Loading a Quilt on the Longarm

Here’s some photos of how a backing should look when loaded on the longarm machine. I’m using Kathy’s Take 5 Quilt as an example today. Note the fabric is right side down. To make the back the correct size for the quilt top she took primarily horizontal seams. I prefer working with horizontal seams whenever they can be done because they do not draw up and pull like vertical ones. There’s a small vertical seam but it lays nice and flat. I’m using leader grips an snapping the fabric onto my leader edge.

Next I lay the batting on the quilt back. When I measure batting I make it about an inch smaller than the quilt back so I can see the edge of the backing fabric when clamping and advancing the quilt. Notice she has given me the 4″ I asked for. I prefer the backs be no less than 4″ and no greater than 6″ on each side. This helps me know how you want the quilt centered. If you prepare it this way there is less a chance for error in centering or having the back turned. I baste the batting with a horizontal line which should be about 3″ down from the leader now because 1″ is wrapped into the leader grip.

Next I lay the quilt top over the batting right side up. I can easily line up the top edge of the border to the stitched line and make sure its centered properly. I should have at least 4″ of quilt back on both sides now. Once in place I pin it and baste the top. I’ll advance the quilt, smooth and position it then baste along the sides. I full float the quilt top and fold up the bottom portion to get it off the floor and keep it pressed.

This is a nicely pressed, flat top and back which is how they all should look when I load them but alas….many don’t. Extra work by a quilter takes more time therefore special care fees are applied. The quilt is folded in half and you can see that it hangs nice and straight. If it had fullness issues you would see wavys and it would not lay flat.

In the bottom photo you can see I clamp the back to keep it from pleating in the center but do not pull it tight. Your quilter cannot see what’s going on very well underneith. We try to keep an eye out for things with mirrors but the best option is sending them a flat back.

The curtain hangers keep the clamps from pulling down on the sides. The extra fabric on the sides allows my machine to move to the edge without getting hung up on the clamps. Thats why I need 4″ and no less. This is how a quilt should look when loaded.

There is a check list on how to prepare a quilt for your quilter and other details under the ‘Quilt Prep’ tab.

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