Crystal Smythe     -    Tecumseh, Michigan    -    517.423.9500    -   longarmlyrics@gmail.com

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long arm
machine quilting

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Updated
1/14/2011

 

How to Prepare Your Quilt Top
for Machine Quilting

Accuracy
Accuracy while creating your quilt top is the single most important issue to insure the best results for machine quilting. The elements of the quilt (top, batting and backing) are secured to three rails which are exactly parallel to one another in addition to side clamps to stabilize the backing. For this reason, the top and backing must be square to ensure a satisfactory outcome.
Using fine, strong thread for piecing (my favorite is
Aurifil 50 wt) insures accurate seam allowances, as well as pressing (I love Best Press Clear Starch Alternative)
Borders
Borders that are not properly measured and applied may appear wavy (slightly too long), or pinched (slightly too short). In either case, quilting will not fix it. For accurate borders, measure your quilt in three places along the length - add these three measurements and divide by 3 to get the average. This is the length you should cut your side borders. Mark the center of the quilt side, and the center of the border - line up at center point and pin every few inches along the whole length of the border, easing as necessary so the ends line up. Repeat the process for the top and bottom borders (now you are including the side borders in your measurements). 
Backing and Batting
Backing and batting should measure 8" larger than quilt top. 
Backing fabric should be 100% cotton (please, no bed sheets), seamed (remove the selveges), squared and pressed. When choosing backing fabric, think about color and contrast in relation to the quilt top, and try to choose something that coordinates or is similar - this provides the best results when choosing thread color and type for the top and bottom - the closer, the better.

If your backing is a very dark fabric, please consider a black or gray batting. Longarm machines require the use of very large needles, and even with the sharpest needle in the world, some batting may poke through to the back. To avoid white dots here and there showing through on your backing fabric, a dark batt may be just the answer.

(Tip: Torn versus cut edges - tearing the fabric for borders and backing can create a couple of problems - it can damage and distort the edge, and the raveling threads can interfere with the rollers and movement of the machine. However, with wide backing fabrics, tearing to square the backing is the method I prefer - please be sure that your cut yardage will allow for squaring by tearing.)
Finishing Touches
Press quilt top and backing fabric well and trim all threads. Carefully fold accordian-style (length of quilt) and hang on a padded hanger or fold carefully.
Binding
If you would like your binding to be machine sewn to the front of your quilt top, cut your fabric in 2 inch strips (width of fabric) and attach at right angles. Cut one strip more than the measurement around the perimeter of your quilt top. Press in half (right side out) to create a doubled strip measuring  1 inches.
How to Measure Your Quilt
  • measure the length in inches
  • measure the width in inches
  • multiply the length X the width to get square inches

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