Tips...

Machine quilting enhances a quilt, therefore quality and service in assisting you in the success of your finished project is very important to myself.  
Most quilt tops can be quilted in the condition they are received.  Proper preparation of your quilt top and quilt back is essential to a good result, so please read the following instructions and tips carefully.



QUILT CONDITION:
Condition of your quilt, starts with proper piecing!  Take your time and have fun!  Don’t rush your quilt. This can result in your quilt not being square by several issues: not cutting your fabric to the exact measurements, seams not being sewn properly with uneven seam allowances, blocks not squared up before being joined to the next block, border measurement is too small or large to pieced blocks.

  • Layers - when you bring your top in for machine quilting, please keep the layers separated.  Do not baste layers together or sandwich the layers (top, batting, backing) together, as they need to be separated when being placed on the longarm machine.

  • Direction - always indicate which is the top and bottom so that if there is a particular pattern, I will know what way it needs to go in order to match to same direction of backing.

  • Pressing - press the completed top side well,  as this will help eliminate little folds.

If your quilt top will not lay flat, it probably will not quilt out flat without puckers.   If there are puckers already in your piecing, they will STILL be there (and may be quilted down) when you get your quilt back.

  • Borders - if your borders are too small for the center of the quilt it can cause bagginess, puckers, or pleats. Quilts can only be pulled as tight as those borders will allow us to and the quilt center may still be baggy and have to be eased in or may have puckers or pleats.

If your borders are too long for your quilt center, because they have not been measured properly and attached properly, they will flare and ripple and therefore cannot guarantee that they will be quilted without puckering or pleats occurring. We can only pull the borders as tight as the quilt center will allow us to in this case.

  • Seam breaks/poor piecing  -  please examine your quilted top to make sure your seams have a continuous seam.  By this I mean sometimes the bottom layer of fabric moves away from you while piecing, and that edge that is barely caught in the piecing seam, which that can then open or rip during the any of the quilting process.

If these unfinished seams are left unchecked and open, the hopping foot can fall right into that open space and either rip open more of the seam or stitch the open space to the quilt top and it is very hard to undo and correct it without seeing a flaw.
Make sure all seams that meet the edge of your top, are secure. The ends of these seams need to be back-tacked so they will not open when the top is stretched for quilting.

THREADS:
Examine your quilt top, from the front and back and cut off any trailing threads and fabric edges that are fraying.  Trailing threads on the under-side of your top may shadow through light colored areas of your quilt.  Once the quilt is quilted, these mis-placed threads from dark unravelling fabrics or untrimmed threads from piecing are almost impossible to remove and do not look nice!

EMBELLISHMENT FREE:

  • Any embellishments such as buttons, bows or beads, etc, should be saved until AFTER the machine quilting is finished.
  • Embellishments can keep the quilt from rolling up right on the rollers, so your quilt won't advance straight and square, and the tension can be off due to bulky spots.
  • The hopping foot can break buttons and beads if they are in the way, or prevent quilting from being as close to an embellishment-zone as you'd like it to be.
  • Fusible appliqués do speed up the appliqué process, but in some cases is NOT machine-quilting-friendly.  Where quilts come in with layer upon layer of fabric shapes all fused together making the quilt top extremely stiff we can quilt in the background around where the fusible shapes are adhered, sometimes CAN NOT be quilted through them.
  • Some fusibles lead to skipped stitches, bent and broken needles. Broken needles can poke a hole through your quilt.


BATTING:

  • If you provide your own batting, please be sure your batting is at least 4 to 6 inches larger both in width and length than your quilt top.  This gives us a 2 to 3” margin all around the outside. The reason for this is if your top is not square, the extra batting will allow us to play a bit to keep the top squared and assure there is enough batting.
  • I do carry a medium weight 80/20 Hobbs batting and a poly batting.  Please see pricing page.
  • There are many kinds of batting available. Most can be used with ease on a longarm machine. You want to pay attention to the thickness and how stretchy the batting is. The thinner the batting, the more likely it will tear, stretch and cling when advancing the quilt, and is hard to keep smooth.


