Preparing Your Quilt
Proper quilt preparation will save me time and you money. By following the preparation steps below, including Squaring the Borders and Squaring the Backing, you can avoid time delays and "add-on charges".
1. Press your quilt top and backing thoroughly.
2. If your top or backing is directional, place a safety pin at the top of both the quilt and backing fabric so that I know what orientation you prefer.
3. Clip all loose threads from the back and front of your quilt top.
4. Remove all selvages from the backing fabric and square the backing. This is very important and will result in an add-on-charge if I need to do this in order to load the quilt to the frame. See Squaring the Backing below.
5. Your backing and batting must be a minimum of 4" larger than your quilt top on ALL four sides. (8" longer and 8" wider overall) This will help prevent uneven stretching and distortion of the quilt design during the quilting process. If you have less than 8" extra, give me a call and we can discuss options.
6. Do not baste, pin or tack your quilt, batting and backing together. Just fold each piece separately.
7. When seaming your backing, be sure to remove all selvages before seaming. Don't forget to square the finished backing.
8. Be aware that fullness and puckers that have been pieced in CANNOT be quilted out.
9. Embellishments such as buttons and ribbons should be attached after quilting.
10. Avoid handling your quilt by the borders. This can cause them to stretch and become loose and wavy. Excess stretching is one of the main causes of puckering and may not be able to be quilted out.
Squaring the Borders
A square quilt will hang straighter, lie flatter and look better.
The importance of a square quilt top when having your quilting done on a longarm cannot be over emphasized. Some quilts are so off square, quilting on a longarm frame is not possible until repairs are made. Proper squaring of your quilt blocks and borders will save you time and money.
These instructions assume each individual block was squared before assembling the quilt top. If more than one border is to be added, the steps below should be repeated as each border is added to the quilt top.
1. Stitch around the outside edge of your quilt top less than 1/4 inch from the raw edge. This is called stay stitching and will help keep the seams from opening and will stabilize the outside edge of the quilt.
2. Measure the length of your quilt top in three places; down the left side, down the middle and down the right side. Record these three measurements. Add the three length measurements together and divide by 3. This will give you the average length of your quilt top.
3. Use this average measurement when calculating the length of the 2 border strips that you will be adding to the 2 sides of your quilt. Stitch multiple strips together, if needed, using a diagonal or horizontal seam, press to one side. Stay stitch along the outside edge of this border strip, less than 1/4 in from the raw edge to help prevent stretching.
4. To attache the average sized borders, fold the border in half and mark the halfway point with a pin. Do the same with your quilt top. Pin the border to the quilt by first matching halfway points. Pin each end of the border to the end of the quilt. Continue pinning the rest of the border to the quilt easing in fullness of the quilt or border as needed. Stitch using 1/4 inch seam. Repeat with the opposite side border. Press seams to one side.
5. Measure the width of your quilt top and including side borders in three places; across the top, across the middle and across the bottom. Record these three measurements. Add the three width measurements together and divide by 3 to get the average width of your quilt top/borders. Repeat from step #3 above to add the borders to the top and bottom.
6. TIP: Borders cut from the length of grain (parallel to the selvage), lay much flatter and stretch less than those cut cross-grained.
7. If another border is to be added, repeat from step #2 above to determine the new average width and average length of the quilt top (which now includes a set of borders).
Squaring the Backing
If your quilt top is square but your quilt back is not, they will not fit together proper when attached to the quilt frame.
1. Cut the fabric to the size needed for the quilt allowing for a few inches of fabric that may be lost in the squaring process.
2. Remove the selvages leaving a good straight edge and press out the fold.
3. Refold the fabric aligning corner to corner.
4. Adjust the corners until the fold of the fabric drapes evenly and then pin the corners.
5. Trim both ends evenly and at right angles to the fold.
6. This piece of fabric is now square and can be used as the quilt backing. If needed, this piece can be stitched to another squared piece of fabric when a pieced backing is needed.
7. Now square the pieced backing starting from step #3 above. If you started with squared pieces, this final squaring should be quite simple.
If you have any questions or comments regarding these instructions please feel free to call or email.