You’ve got your top finely finished…now it is time to get it quilted!
I have thought about the criteria which I benchmark my own Longarm business by and thought I would share with you. I hope my views will help you, get your quilt ready to be quilted by a Longarmer, either myself or another LA quilter. My take on this subject just might prevent some delays of getting your quilt back from the quilter. If there are problems with your top, the quilter just might explain the problems to you and then return the top for you to fix, or they may explain the problems with your top and quote a price to fix them for you…either way, all this could delay getting your top quilted and could incur some extra cost!
If this is your first time having a top quilted by a LA quilter… make sure you ask your quilter what his/her recommendations are before giving him/her your quilt top. Your quilter may have other requirements besides the ones I am about to talk about.
Make sure your quilt top has no “wavy borders.” If there is excess in your borders you could get puckers and pleats. If your borders are too short it can cause bulges which means puckers on the top. To prevent this, measure the quilt top (from the top to bottom) and (side-to-side), (measure both the ends and the middle for a total of 3 measurements). Always…before you cut your borders take the average of the 3 measurements, which will give you the “magic” number you seek!
If possible cut your borders from the length of fabric (LOF) NOT the width of fabric (WOF). I have found that LOF not only saves yardage (and $$), but it also helps to keep the “stretch” to a minimum and keeps them from being wavy. If you are applying multiple borders be sure to take 3 measurements of the body, including the last border you applied to your top, and apply the average each time. Do this for EVERY border you apply.
Always, always, always…pin the borders to the quilt before sewing them on. Find the middle of your top & mark it. Pin at the ends first, then find the mark in middle of the top and middle of the border…pin. Next find the middle between the end and middle…pin there, and then quarterly, then between the quarters and then between that.…use a zillion pins! You can “ease in” bias edges doing this. If you are in doubt about applying borders, ask your quilter for guidance or check with your local or “go to” quilt shop. Also, take piecing classes from as many different instructors that you can find.
Cut all stray threads, or clean up any loose threads, if you have light fabrics mixed in with darker fabrics. Those loose threads can and will be trapped under the light fabrics and shadow through your top…not good!
Make sure your top is well pressed before it goes to the quilter, same with the backing. (Note: when the wide backing is purchased from my shop and I am your quilter, I press the backing for you, but the top will need to be pressed by you and any backing purchased elsewhere!)
Each layer of the quilt is loaded separately on a Longarm machine and centered before it’s loaded on the machine. So both the top and backing need to be squared before you hand it over to the quilter. If you have made a complex pieced backing such as a backing with borders, don’t expect the top and backing to line up exactly all the way around. It’s dang near impossible to center the quilt top vertically and horizontally with the backing. So please, never expect to get it back perfectly centered…not gon’a happen! No quilter can promise to do that, due to uncontrolled shrinkage during the quilting process. Also, a pieced backing that is not consistently pieced on straight of grain and has bias mixed in could spell disaster for your top and your poor quilter! You possibly could be getting back a quilt that is covered with puckers all over the backing. Just sayin’…better stay on straight of grain and keep on your toes with that consistent 1/4” seam when piecing a back! While pieced backings are interesting…save those fabrics for another top!
I truly prefer a seamless wide backing, not just because I have so many in my shop but because there are no seams to contend with. A wide back makes for a durable backing that will last for years to come. Seams do weaken with wear, so a wide backing is always a better choice! Wide backing will also save you $$’s every time!
While we are discussing backing…check with your quilter how much bigger they need the backing than the top. I prefer 4” (all the way around) larger than the top, that means: 4” on EACH side and 4” on the top and bottom. Your quilter may require more or less…talk it over with him/her!
Next BLOG I will discuss different batting choices! But if you take batting to your quilter, make sure it too is larger than your top.
Always be mindful to have consistent 1/4” seams and that your seams are all secure, double check the back of your top before you go to the quilters.
If you plan on adding “BLING” to you quilt IE: (buttons, sequins, bows, etc.) do that after you get it back from the quilter. Our machines can be damaged should they run into some BLING…but worse that that, your beautiful top could potentially be damaged…so no BLING before it is quilted!
Sew Ma Says!