Which hoop-style quilting frame is right for you? Today we are comparing the super cute Cutie collapsible quilting frame with the new Evolution Hoop Hybrid Frame. I hope this video helps you pick the right frame for your quilting journey:
I compared these two quilting frames on the following factors:
1. Size or portability
2. Ease of Use
Yes, I probably should have included cost as well as it is often the first factor we look at when purchasing new quilting equipment.
A Cutie Frame has an MSRP of $1199.95 while the Evolution Hoop Frame MSRP is $2699.95. Keep in mind, that is the highest price you’ll ever find these frames. We run monthly sales on frames, longarms, and accessories so contact us for help knowing the best time to buy your quilting frame.
It’s best to think of this as an investment, not an impulse purchase. Take your time, learn about our frames and machines, and ask questions and you will likely be a lot happier with your quilting system for years to come.
1. Size or Portability - Which frame is the right size?
The Cutie Frame wins on size - this frame is light weight and collapsible, which means I can easily store it under my bed or in a closet when I’m not using it. This frame is ideal for quilters who want to pull out the frame, set it up for a weekend, quilt your quilt, then put it all away.
If you need to be able to put your frame away, the Cutie is for you!
An Evolution Hoop Frame isn’t made to collapse. This is a bigger, sturdier, heavier frame designed to live in a dedicated space in your sewing room, always set up and ready for quilting.
The advantage with a permanent frame setup is always being able to pop a quilt on the frame and get it quilted. The downside is the space investment.
My Evolution Hoop Frame is in a space that measures 7 1/2 feet wide x 7 feet long. You will need space to walk around the frame to access the back side for quilting with pantographs and other quilting techniques.
2. Ease of Use - Which frame is easier for quilting?
Machine quilting on any frame is very easy - your machine is on wheels, supported by the carriage, and can quickly move in all directions. Easy peasy!
What I’m talking about with Ease of Use is everything that happens before you take your first stitch:
- How fast can you load your quilt on the frame?
- When you finish quilting a space, how quickly can you advance to the next space?
- How complicated is the loading / unloading process?
This is a big consideration because time spent fiddling with the quilt or frame is time you are not quilting.
This is where the Evolution Hoop Hybrid Frame clearly wins - not only do you have more quilting space (42 inches wide), you will also have our new back clamps. These are AWESOME - the clamp has a large, open top designed to roll and tuck the quilt inside, with a spring loaded clip on each clamp that holds the quilt down.
Another BIG benefit of the Evolution Hoop frame is it’s a hybrid frame - you can attach a hand wheel to the back rail and transform this frame into a rolling rail frame. For quilts 42 inches wide or less, your loading method just got even faster. Click Here to find a video on both methods of loading this frame.
The Cutie Frame has less quilting space (32 inches wide) and even with the biggest longarm (Qnique 19X Elite), your maximum space will be 14 x 32 inches. This means you will be advancing (unclamping and rehooping) more often.
The quilt management system on the Cutie works, but is slower - you have to roll the quilt up and secure the roll with elastic clips. If you are quilting with a home machine and using the bottom handles under the frame, you will need to roll and clip to the back and front. That is a lot of clipping and that takes time.
3. Longevity - How long will you have your frame?
You will enjoy your frame, Cutie or Evolution, for as long as you want to do that style of quilting and don’t feel too frustrated by the process.
You will want to change frames when you see more benefit in changing than the cost or complication of making that change.
This is why I encourage you to think of your frame as an investment. Investments are good for the long haul. Quilters love “workhorse” sewing machines that last for decades. I believe your quilting frame can do this too!
It's good to understand the purpose of these frames and what they are designed to do. A Cutie Frame is designed for easy storage and portability. This frame was created to help Weekend Warrior Quilters who want to pull out a frame, quilt over a weekend or during a retreat, then put it all away.
This frame is also fixed at 48 inches long, so with the biggest compatible machine installed, you will have a maximum of 14 x 32 inches of quilting space.
That is it.
It will never get bigger, you can’t make it longer and it will always have the same clamping and loading process.
The Evolution Hoop Hybrid Frame was designed for quilters who don't have much space now, might not have a longarm now, but can see the benefit of being able to upgrade and expand in a few years.
This frame has been designed to make hoop frame quilting much faster and easier - it has awesome back clamps that make loading much faster and it can switch from hooping to rolling rail loading style, which makes loading and advancing quilts smaller than 42 inches even faster!
When you’re ready, you can upgrade and expand this frame up to a 12 foot rolling rail Evolution Elite.
Right now you may have no interest in this - in owning a longarm, or having a 12 foot frame. Back in 2009, I had no intention of ever touching a longarm. They were too big and too expensive for me to consider even playing with them at a quilt show.
This just goes to show that we can’t predict where this awesome craft will take us! I realized in 2014 that I wanted to make bigger quilts, quilt in a softer style, and to finish more quilts each year. This desire challenged me to think outside the box, rearrange my quilting space, and become more open-minded about my quilting style.
Trying out longarm quilting and putting my first longarm frame (Qnique 14+) on a frame, was a game changer for me and I am very grateful I allowed myself the space to change and grow with this craft.
4. Compatibility - Which machines can you use?
On the Cutie Frame, you can use the following machines:
Any home machine - you will be happiest if you have at least a 7 inch harp space in the arm. Measure the distance between the motor of your machine and your needle to check. Less than 7 inches will result in less than 3 x 32 inches of quilting space, which likely won't make you very happy.
Off-brand longarms like the Babylock Tiara or HQ Sweet 16 - These sit-down style longarms were very popular a few years ago, but pushing the quilt under the needle gets old after awhile. You can move these machines to a Cutie, but understand you will have to use the machine's foot pedal to operate the speed.
Qnique 16 and 19 longarms - We've just recently discontinued our Qnique 15 longarms, but the new Qnique 16X series and Qnique 19X series are both compatible and work great with the Cutie! Click Here to find all the Qnique longarms compatible with the Cutie.
The handlebars on the front of the machines make it possible to remove the front clips on the frame. You can let the front of the quilt hang rather than having to roll and clip, which saves time with each load and advance.
On the Evolution Hoop Frame, you can use the following machines:
Bigger home machines - I make this clarification because you do need the machine to have a long enough and tall enough arm to accommodate the larger back clamps. I recommend having at least an 8 inch harp and 5 1/2 inches in height.
Off-brand longarms like the Babylock Tiara or HQ Sweet 16 - Just like the Cutie, you can use these longarms on the Evolution Hoop Frame, but understand you will have to use the machine's foot pedal to operate the speed.
Of course, the following Qnique Longarm machines will work the best on your Evolution Hoop Frame!
After all this, which quilting frame is right for you?
Only you can answer this question, but I hope this post has helped you make a decision that is right for you!
Do you have more questions about either the Cutie Frame or Evolution Hoop? Post in the comments below to get more help!