line. Finish stitching the frame.
  • After all frames are stitched, draw 4 lines again on the right side between and 6” from each of the existing lines, this time all the way to the edge of the fabric. *These lines are to follow for joining together all layers of fabric, including batting, in the final step. (SEE * and OPTIONAL below.)
  • Layer the embroidered top, any desired quilt batting, and a back piece of fabric. Hold all layers together with large safety pins. Using any of several quilting techniques, finish the outside edge around the quilt.
  • Use a wet cloth to remove any chalk or fabric marker lines.


*On a sewing machine, stitch along the 4 lines between the embroidered frames to join the embroidered top to the fabric back, holding all layers in place. A decorative machine stitch can be used if desired. Alternatively, one could quilt the layers together between the Frames using a quilting machine. Or, as some prefer, tie with yarn or heavy thread where the lines between the embroidered frames intersect.

OPTIONAL: Some may prefer to join all layers before finishing the outside edge. Whatever way works is fine.