|Farmgirl Vintage quilt minus borders.|
Your quilt top is pieced. Now what?
Have you ever wondered what you should do before you send your quilt out to be longarmed by a professional? Each longarm quilter has their own preferences, but there are some guidelines that I can give you to follow that should be helpful.
I have been a professional longarm quilter for 9 years, and, believe me, I think after 1000 quilts, I have pretty much seen it all. I could go on for quite some time on what NOT to do, but, I will focus on the positive :)
Here's a good list to follow:
1. Trim all strings on the back side of the quilt. This is especially important if you have used a light background where dark string will show through on the top when it is quilted!
2. Make sure that you have added your borders properly and that your quilt top is as square and as flat as possible! Yes, some things will "quilt out" and No...some things will not!
3. If you have piano keys, small piecing to the edge, or loose seams at the edge, do a stay stitch all the way around the quilt top to stabilize and keep those seams tight when it is placed on the frame. This brings me to another tip: Use a 2.0 or smaller stitch length! So many times, I see seams that have used a 2.5 (standard default setting on many machines) where the seams are pulling apart or there is thread showing in the seams. This is not good because those seams may pop open the first time the quilt is washed. Also, if you plan to take the quilt to a fair, the judges will downgrade you if they can see thread showing in your seams.
4. Your backing should be 5-6 inches bigger on all four sides to account for rolling and clamping it into the frame.
5. You backing needs to be perfectly square and flat. If it is pieced, this is absolutely necessary. Once the backing is loaded and in the frame, I cannot manipulate or change what is going on in the back of the quilt. Pleating will occur if it is not flat and square. For this reason, (and because it is cheaper) wide backings are a great choice.
6. If you do seam your backings, the seams should be planned so that they run parallel to the bars on the longarm. Vertical seams are much more likely to pucker or create problems that horizontal seams.
7. Remove selvedges. The weave in the selvedges is tighter and different from the rest of the fabric. If you do not remove selvedges, the area near them may pucker when the quilt is washed.
8. Batting should be slightly smaller than the backing, but still 4-5" larger on all four sides than the top.
9. If all the fabrics in your top have been pre-washed, then your backings should also be pre-washed.
10. Finally, press the top and the backing neatly and hang on a hanger that you do not want returned!
If you follow these guidelines, your quilt will be ready for the longarm quilter to create a beautiful and trouble-free end result.