Perfect Package: How to Prepare a Quilt for Longarm Quilting

Sending your quilt for finishing to a longarm quilter can help give your quilt a beautiful, polished look. However, there are a few special things to consider before sending in your quilt. Here are some quick, simple notes everyone should know when preparing a quilt for longarm quilting.

Lattice Stars - Longarm Quilting on Craftsy

Photo via Craftsy member Karen Walker

Here’s how to prepare your quilt for longarm quilting!

One your quilt top is done, there are a few steps to take to help produce the best possible results. Most importantly, be sure to communicate with your longarm quilter to see if she has any preferences for how you should prepare above and beyond the things I tell you here!

Preparing the quilt top for longarm quilting

Preparing the quilt top

Once the quilt top is made, look to see if there are seams around the outer edges. If so, baste through these seams about 1/8th of an inch in from the edge.

This will ensure the seams don’t pop open when loaded onto the longarm. The binding will eventually cover up these basting stitches too. You may have to baste around the entire quilt if there are multiple seams or just baste through each seam if there are only a few.

Clipping threads

If the quilt top has a light fabric that might easily show loose threads from the underside, clip those threads. No one wants to see a red thread underneath a nicely quilted area on the quilt top. Some fabrics seem to fray a lot. If you find this is the case, a small dot of Fray Check will help curb those unruly threads!

Make sure your quilt top is squared and even on all four sides. Otherwise, it cannot be loaded onto the longarm. Press the quilt top and fold neatly.

Batting Choice - Longarm Quilting Prep Work

Photo via laugh yourself into Stitches*

Batting choice

Ask yourself how your quilt will be used. Do you want the quilting to show or simply hold the quilt together? The batting choice can make a difference, and a good quality batting is very important.

A loftier batting will show off the quilting more than a dense batting. Comparing Hobbs 80/20 batting to 100% Warm and Natural batting, both appear to be the same thickness; however, there is a difference in the loftiness and/or density. Hobbs provides more loft and enhances the quilting. Wool batting is also a great choice for showing off the quilting. A double layer of Hobbs 80/20 and wool can give extra prominence to the quilted areas.

Be sure to check with your longarm quilter to determine the best batting choice, and also see our post on how to choose quilt batting.

Preparing the backing for longarm quilting

You can choose to purchase an extra wide backing fabric, measuring up to 110”, or you could try piecing the back together.

Most of us quilters piece our quilt backs. The backing can be as simple as an extra strip sewn to one side or pieced together with a few unused quilt blocks or a variety of leftover fabrics. Stitch 5/8” seams when piecing the back and press them open. This helps spread the bulk.

The quilt back should measure approximately 4”- 6” larger than the quilt top. Ask your longarmer what measurements she prefers. Square up the backing on all four sides. Press the backing and fold neatly.

Pinwheel and Prairie Point Baby Quilt

Pinwheel and Prairie Point Baby Quilt/33357

One note of caution when piecing the quilt back…

Stay away from creating a symmetrical look. This can be problematic for the longarmer, as she may not be able to see the back while quilting, making it difficult to guarantee symmetry especially if the backing fabric stretches a bit. So, make fun backs with random placement of fabrics!

Don’t forget to take a look at Craftsy’s two fabulous longarm quilting classes, A New Look at Longarm Quilting, perfect if you’re newer to longarm, and Creative Longarm Quilting, for quilters who want to get even more familiar with creative longarm quilting. 

Whether you prep your quilts or you’re a longarm quilter yourself, what’s your preferred choice of batting?

17 Comments

Barbara Sikich

thank you, this is my newest area that I need to improve

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karen walker

Glad to provide some insight on this subject Barbara. If you have other questions, you are welcome to email me chezstitches@gmail.com Or visit my blog…. chezstitches.blogspot.com

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Dian

I appreciate especially the tip to sew 1/4 inch around to catch seams. I also check to make sure all seams are secure. I got back a quilt one time that the longarmer had to repair because stitches had come out. I’m more careful now.

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Etta Mae Turley

Good information, I am never sure what preparation I should for the long arm quilter.

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jean buckley

Do u have a list of people who put the quilts together? Name, number,email?

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Nancy

Missouri Star Quilt Company @missouriquiltco.com. Search on their site for Machine Quilting Services.

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Micky

very good advice..also could you tell me where to look for good long arm quilters? I had one lady that did a very bad job , so I to pull all her stitches out which was really hard on my quilt s I’ve been making little lap quilts so that I don’t have to send them out. So if you have a list of good quilters would love the list or website thanks

Reply
Nancy

Mickey, Missouri Star Quilt does longarm quilting. I have never used them as I have a longarm machine but I would trust them with my quilt and I think their pricing is really great.

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Betty DeWispelaere

I have been quilting many years. But I just send my first quilt to be done on a longarm machine! Thanks U 4 your tips.

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Aleesa Kobi

These are all good tips as we have run into them with customers bringing quilts to us at Deerwood Quilting. By the way, not all longarmers are women. My husband does the longarming and I help the customers pick patterns and threads. He loves his power tool with thread and talking to the customers.

Reply
Amanda Stuedemann

For Aleesa Kobi: I need help getting a quilt together, but am in Tennessee. Also I’ve never had a quilt put together by a pro before. I don’t even know where to start… Amanda

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karen walker

Hi Aleesa, you are correct! I am finding more and more men with longarms…and they are great!
~karen

Reply
Deb

Press your quilt top from the back, making sure seams are pressed well and stray threads are clipped. It will have a better chance for a good quilting result.

Reply
Michelle

Most quilt shops can furnish the names of local longarm quilters. Check with those quilters for their fees, whether or not they supply batting, and the type of quilting they can do. Some quilters do pantographs, some do freehand overall patterns, some do custom quilting and many do a combination of all of the above techniques.

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karen walker

Thanks Michelle! There are many good longarmers to choose from…getting a recommendation from a local quilt shop is great advice.
~karen

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Carolyn

My mom did quilting for years. I work with her on a lot of quilts. Now that is in a nursing home and her machine got sold. I am going to try my hand at it. So, I went to the quilt shop where she got her machine. I am now going to give it a try. I forgot some of the tips you gave in your blog. I thank you for the refresher. It will make it more easier on me.

Reply

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