Press the quilt top well from the back to make sure that all the seams are pressed. Clip threads, especially dark ones that may 'shadow' behind the lighter fabrics in your top. Hold it up to light if you are unsure.
The quilt top and the backing should lay flat and be "squared up" at the corners and straight on all sides.
Do not baste or pin your layers together. This is absolutely not necessary for long arm machine quilting. Each layer is loaded onto bars separately.
Indicate the top and bottom of the quilt if there is a difference. It is not always obvious to me if the top is directional.
Fold your quilt top carefully.
- Mark the top of the quilt, a note with a safety pin would be sufficient. Do the same for your backing if it is a directional fabric or directional pieced backing.
- Trim any loose threads on the front and back of your quilt top. Make sure it is clean and pressed.
- Your quilt top should be free of embellishments.
- Square your top and backing and make sure your seams all lay flat. This is very important to prevent pleats and puckers. Keep your quilt tops square by squaring your blocks as you go. If you don’t have a border on your quilt, it’s advisable to stay-stitch around the edges of your quilt top to prevent seams from stretching or coming loose. Quilt edges and borders that do not lay flat may cause tucks, pleats or fullness.
- Your batting and backing must be at least 4″ larger than your quilt top on all sides. For example, if your quilt top is 20 x 20, your backing and batting must be at least 28 x 28
- Remove all selvage
- Do not pin or baste your layers together
- Place quilt top, and any other fabrics in a plastic bag to protect during shipping.
- Please contact me by email to let me know that your quilt top is on its way.
Choose backing fabric as carefully as your quilt top fabric. An excellent choice is quilting cotton that complements your quilt top. Flannel and Minky fabrics are options if you are interested in cozy backings.
Pieced backings are very popular these days. To ensure that there are no problems, again, make sure that the top is marked if it is directional.
Backstitch all seams that come to the edge. Press the seams flat. The backing should be 4" to 5" larger than the quilt on all four sizes. This means it should be 8" to 10" larger than the top in both directions. This is critical in order to properly load your quilt on to the longarm machine.
*Note: If you have chosen a Minky, 6" to 7" is preferred to accommodate the tendency for the fabric to stretch. This means your backing should be 12" to 14" larger than the top in both directions.
If you are providing the batting, it also must be 6" to 8" inches larger than the quilt top. Cut it as square as possible. I recommend better quality battings. Some are made with uneven density or are too fragile and may shred in shipping and handling. Others may beard and spoil your quilt. If using black or very dark fabrics, you also may want to consider using black batting.
I currently only have Warm and Natural Cotton Batting at this time. I hope to have more options in the near future.
I cannot stress enough the importance of taking your time and giving your extra attention to this step. Borders are notoriously trouble makers! When measuring your border, go with the adage measure twice, cut once. Take some extra time to pin your borders so the result is a smooth border. Borders that are not smooth can result in puckers once quilted. In some cases, a small dart may be needed to absorb any extra fullness.