 BACKING:

  • Be sure your backing fabric is at least 6 inches larger both in width and length than your quilt top. This gives us a 3” margin all around the outside.  The reason for this is: if your top is not square, the extra backing will allow us to play a bit to keep the top squared and assure there is backing fabric on the back, also to attach to the rollers and allowing for side clamps.
  • Make sure that your back is pieced, squared up and pressed flat before sending with your top.
  • Do not use selvedges as your seam, as these are tighter woven then the rest of the fabric, which will result in your backing to sag.   Press the seams on your quilt back OPEN. It makes for a smoother backing with no seam ridges.
  • Please be aware that if you piece several random pieces of your stash together to use as a backing that the same rules apply to backings as they do to tops. If your backing is not square it will not roll up right and there will be sagging, bagging and puckers that are unavoidable.
  • Be sure to check both sides of your pieced back for trailing threads that might shadow through.
  • Try NOT to have a center back panel framed by even borders on all four sides for a quilt back. The quilt backing is on a separate roller than the quilt top, and both are going to advance differently, therefore there is no guarantee that your center panel on the back of your quilt will be exactly aligned with the center of your top.

  • If you must piece your backing to make it big enough, and you are trying to be creative with different pieces of fabric, use an asymmetrical design. Let a stripe or something be purposely off center and let the seams fall where they may on the quilt back. It adds interest and intrigue and draws attention away from a framed panel that isn't exactly centered.


THREAD COLOR:

  • The first solid color of thread is included in the price of quilting.
  • Each additional color is an extra cost of $5.00.  Decorative or variegated threads are available for an additional cost of $10.00
  • Matching bobbin thread to the top thread helps avoid contrasting color show-through to the front of the quilt. Show-through with contrasting bobbin threads is usually most evident when pulling the bobbin thread to the top and anchoring threads by stitching in place, start and stops and in areas where there is a tight curve because tension increases on the top thread when turning a curve and pulls the bobbin thread up higher unlike stitching in a straight line.
  • It is our preference to always match the bobbin thread to the top thread to avoid problems with dots showing. If backing fabric is dark and we are using light color thread on top, consider the light bobbin thread against the dark backing as a form of thread art. It can really be quite beautiful and can in turn, act as a reversible quilt!


PATTERNS:
For edge to edge, I carry a variety of different patterns to choose from.   However, if you leave the pattern choice to me, please be sure to mention any dislikes.  Example – ‘no flowers, keep generic, as this is a gift for a male’.

Pre-Wash Fabric:
New fabrics often contain excess dye which can bleed onto other fabrics when wet. Also cotton fabrics tend to shrink a little when washed, and different pieces may shrink at different rates.

Consistent Seam Allowance:
Consistent seam allowances help to uniform, square up blocks. Seams that are too narrow or weak can come undone.  They can also result in non-square blocks.  If you have trouble with inconsistent seam allowances you may need to slow down while sewing and pay close attention to the end of a seam, when it’s very easy to veer off to the right or left as you come to a stop.

Square Up Your Blocks:
Square up all your blocks before sewing them together. Blocks that are all the exact same size always make for a flatter quilt. Blocks of different sizes which are forced together will usually create fullness that may or may not be able to be quilted out.

Attaching Borders:
By the time you have finished your quilt top, the edges will usually have stretched somewhat, and more so if there are any bias pieces on the edge. If you measure the edge of your quilt to get the length for your borders, you will almost always end up with a quilt that will not hang or lay flat. Therefore you end up with wavy or flared borders that can be a real challenge to quilt and make flat.

To avoid these wavy borders, measure through the middle of the quilt to get your border length or width, and then cut the borders using this length. Use pins to apply the border and ease in any fullness. Measuring and then using pins takes a few extra minutes but the results are well worth it. You should also consider applying borders cut on the length of the fabric. There is a lot less stretching during the application as well as the quilting when this is done. Plus there are no seams in your border. You may have to buy a little extra fabric this way, but you get to add a nice scrap of fabric to your stash!

Press -- Don't Iron:
Sliding your iron stretches out your fabric, this can make irregularly shaped blocks!
Instead press -- lift your iron from place to place -- don't slide it. If your quilt block is arcing in the middle, then you are ironing and not pressing.
Pressing your seams consistently in the same direction is very important when it comes time to quilt your quilt. Seams that suddenly change pressing directions cause unnecessary lumps in your quilt.
Whenever four or more seams come together at one point, press the seams open instead of to one side. This will help the intersection lie much flatter and make for a much nicer quilting job.


Happy quilting !

Quilt preparation...