I’ve been spending more and more time quilting on the longarm, and having more and more fun with it. I’m finding that I have my own style and what I like doing best are designs that feel organic as I make them. These are a few of my favorites.
I’m keeping more photos of my quilting in this Flickr set, btw. Many customer quilts and a few for display in the shop. (Thanks, everyone who’ve let quilt your quilts!)
Throughout this process I’m learning a lot. And since we get lots of questions about this sort of thing, I thought I’d share some tips for getting the most awesome quilt possible when sending it to a longarm quilter. And for more info on our longarm services, check out this handy info sheet. Here we go.
- Use high quality fabric. Budget fabrics can have a brittle texture. What does that mean for quilting? The needle may break the fibers rather than pass between them, creating tiny holes, and the batting can beard through on the back.
- Square up as you go–each block, each border. You don’t want to have to trim any of that quilt off before the binding goes on!
- Don’t force the borders. When using a pattern’s border measurements, you may end up with a wavy border, or one that’s pulled to tight. This doesn’t mean you did something wrong, but everyone’s seam allowances can vary by a hair, and those hairs can add up to a measurable difference. Your actual quilt dimensions may not be exactly like the pattern, so you’d be forcing the wrong size of border to fit your quilt. Cut your border big, then trim it off/square it up after sewing it on.
- Press from the front, not just the back. Press as you’re piecing, and press the entire quilt again when it’s all finished. You can spot folds in seams from the front that you might not see on the back. You’ll avoid tucks and misshapen-ness in your finished quilt.
- Stay-stitch finished quilt tops by sewing around the entire quilt top with a regular stitch length and 1/8″ seam allowance. This will keep things from stretching and prevent seams from coming unraveled between now and when the quilting is done.
- Trim threads on both the front and back. Don’t pull–you don’t want any seams coming undone! Stray threads showing through your quilt can be distracting. This is more easily done before the quilting catches all those strays.
- Check for loose or undone seams. Sometimes we miss these things, and it’s always easier to re-sew it before it’s quilted than try to repair it after.
- Make quilt backs big and square them up. The quilt back should be at least 4″ larger on each side than the quilt top. This allows for proper loading on the longarm, and gives enough room for the way everything is taken up in the quilting. The sides of the back should also be exactly perpendicular to each other–a lopsided backing will be lopsided when it attaches to the quilt on a longarm. We don’t want any puckering or stretching! Don’t be afraid to use minky, interlock knits, or to mix and match different fabrics for the back. Pieced backs and different textures make for the opposite of boring.
These are also not bad to follow if you’re quilting yourself on a domestic machine or by hand. I do have to mention that for those times when I’m not using the longarm for the quilting, 505 Spray & Fix temporary adhesive is by far my favorite way to baste these days. It’s faster and more reliable than pinning or thread basting, and it washes out. It’s re-positionable so you can adjust and smooth out your quilt as needed, yet it holds strong enough that I can tote around a project and not worry about it shifting.
There you have it. Do you have any of your own tips?