How To Prepare a Quilt for a Longarm Quilter

21st Jan 2019

Piecing Tips

  • If you pre-wash one fabric, be sure to pre-wash all fabrics in your quilt, including all top and backing fabric, and remember to account for shrinkage when purchasing. We recommend 6% for cottons and 10% for flannels.
    • If you do not pre-wash any fabrics and if they shrink, they will all shrink together in the first wash of your completed quilt.
  • Remember to steam press and square as you piece and trim or pull off any dangling threads.
  • Twisted seams cause bulk which can be difficult to quilt over. Avoid twisted seams by pressing to one side and alternating the direction with each row.
  • If the outside border or edge of your quilt top is comprised of biased edges or has many seams, please be sure to sew a stay stitch around the perimeter of your quilt top.
  • If you have borders, make sure they lie flat as wavy borders could result in tucks. There are many online tutorials for avoiding wavy borders.
  • If your quilt is designed to have rounded corners or scalloped edges, we suggest waiting until after the quilting is completed before rounding.
  • Please wait to put embellishments like beads or buttons on until after the quilting is complete.
  • We also have a great selection of fabric care products that are worth perusing.

Backing Tips

  • Longarm quilters require more fabric than domestic machine quilters. Please ask your longarmer how much extra they prefer. We ask for a minimum of 8" in addition to the dimensions of your quilt top. For quilts larger than a queen, we ask for at least 10" extra. For example, if your quilt top is 90" x 90", we ask that you provide backing that is at least 100" x 100".
  • If you prewashed your quilt top fabric, be sure to prewash the backing fabric too. Remember to account for shrinkage when purchasing. We recommend purchasing at least 8% additional fabric.
  • Don't forget to treat your backing with as much care as you do the front.
  • Consider using a wide back fabric to save time and money!
  • Use quality fabric - bed sheets are not recommended.
    • If your backing is anything other than cotton, please call us to verify we can use it on our machines.
  • Steam press to remove any wrinkles and folds; be sure to secure any seams and to square your backing.
  • Always trim off all selvages before using that edge on a seam!
  • Remember to stay stitch any biased edges if necessary.
  • Please do not expect your backing to be perfectly centered. (For more on that, please read through Adding to Your Backing for a Longarm Quilter.)

Batting Tips

  • Longarm quilters require more batting than domestic machine quilters. Please ask your longarmer how much extra they prefer. We ask for a minimum of 8" in addition to the dimensions of your quilt top. For quilts larger than a queen, we ask for at least 10" extra. For example, if your quilt top is 90" x 90", we ask that you provide batting that is at least 100" x 100".
  • We can help you make a decision if you're unsure which batting type you would prefer.
  • Some things to consider:
    • Is your quilt top mostly dark colors or does it have a lot of white?
    • Does the recipient live in a cold or warm climate?
    • Do you expect the quilt to get a lot of use, or is it a display piece?
    • Are you looking for a lot of poof, or loft?
    • Did you pre-wash your top and backing?
    • Will your quilting be more open or dense?
    • Are you looking for warmth or weight?
    • Is the recipient prone to allergies?

Thread Tips

  • Think about whether you want your thread to blend or contrast with your quilt top.
    • Blended thread can really highlight the quilting pattern when combined with a high loft batting, whereas contrast thread can distract from the quilt top.
    • Conversely, blended thread can become so blended that the quilting is lost in your top, and contrast thread can really compliment the quilt top by adding another color element.
  • If your top has many different colors, consider a neutral color that takes on an almost chameleon color.
  • Variegated threads are also a great option.
  • The thread color for your top and bottom should match to reduce 'pokeys', (when the bobbin thread shows through on your quilt top).

Binding Tips

  • Cutting your fabric on bias will produce a stronger binding, though it's not necessary for straight edges.
  • It is recommended that you make a bias binding for quilts with scalloped or curved corners.
  • Some people find that staystitching around the perimeter of the finished quilt before attaching the binding makes the process easier for them.

Quilt Show Tips

  • Be sure to thoroughly read and follow the instructions provided to you when registering for a quilt show.
  • Remember to give credit to your longarm quilter when entering your finished quilt in a show and, if it was a computerized pattern, give credit to the pattern and/or designer. If your quilt was finished here at Heartbeat, we can find this information for you, if you do not still have your receipt.