How to prepare your quilt for Longarming
A very large quilt can be quite a chore to quilt at home. Are you considering sending your big bed quilt in for professional quilting service? Let's get it ready for longarm quilting. Different quilters may have slightly different expectations, but these are the basics.
Here's how to prepare your quilt for professional quilting.
DON'T BASTE YOUR QUILT
That's right, you get to skip basting! Send your quilt top and backing without attaching them in any way. They are loaded on the quilting machine as separate layers. You'll also need to send wadding if you prefer to use your own, but we do have a variety of waddings available if you need us to provide it.
INSPECT YOUR QUILT TOP
Give your quilt top a thorough inspection If there are stains, let us know that you are aware of them. Trim away loose threads, which can get caught in the quilting becoming more difficult to remove. Check that seams are well-pressed to prevent them from rolling unattractively during the quilting process.
Are the edges of your quilt top straight? If you improv-pieced the work you might have jagged patchwork edges. Trim all four sides of the quilt straight so that it can be loaded properly on the longarm machine frame. Square is even better, but straight will be fine.
Tip: Cut your borders to the exact size before sewing them to the quilt. Attaching borders beginning in the center and sewing towards the edges solves many fullness issues.
Please make sure all seams are secure and threads are clipped on the back of the quilt. Unclipped threads can show through lighter fabrics.
Press seam allowances to leave the least bulk at the seams.
Press your quilt top.
Mark the top edge of your quilt top with a safety pin.
We require a backing that is 8-10" larger than the quilt top both in width and height. For example, a 60" quilt top requires an 68" square backing. This 4-5" of excess backing all the way around the quilt allows us to clamp it to the frame to "hold onto" the quilt while it sews.
SEND A FLAT BACKING
Most quilt tops aren't perfectly flat and square. That's ok! We are eager to do our best by your project without judgement. To make our job easier, send a flat backing. Juggling fullness in the backing and the quilt top all at once is tricky and can lead to tucks. However we also have a variety of backings available too.
If you choose to piece backing, take time to sew those long seams carefully. Cut yardage straight and square before joining segments. Most importantly, use pins and/or a walking foot to help achieve an even feed.
Sewing a long seam without any pinning or walking foot assistance tends to result in a seam that looks fine, but actually has more fullness on one side of the seam than the other. When such a backing is loaded onto a longarm sewing machine, the full side sags down even while the other side is pulled tight. It's difficult for the quilter to compensate without stressing the already-tight fabric.
Just ask! We are be happy to help. After all, we both have the same goal - a beautifully finished quilt! Educating quilters is always preferred to troubleshooting problems in the quilting studio. We're all learning all the time. Don't be shy about asking for help.