How to Finish a Quilt Top: Getting it Done!

By Sherri McConnell

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After the piecing is completed and you have a quilt top, there are several things you'll want to do to ensure a professional finish. The first steps to finishing involve the quilt top itself. First, check the top of your quilt for threads. Then trim any threads from the front of your quilt so they don't interfere with the quilting. You may want to trim long threads from the back of the quilt as well, especially if they are dark colored and might show up through the light colored fabrics even after the quilt is quilted. Finally, inspect the edges of your quilt top. If the outer edges of your quilt are pieced, then you will want to add a line of stay-stitching 1/8" from the outside edge around the entire edge of the quilt. A stay-stitch is simply a straight stitch that will keep the edges of your pieced border from pulling apart as you work with finishing your quilt.

Quilt Top

Next you will need to prepare batting and backing for your quilt top. Your backing and your batting needs to be 4" wider than your quilt top on all sides. For example, if your quilt top is 56" x 60" then your batting and backing need to be cut to measure 64" x 68". Using these measurements will ensure that you will have enough batting and backing to cover the back of your quilt top throughout the entire quilting process. If you are taking your quilt to a professional longarm quilter they will require this extra yardage for your quilt back. Extra-wide backing fabrics are available from many fabric manufacturers, but you will most likely need to piece your backing material from 45? wide fabric to get the size you need. Battings are available in widths for even king-sized quilts, so piecing your batting will probably not be necessary.

Once you have accomplished these final steps, you are ready to decide on a finishing technique for your quilt. You can hand quilt your quilt top with the help of Craftsy's online class Hand Quilting with Andi Perejda, machine quilt it yourself (try the online Craftsy class Machine Quilting with Wendy Butler Berns to learn how to machine quilt your own project), or send it to a professional longarm quilter for longarm quilting.

Quilt Top from Longarm Quilting

If you are going to take your machine to be professionally quilted on a longarm, then you are ready to drop it off. Your longarm quilter will take care of putting the three layers of your quilt together into a quilt ?sandwich? on their longarm machine. Some longarm quilters will trim the extra batting and backing when they are finished quilting your quilt top, and some will leave that step for you to finish up. If you are doing the trimming, trim the batting and backing away from the edges of your quilt top even with the quilt top edge. Your quilt is now ready for binding, which you can learn all about here.

Taking these steps to finish your quilt top will ensure you have a well-finished quilt that will be around for years to come. Are you ready to finish those quilt tops you've been sewing?

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