Prepare your quilt

Every long arm quilter will have slightly different requirements for preparing quilts to be loaded on their machines. Whether or not you choose to send your quilts to me for finishing, I hope that you will find these tips helpful. Anything you do to help make your quilt as trouble free to finish as possible will be time well spent for both you and your quilter. Also, many quilters charge extra for performing these services for you, so you can often save money by doing some simple preparation in advance.

Quilting on a long arm frame is very different from quilting on a domestic machine, and as a result, you’ll find that there are many additional steps and watch-outs for you to prepare successfully.  The good news is that you never have to baste again, and once you get the hang of it, preparing your quilts will come more naturally.

Click below to find a great tutorial on how to add borders correctly.

  1. Your quilt top must be square to be loaded and quilted successfully.  If you have added borders to your quilt as shown below, this will not be an issue.  If you did not add borders or have done so incorrectly, this could cause problems.  Measure the opposite sides of your quilt to see how closely they match.  If the opposite sides are off by more than 1-2″, you MUST correct this before sending it to be quilted.  If your quilt is wonky to begin with, most likely it will come back that way as well.

  2. If you want to embellish your quilt top with beads, buttons, or other objects, wait until the quilt comes back from the quilter.  I cannot quilt through these items and they prevent us from loading the quilt so that it is flat & square.

  3. Press your top flat, from the back, so you can direct the seams correctly.

  4. Trim any loose threads, especially those that may show under lighter areas of your blocks.

  5. Inspect your quilt top for any seams which have come loose, and repair them.  We quilt at high speeds, and any holes or open seams can catch in our machine’s foot and rip the quilt. You don’t want that!

  6. Stay-stitch seams that are on the edge of your quilt. Stay-stitching is simply adding 3-4 stitches across the seam, about 1/8″ from the edge, to keep the seams from pulling apart.  If your top does not have a border or the border is completely pieced, you could also baste around the entire perimeter of the quilt.  Your quilt top will be stretched and rolled when it is loaded on the machine, and you don’t want those seams coming apart in the process.

  7.  If your quilt has a definite “top” edge, pin a note to the quilt there.  That will help the quilter determine the best way to load your quilt so that the design will face the correct direction.

  8. DO NOT layer your quilt top, batting, and  backing together or baste them in any way.  The quilt gets loaded on three separate roller bars, and we cannot load the quilt if it is already basted, especially if it has been basted with pins.