Preparing Your Quilt for Longarming
Preparing your quilt for longarming can be stressful whether you are a new or experienced quilter. The following information should answer all your questions. If I’ve missed something or something is unclear please use the contact form here to touch base with me. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have. Let’s get started.
Preparing Your Quilt Top-
- Your quilt top should be clean, seams secure, borders applied properly and lay flat.
- Quilt tops can not have any embellishments applied to the quilt such as beads, buttons and crystals. Embroidery embellishments are usually fine however if they incorporate the aforementioned items I will not be able to quilt your top until it is removed. (Embellishments have caused damage to many longarms. Yes it’s a heavy duty machine, but it doesn’t take much to throw the timing, damage the needle bar or break a needle and if that’s what happens to the machine think of the damage it could do to your quilt top.)
- Trim any stray threads.
- Check for pins left behind.
- Quilt tops with out borders consider back-stitching the perimeter to avoid popped seams, staying close to the edge so that it will not be visible after binding is applied.
- Measure the length and width of your top so you know what size your backing needs to be.
- Directional quilt tops and backings need to have a pin with visible note attached to the top edge with the applicable information. While some directional tops or backings are very obvious others are not.
- Press your quilt top and fold it wrong sides together to minimize seam fraying.
Preparing Your Quilt Back-
- Standard quilting cotton and flannel backings must be a minimum of 6” longer and wider then the length and width of your quilt top. The extra length is used to attach your backing to the bars on the longarm, as well as any shrinking that might happen during the quilting process. The extra width allows for proper side clamping to secure the sides as well as test the tension. (Shrinking- Think of a magazine lying flat on the table, with all the edges nicely aligned. Now pick it up, holding the bound edge in your palms and roll to the opposite side. How well does that edge align now? This is similar to what happens in the quilting process.)
- Minkee backing must be 8″ longer and wider then your quilt top and be one continuous piece (no seams). (Tops larger then 50″ x 65″ must use a standard quilting cotton or flannel backing.) The extra length is used to attach your backing to the bars on the longarm, as well as any shrinking that might happen during the quilting process. The extra width allows for proper side clamping to secure the sides as well as test the tension. (Shrinking- Think of a magazine lying flat on the table, with all the edges nicely aligned. Now pick it up, holding the bound edge in your palms and roll to the opposite side. How well does that edge align now? This is similar to what happens in the quilting process.)
- For pieced backings, remove selvages, use a 1/2 – 1” seam allowance and press your seam open to minimize bulk along the seam. (Selvages shrink unevenly when washed and can cause puckering along the seam. No pieced minkee will be accepted.)
- For wide backs consider purchasing an extra 1/2 yard for squaring purposes. Often the bolt has been cut wonky and you’ll need that extra yardage. Ask me how I know! 🙂
- Consider pre-washing Batik quilt backs as the dyes if not properly treated can run into the other fabrics in the quilt when washed. In addition batik fabrics, high thread count and excess residue (dyes and waxes) can often make it difficult for your me to achieve perfect tension and stitches. Washing can make it easier.
- If using a sheet for your backing do NOT purchase a high thread count sheet. The lower ones are better for backing purposes. All seams must be removed and it must be washed and dried at least once. Press as usual. While sheet backings are not ideal they can be used. Please be aware that it is often difficult to get beautiful stitches with them. I try my best to get them but do not guarantee it with sheet backs.
- All quilt backs need to be squared, ready to load and have a minimum of 6″ additional length and width for loading.
- Press quilt back.
- Contact your quilter to discuss batting. Not all are suitable for longarming.
- Batting should be a minimum of 6″ longer and wider then your quilt top
A note from Kimberly-
If you prefer I can prepare your backing for you. For more information see the Additional Services page. GNQ stocks both Warm and Natural Cotton and Quilter’s Dream Wool battings in multiple sizes. For more information see the Batting & Thread page. In addition GNQ will special order any of the Quilter’s Dream products for you. Click here for options available. All batting brought in must be clean, odor free and and 6″ longer and wider than your quilt top.
Feel free to bring your own batting, however, batting is subject to approval. DO NOT BASTE your quilt top, batting and backing in any way. Each piece is loaded separately to the longarm. Basted quilts will have an additional charge for removing the basting and getting the layers ready to load. This service is calculated at $25.00 per hour with a 1 hour minimum.
If I can answer any other questions please send me a message here!