Consider the following tips and suggestions as a guideline for preparing your quilt top to be longarm quilted:
• Quilts are quilted in the condition and order they are received. There will be a rush fee if you want to 'jump the line' with your quilt.
• Label the top of your quilt. Make sure to let me know if your quilt top and/or backing are directional. A small note safety pinned to the fabric is perfect.
• Do not baste your quilt layers together.
• Quilt top should be pressed with seams pressed consistently to one side, especially on borders or sashings. I prefer bulky seams be pressed open.
• Quilt top should be square and lay flat with no ripples or fullness in borders. See notes on "Borders" below.
• Check quilt top for seam breaks, repair as needed.
• Trim all loose threads from right and wrong sides of quilt top.Contrasting threads can shadow through lighter fabrics. i call these 'varicose threads'
• Secure the exterior seams of quilt top with back-tacked seams.If you have a pieced border, please stay-stitch a line 1/8” from raw edges to secure the seams..
• Add 3D embellishments like charms, beads, or buttons after the quilting.
• Dimensional blocks, dense embroidery, and appliqued patches cannot be stitched over unless noted.
• The Backing and Batting should be 8- 10” minimum longer and wider than the quilt top. This allows for a 4-5” margin on all sides. If in doubt, go BIGGER!
• Best results are achieved on quilt tops that lay flat with no fullness in blocks and borders. The old saying “It will quilt out” doesn’t necessarily apply to Long arm machine quilting.
- I have a firm Christmas deadline. Quilts needing to be quilted before Christmas (December 25th) need to be in my possession no later than October 1st of that year. Quilt are accepted with a first come, first quilted rule. I book quickly with Christmas quilts, so plan accordingly!
- The largest size, in inches, of a quilt i can quilt is 118 x 130. if your quilt is bigger than that, you will need to find a Long Armer with a 14foot frame (mine is 12foot) or consider quilting the quilt in halves/pieces and using the Quilt-As-You-Go method for joining them together.
Quilt backing fabrics should be of similar weight and fiber content as the quilt top. Stretchy fabrics are not a good choice. Flannel is very nice but be sure to preshrink by washing at least two or three times in hot water and use only the length-wise grain rule when purchasing yardage. Backing fabrics can be a busy print to hide the quilting or plain fabrics to accentuate elaborate quilting. Consider the thread color when selecting backing color. If you don’t want the thread color to show on the backing, purchase a fabric the same color as the thread you want to be used for quilting.
To a LAer, the direction you piece the backing is important (top to bottom/ side to side) Preferably, I will load the backing with the seam running parallel to the rollers of my frame. This means that a quilt can be loaded and quilted sideways. Also, remove selvages from backing seams. Selvages 'act' differently than regular fabric and can distort the finished quilt.
Quilt borders must lay as flat as physically possible and not have fullness or waves. Borders that do not lay flat (they are called 'friendly' cause they wave) can cause tucks or pleats when quilted. Quilts with rippled borders are extremely difficult to quilt, as there is just too much fullness in the outer edges of the quilt compared to the center. In this case correction is necessary. Check the quilt top for “square”; the sides should be the same measurement just as the ends should be the same measurement.
Batting Makes a Difference:
Many types of battings are available and each one will quilt up differently. Remember that the batting will directly contribute to the feel of the finished quilt. Some important considerations about the finished quilt should be made when selecting your batting. Consider the following; the weight, warmth, washed texture (flat, wrinkled or puffy), amount of take up into quilting, maximum distance quilting stitches can be placed, fiber content, shrinkage when washed, presence of a scrim, and the width of batting compared to the largest measurement of your quilt.
Choose the best batting you can afford. We are often tempted to use "cheap" batting to keep our costs low. Cheap batting tends to be a poor quality and will rear its ugly head after in the quilt's life. You've put all that time and effort into piecing the quilt, so use the best batting you can afford.
If you are ordering your batting online, feel free to 'bill it to you' and 'ship it to me'. Make sure to leave a note in the comment form of the invoice with your name and contact phone number. I get a box or two of batting a week and I need the note to keep everyone's batting straight.
For machine quilting, the batting needs to be 6-8" wider and longer than the quilt top. Packaged batting DOES NOT need to be opened or trimmed.
I have found that Dream Cotton batting in the "Request" loft is not ideal for machine quilting. The "Select" and "Deluxe" lofts are perfect. Batting for use in longarm quilting needs to have a scrim or be needle punched. Check the packing and if you are unsure, please email me and we'll figure it out together.
Batting color is important as well. (I know, who knew batting was this involved *geez*) Quilts that are primary white or light colors will look better with a bleached white batting. Quilts that are black or very dark will need a black batting. The unbleached battings look good in everything else. Bearding and batting color shadow through will quickly ruin the overall look of a quilt in a heartbeat.
I have used the Priority Boxes offered by United States Postal Service(USPS) for mailing quilts back and forth with no issues *knock on wood* but will use your preferred company (UPS, Fed Ex, DHL, etc) I do not use any quilting terminology on the box to hint at the contents.
Packing your quilt:
- Do not ship any quilts unless I have agreed to quilt your quilt top. I will provide my shipping address once agreements have been made. Once I receive your top I will either call or email you to let you know it arrived and then we can discuss quilting then (I'm a visual type person)
- Place your quilt top and batting inside a large bag to protect it from the weather elements. I don't recommend wrapping your quilt in colored tissue paper. I once received a white quilt wrapped in orange tissue paper with no plastic bag. The piecer was lucky, had that tissue paper had gotten wet- it would of stained the quilt.
- Attach your name and contact information on your quilt top just in case your packaging is damaged during shipment. This way the shipping company can have a way to return your quilt top to you.
- Please do not stuff your quilt top into the smallest box possible. If the box is not big enough, all of your pressing will be for nothing and I will have to charge for pressing the quilt top and backing.
- If you are ordering your batting online, feel free to 'bill it to you' and 'ship it to me'. Make sure to leave a note in the comment form of the invoice with your name and contact phone number. I get a box or two of batting a week and I need the note to keep everyone's batting straight.
- Finished quilts will not be shipped until full payment has been received.
- You will be responsible for return shipping. I will give you several options once your quilt is finished. This should be from $10-$25 within the continental US.
- Insurance is optional but is highly recommended. No matter how careful I am when your quilt is with me, I cannot be held responsible for lost/damaged quilts once they have left my possession.
If you are unsure about anything, feel free to email me. I don't bite and I've had all my shots.