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Tips for Long Arm Quilting

You've got your quilt top and backing all ready, so what's the next step in preparing your quilt for long arm quilting? Here are a few Do's and Don'ts, tips for long arm quilting.

Tips for prepping your quilt layers

You can make your long arm quilting easier by properly preparing your quilt layers:

  • Both the batting and the backing should be 6"-8" wider and longer than the quilt top
  • Make sure the quilt top lays flat!
  • Clip all loose threads and fabric, and trim dog-ears
  • Repair raveling seams and stay-stitch quilt top edges

When to add embellishments

Embellishments (crystals, buttons, beads, etc.) can enhance the final look of your quilt and in some cases are definitely required. However, our tips, don't add the embellishments to your quilt prior to quilting as they might get broken during the quilting process. They could also break the needle and damage the quilt.

Press backing seams

Because there’s no way you can predict exactly where seam lines on the backing will fall in relation to the quilt top seams and because most seams on the quilt top are pressed in one direction, pressing backing seams open prevents bulk where seams might overlap. Use a 1⁄2" seam or a true 1⁄4" seam (not a scant 1⁄4") for the backing seams.

Using bed sheets to back your quilts? Don’t Do It!

Denise Schober's tip: Sheets have a high thread count which forces the needle in your machine to break the thread in the sheet as it pierces through. This leaves holes in your backing and diminishes the stability of your sheet that you are using for the backing. Keep sheets on the bed not on the quilt.

Quilting fabric has a looser weave, which allows your needles to easily slide between the threads and keeps your quilt backing intact.

Changing the needle does not prevent this from happening. You will also find that the sheetmay pucker once it is removed from the frame.

Don't baste your layers together

When loading your layers onto your quilt frame, they cannot be basted together. So, save yourself the time and DON'T baste them prior to loading onto your long arm or taking to your quilter.

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