Preparing Your Quilt for the Long-arm Quilter
Good for you! Now that all your hard work is completed, let’s get it ready for quilting. If you've chosen your long-arm quilter, you need to make sure that your quilt is ready to be quilted.
First, you'll need to square it up - all sides should be straight, so when it’s pinned to the machine it’ll be even. If not, then as the long-arm rolls the quilt, it will get crooked and the design will be wonky. So please be sure to straighten your edges.
Trim all loose threads. This is important because sometimes the threads will poke through the seams. Also, they can be seen through light colored blocks, especially white. That makes for an unsightly mess. You’ve been too diligent this far with your masterpiece to see errant threads swimming through the layers.
Lock your seams. Make sure the seams are secure so they don’t open or unravel when the quilt is pulled tightly onto the rollers of the long-arm. The reason it needs to be secure on the rollers is so there won’t be any baggy or loose material to create puckers on the finished quilt.
Ironing, or pressing, is also important. I’m sorry to tell you that you'll have to bring out your iron again...but, you need to. This just polishes off the hard work you've already completed. The seams need to be smooth and flat so bumps and lumps aren’t in your quilt. Try to have the seams going in the correct direction and not overlapping. There will be a few that have a mind of their own but be deliberate in ironing. This will pay off with a nice even surface to quilt on.
Now for the backing and batting, not as glamorous as the top, but necessary nonetheless. These both need to be cut 3” to 4” larger than the top, on all four sides. This allows room for the top to stretch as it progresses from one roller to the other while being quilted. There’s nothing worse than getting to the bottom of the quilt and there isn’t enough batting or backing. One time I skimped on the batting and had to sew a strip on to the existing batting while it was on the long-arm before I could finish the job. That was the last time I did that.
Mark the top and bottom of all three pieces so the quilter knows which way you want it sewn together. This is very important if you want your fabric going a certain direction. A simple note pinned to the edge is fine.
Have a discussion with your chosen quilter as to the choice of thread color. It may not seem important but some thought needs to go into this. Do you want the thread to blend in or make a statement? Do you want to showcase the quilt or the quilting? Or both? Should the thread blend with the back or the front? There’s a little planning involved. I once made two scrappy Broken Dish quilts. On the first quilt, the thread color blended with the fabric. I chose a prominent thread color for the secoond quilt. They were totally different.
Be sure to talk to your chosen quilter about their preferences. Some will upcharge if the prep work isn't done because now they have to do it. I hope you have found these tips helpful and I'm sure you'll enjoy your finished quilt!
If you're in need of a long-arm quilter, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll get back to you soon with our prices and an estimated turn around time.