Are you preparing your quilt for longarm quilting? There’s a little bit of prep work you’ll need to do befor sending your quilt off for quilting. Here are a few things you can do to make your longarm experience go smoothly, both for your and your longarm quilter:
Step 1: Clean & Press
We spend a lot of time creating our quilt tops, and life happens along the way. Once your quilt top is complete, it may have accumulated a bit of pet hair, loose threads, and even the occasional stain. Make sure your quilt top and backing are clean: lint roll the pet hair, trim threads on the front and back, and spot clean any stains. Then give the whole quilt and the backing a good press, pressing the seams flat.
MQ Tip: Need extra help with a stain? Check out our June 23, 2022 blog post: Remove the 4 Toughest Stains Without Ruining Your Quilt
Step 2: Stay stitching
Stay stitching helps to stabilize your quilt. It prevents fraying and keeps seams at the edges of your quilt from coming apart. It also helps to minimize stretching and distortion of the edges during the quilting process. Once you have completed your piecing, add a line of stitching ⅛” around all four sides of your quilt top- some quilters call it their “victory lap” around the quilt!
Step 3: Backing & Batting
One of the most important aspects for preparing your quilt for the longarm is the backing and batting. Both the backing and batting need to be larger than your quilt top in order to be longarm quilted. Prepare a backing fabric that is at least 4-6 inches larger on all sides than your quilt top. For example, if your quilt top measures 50” wide by 60” high, both the batting and backing need to be at least 58” x 68” in size.
If your longarm quilter does not offer batting (most do), choose a batting that suits your desired level of loft and warmth. A good rule of thumb is to never choose batting with more than 20% polyester as it will not hold up as well over time or through several washes. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for prepping the batting.
MQ Tip: Need help choosing your batting? Read our article about choosing batting in our Texture issue, available October 2023!
Step 4: labEL & Document
Using documentation throughout the quilting process helps to keep track of your quilt and your quilting desires. There are lots of options for helping you with this, but the new My Quilts App (free) makes it super easy and convenient. Label your quilt top and backing by pinning a note to each with your name, contact information, and any specific information you think your longarmer might need. For example, if your quilt has a definite top and bottom, note the orientation of the quilt so they know which end to load first.
Take clear photos of your quilt top, backing, and any special details or considerations your longarm quilter needs to be aware of. Send the photos to your longarmer with your notes, and keep copies for yourself.
Step 5: communication
As with any working relationship, communication is key! Check with your longarmer to see what preparations they prefer and what works best for them. If you have any imperfections in your quilt, tell your longarmer! A seam that has a less than perfect ¼” seam allowance, bulky seams at the center of a star, a border that’s a bit wonky… these all happen to the best of us. Point these out to your longarm quilter. That way they can at least be aware of the problem while they’re quilting, and in some cases, they may have a fix for it.
If you have any questions or concerns about the longarm process for preparing your quilt for longarm quilting, just ask! Longarm quilters love to talk about quilting. The better you communicate, the better your quilt will be. And enjoy the process!
Written and Prepared by: Amy Fisher