How to prepare your top for quilting
When I was a hand quilter, I never gave a thought to how flat the quilt top would lay -- I quilted from the center out, and any fullness was pushed to the edges of the quilt. There were never any puckers or tucks in the finished product.
But quilting on a longarm made me realize how important a nice flat quilt top is. Once a quilt is loaded on the frame, if there is any fullness, it will cause tucks and puckers to be sewn into the quilt top or backing. Not good.
But absolutely avoidable, if we follow a few simple tips.
Use consistent seam allowances. Seam allowances that are wider or narrower on one side of the block, row, or project can cause fullness in some areas of the top. Use a quarter inch piecing foot and a seam guide. Take your time while sewing, and don’t be afraid to use your seam ripper if your seam is the wrong size. A little care goes a long way toward accurate piecing.
Beware any bias edges in your patchwork. Bias edges can easily stretch, making accurate piecing impossible. Handle these areas with great care to prevent pulling them out of shape. Never pull or tug on your fabric while you’re sewing (even when you’re not dealing with the bias). If your project has a lot of bias edges, you might also try starching your fabric before cutting into it.
Measure your borders and cut them to length before sewing them on your top. (click here for instructions) This will prevent wavy borders and help you square up your quilt top at the same time.
Your longarm quilter will need extra backing fabric in order to secure the quilt back to the longarm leaders. Measure your quilt top and add four inches all the way around, so that your back is 8 inches longer and 8 inches wider than your top. For example, if your top is 50 X 60 inches, your backing should measure 58 X 68 inches.
Similarly, batting should be at least six inches longer and wider than your quilt top.
Pieced backs should be sewn using a half-inch seam allowance, which should be pressed open. Be sure to remove the selvedge edge from the fabric before you sew – it’s woven more tightly than the fabric and can cause weird puckers near the seam if not removed.
As a side note, if you don’t like to piece your backs, you have options. You can use a wide back fabric (there are several in my inventory) or you can let me piece the back for you!
Studio B will piece any quilt back for $10 per seam. BUT if I am doing the quilting and you purchase your backing fabric from me, I’ll piece it for you free of charge. This allows you to save time and money. Just bring your top to me, pick out a backing fabric, and leave the rest to me.