Getting Your Quilt Ready For The Longarmer


A guide to preparing a quilt for a longarmer for quilting services. There are things you must and must not do to get the best results from your provider.

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Getting Your Quilt Ready For The Longarmer

Every quilter seems to have a favorite part of the journey called quilt making. Many relish the hunt for fabric and patterns, ultimately amassing a sizeable "stash". Others enjoy the construction process, from measuring and cutting to piecing and pressing. When it comes to layering the back, batting and quilt top and quilting them all together some will embrace the challenge, while the remainder want to run in the other direction. That's when it's time to find a good longarm quilter!

Note: This article is a favorite among quilting service providers because they like to share with their quilters. Feel free to share it with your customers.

Getting Your Quilt Ready For The Longarmer


Selecting A Longarmer

Start by searching QuiltingHub for Quilting Services. If none are close enough to you, many quilt shops maintain a list of area longarmers and their contact information, and some shops offer longarm services. Ask quilting friends or guild members for recommendations as well.

Once you have found a longarmer contact them and inquire about their services. Do they have a website or Facebook page displaying their work? How do they charge? (Most longarmers charge by the square inch, with the least expensive being an "all over" or edge-to-edge design, with the price going up for specific block and border designs, backgrounds fills and dense custom quilting.) Ask what their turnaround time is. Some may be as short as a week or two, while others in high demand may be weeks or months. Keep in mind that late spring (quilt shows and graduations) and fall (holiday gifts) are longarmers busiest times.

Each longarmer will have a "to do" list for you to prepare your quilt before dropping it off. While many are the same from quilter to quilter, each longarmer has their own requirements.

Here is a general idea of what to expect.

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Quilt Top

Square up the quilt top. You want the top and bottom width measurements to be the same, and the two side measurements to match as well. This is extremely important so that they will roll evenly on the rollers and the end result will be a square, not skewed, quilt.

Clip loose threads on both the front and back of the quilt.

Give the entire top a nice pressing. Make sure border seams are pressed flat.

Check for and remove any stray pins left in from piecing.

Pin a note on top edge of quilt that says TOP EDGE including measurements and your name.

Fold loosely and put in bag or box for transport, or hang on hanger.

preparing the quilt top for quilting


Quilt Back

Make sure your quilt backing is larger than the quilt top. Most longarmers want at least 4-6" in extra width and 6-8" in length. The heavier or denser the quilting is the more the quilt top and back "quilt up" . It's never a good thing to get to the bottom end of the quilt and have more quilt top than backing left!

Square up the quilt back. Again, top and bottom edges should measure the same, as should the two sides. Wide back fabric is ideal since it helps you avoid seaming the back. If you need to piece the back it is best to have seams running horizontally, or side to side, rather than lengthwise. This is because when the backing gets rolled up on the roller a vertical seam rolls on itself, getting thicker with each roll. This results in a "lump" that skews the entire quilt back and can result in undesired fullness that won't lay flat.

Pin a note on the back wth measurements

Finally, give the backing a good press.

Pin a note on the top edge of backing that says TOP EDGE (especially important with directional prints ) and include measurements and your name.

Fold loosely or hang on hanger.

preparing the quilt back for quilting



Talk to your longarmer about the look and feel you want...soft and light, warm and cozy, perhaps lots of dimension to the quilting. She will be able to help you choose the appropriate batting. Often longarmers carry batting for their customers.

Batting also gets "quilted up" in the process, so make sure you know how much extra your longarmer requires.

If you purchase a packaged batting take it out of the package and pop it in the dryer on low heat for five minutes or so. It will help relax the folds. Refold very loosely.

quilt batting


Final Tips

Discuss any ideas about the quilting itself that you have with your longarmer . She will also have design suggestions to share with you.

Once you have handed your quilt over to be quilted it is time to start on the next one. It's what quilters do!

final tips


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The fabric on the back of a Quilt Sandwich (Top, Batting and Backing).

Same As: Lining
The layer in the middle of a quilt sandwich between the Top and Backing layers consisting of wool, polyester, blends, silk, or cotton.

Same As: Stuffing, Filling, Wadding, Filler
The basic unit of a quilt top, usually square but can be rectangular or other shapes. Blocks can be pieced, appliqued or plain.
A strip of fabric or pieced strip of fabric joined to the edges of the inner quilt and used to frame it.
Directional Prints
Printed fabrics where there is a clear direction to the print, either straight or at an angle.
The process of assembling quilt blocks from pieces of fabric sewn along their edges to form a whole.

See Also: English Paper Piecing, Assembly Piecing, Machine Piecing, Chain Piecing, Paper Piecing, Hand Piecing
Method of using an iron to press seams and blocks. This means simply pressing downwards on the seam with the iron from above and not moving the iron back and forth which can distort the block or seam.
Picking a hot iron up off your fabric or quilt top and then putting it down in another place to remove the wrinkles. When you press your fabric, you do not slide the hot iron.

See Also: Ironing
Quilt Top
The top layer of a quilt Sandwich.
A quilter's personal collection of fabrics. Buying more fabric is adding to your stash.
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