Quilting is steeped in American history and is as much a tradition as baseball and apple pie. When the United States was settled by the pioneers one of the crafts brought by them was quilt making. Many quilts were made from scraps, cut fabric blocks, and made into specific patterns. Women generally did the quilting and since they were often in wilderness areas, they would come together for quilting. Other than church, this was the only social outing many of them had. This gathering became known as the quilting bee.
Women would gather around quilting frames to help a friend or neighbor finish a quilt. This was also a time to talk about child rearing, pioneer life, learn new stitches and patterns, and tell stories. This was also a time when young women could ask about courting and marriage. The quilting frames were an essential part of life.
The construction of quilting frames were four sturdy lengths of hard wood. Two of them were long enough to hold the width of a quilt. These would be covered in some type of durable fabric, which the quilt would be attached to by pinning or basting. The other two pieces of wood would hold the first two apart in order for the ends of the quilt to be rolled tightly. This would leave a flat area for the quilters to do their stitching. Once a section was completed the quilt could be rolled, presenting a new section to be quilted.
Often the homes were small and space for the quilt frames were placed on four ladder back chairs, once the quilting was finished for the day, the quilt would be rolled tightly and the entire project stored in the rafters or some other area of the home, or leaned against a wall.
Another solution was to hang the frames from the beams in a room of the house. Pulleys would be used for the ease of movement. Once the quilting was finished for the day it could be hauled up and out of the way until the next time the quilt would be worked on.