preparing your quilt
getting the most out of your longarming experience
Construct Your Flimsy
- An accurate ¼” seam allowance is important. The longarm quilting frame puts more tension on the seams in your flimsy than quilting it on a domestic sewing machine. Very narrow seams run the risk of being pulled apart while being rolled on the frame.
- Check for open seams and repair. **Note: I do not inspect your flimsy for open seams before loading on the frame. If I notice an open seam while quilting, I will stabilize it as best as possible and mark the area with bright thread so you can easily locate it to hand stitch it closed.
- Hint: The squarer your flimsy, the better the finished quilt.
- A wavy border is the most common problem longarmers face. I guarantee that if you use the “Slap and Sew” method, you will have wavy borders, resulting in a quilt that will not hang or lay flat. Depending on how much excess fabric is in the border, it may be necessary to pleat or tuck the fabric. If you make a habit of using the “Measure and Sew” method, you will be much happier with the finished quilt. Here is a great tutorial showing the difference between the two methods: Quilt Borders Tutorial – Understanding the Why – From My Carolina Home
- Stay stitch around the outside edge to keep seams from unravelling and to lessen stretching from handling. Keep the stay stitching 1/8” from the edge to ensure it will be hidden with the binding.
- Iron your finished flimsy thoroughly, ensuring all the seams are flat and pressed in the proper directions.
- Trim loose threads, especially any dark threads that will show through light, neighbouring fabrics. Hint: To minimize fraying, it helps to starch your fabrics before cutting.
- Embellishments (buttons, charms, pins, etc.) must be sewn on after the quilting is complete.
- Scalloped edges – if your scallops are being cut into the fabric (rather than a quilt pattern such as a double wedding ring), do not cut the scallops until the flimsy is quilted. Mark the cut lines clearly for custom quilting, so I know where to quilt (marking is not required for edge to edge).
- Applique and embroidery – no special preparation needed. Quilting options will be discussed at intake.
prepare your backing
I have a small selection of quilt backings available at very reasonable prices (108” Moda Grunge, 120” Premium Muslin, 60” Fireside).
- Backing must be a minimum of 5” bigger on all sides – so for example, your 60” x 72” flimsy needs backing that measures 70” x 82”.
- Leave the selvedges on wideback fabric to provide a straight edge to load on the frame. Wideback is rarely loaded straight on the bolt, so it’s a good habit to buy extra (an additional 10”) to ensure it will be big enough once the cut edges are squared up.
- When piecing 45” wide quilting cotton, sew the selvedges together with a 1½” seam allowance, then cut off 1” of the selvedges, leaving a ½” seam. Press the seam to one side….I know some quilters prefer to press the seams open on pieced backings, but a seam pressed to one side is much stronger.
- When piecing 60” wide Fireside, Minky or Micro Fleece, sew the selvedges together (taking into consideration the nap of the fabric!) with a 2½” seam allowance, then cut off 1” of the selvedges, leaving a 1½” seam that is left open (no need to iron). A wide seam lays flat and smooth compared to a ½” seam that results in a very noticeable bump.
- To Wash or Not To Wash can be controversial in the quilting world 😕, but it is preferable to wash your backing fabric before having your quilt longarmed. This will remove the sizing, which allows the weave of the fabric to move out of the way of the needle, resulting in less punctured threads.
prepare your batting
I carry a good selection of quilt batting at very reasonable prices (Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 natural, bleached and black in various widths, Hobbs Heirloom 100% Wool, Pellon Nature’s Touch 80/20 natural and bleached, Pellon 100% bleached cotton).
- batting should be the same measurements as your backing.
- If you have packaged, pre-cut batting, just bring it as is. I will cut it to size as I load and return all the cutoffs to you with your finished quilt.
Do not baste the three layers of your quilt sandwich together! Bring them as three separate pieces.