- Your quilt top should be clean and please PRESS your quilt top well. Please make sure that all seams are pressed flat on the back and facing in the desired direction. (This is particularly important if the quilting style you choose requires Stitch in the Ditch for stabilization or effect.)
- CUT OFF all trailing threads from the back of the quilt top. If there are light areas on your top, dark threads can show through your quilt top.
- If your quilt top is directional, INDICATE THE TOP of the quilt with a piece of paper marked “TOP” and attach with safety pin.
- Please make sure all seams are secure. Make a final check for any seams that need to be re-stitched.
- Do not baste your quilt sandwich together, all layers get mounted on the quilt frame separately.
- It is very important that your top is square. When sewing on your borders make sure that you measure the middle of your quilt and cut your borders to this measurement. DO NOT pin and then sew on your border without measuring. This results in a border that is too full for the body of your quilt and does not lay flat. Here is a great tutorial for sewing borders- BORDERS
- For quilts that have no borders, please do a row of stitching about 1/4″ from all outside edges. This prevents seams from popping open and also helps to keep your quilt stabilized.
- Please make sure it is similar to the thread color being used on the top. Having a dark fabric on the back and light quilt top will result in a less than desirable stitch. I use the same color thread on the top as on the bottom and do not use contrasting threads.
- Fabrics need to be 100% cotton to get the best stitch results. Polyester fabric does not produce proper stitch quality. Please do not use sheets as the higher thread count can cause skipped stitches and other irregularities in the stitch quality.
- If your quilt top fabric has been prewashed, you should prewash the backing fabric also.
- Remove selvages from backing fabric before seaming. Press all seams open.
- Backings need to be at least 4″ larger on ALL sides of the quilt. For example . . . if you have a 60″ x 60″ quilt, you will need to supply backing in the minimum size of 70″ x 70″. This will allow the needed 4″ on all sides of the quilt.
- Please make sure the backing is also square. If using a wide back fabric such as 108″, make sure you tear the fabric across from selvage to selvage. This width of fabric can be quite off grain over such a wide area.
Your batting or mine . . .You may bring your own favourite batting or purchase your batting from me. Keep in mind that your batting needs to be 4″ longer and 4″ wider than your quilt top on all four sides. Please do not cut your battings if they are packaged. Send in the original packaging.
If you need me to supply batting for you I carry Quilter’s Dream 100% Cotton in Natural Select and it is priced at $0.50 an inch (purchase only the length you need) and White $75 for a King Size. King size can be cut into quarters and the price for a 60″ x 60″ piece is $20. These pieces work well for baby quilts that need a nice crisp white batting.
Here are some examples of batting that you can bring with your quilt:
100% Cotton with scrim
This organic batting is reinforced with scrim allowing quilting up to 8″ apart. The antique puckered look is achieved with cotton batting. Washable with a 3-5% shrinkage rate.
Cotton and Polyester Blends
This blended batting is a blend usually of 80% Cotton and 20% Polyester. It is lightly needle punched and can be quilted up to 6″ apart. Sometimes the blends are also 70% Cotton and 30% Polyester.
Cotton and Polyester Blend Dark
This batting is the same as above, but dyed black to eliminate bearding on dark fabrics. It is excellent with red, maroon, brown, green, navy, black and other deep and vivid fabric colors.
This batting is a magnificent washable wool. Wool breathes better than other fibres and is a natural insulator, maintaining comfort in all seasons. Quilting can be up to 4″ apart. Wash in COLD water.
Bamboo batting is generally a blend of 50% Natural Bamboo 50% Cotton and can be quilted up to 8″ apart. It is similar to cotton batting once washed. Bamboo is a quick growing plant, which makes this renewable batting an excellent choice for the environment.
Polyester batting is washable and non-allergenic. Because of it’s puffy loft it can be quilted up to 10″ apart. Comes in white or black. Black batting is wonderful with dark coloured fabrics.
All of these battings are favourites as they create spectacular results in the weight and feel of the finished quilt. Some of the high quality brand names are Quilters Dream, Hobbs.
THREADS AND TENSION
I use only the best quality 100% cotton or 100% polyester threads for machine quilting. Both of them offer beautiful colour selections, which will blend perfectly with your fabrics. Using the same color of thread on the top and back eliminates the visual effect of “pokies”. Pokies are the little tiny dots you will, no doubt, see when stitching two different colors of threads together into a quilt top. Pokies are, in essence, the place where both of your threads lock together within your fabric. Pokies also occur when using a variegated thread on the top and bottom. There is almost no way to eliminate this effect when using 2 different colours of thread on the top and bottom of your quilt.
WHAT IS LONG ARM MACHINE QUILTING?
A long arm quilting machine is a large sewing machine that has 360 degree movement. It is guided by handles with controls and moves across the quilt top. The reach and throat can vary – some machines reach as far as 30″. Throats can be up to 12″ which makes it possible to handle thick quilt batting. The machine sits on wheels, which move along rails embedded in a very long table. The quilt top, batting and backing are attached separately to a series of rollers. Side clamps help ensure a wrinkle-free quilt sandwich.
Long arm machines are designed so that an entire quilt can be quickly and easily mounted without taking time to baste or pin the three layers together. The backing, batting and quilt top are each loaded by mounting and rolling them separately onto roller bars. The sewing machine is positioned over the layers. The operator stands opposite the head of the machine rather than at the side of the machine. In most long arm quilting systems, the machine floats on a carriage system that allows the operator to manipulate it easily in any direction over the surface of the quilt. Quilting machines complete up to 3500 stitches per minute in contrast to a domestic machine, which averages 750 stitches per minute. Long-arm quilting is much faster and less awkward than other methods.
Machine quilting is not intended to replace hand quilting. There is a place for both. Machine quilting, however can be more durable, and in many cases, totally unique. Quilting by use of a long arm machine gives the creator of the top more time to spend doing the part of the quilting process they enjoy most – designing and piecing and of course shopping for more fabric so you can do more designing and piecing.
I use a Gammill Classic machine that can accommodate quilts up to 100″ wide.