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Preparing your quilt

  • Do not baste your quilt, with pins or any other method
  • Identify the head or top of your quilt if applicable.
  • Piece your quilt top as carefully as possible. If it doesn't lie flat, it could create puckers when quilting.
  • Square your quilt top. The sides should be the same width and length.
  • Press your quilt and backing well. Seams should be pressed flat. I like seams that go to one side (rather than pressed open), especially on the backing fabric. I believe this makes the quilt stronger.
  • Trim all loose threads on the top and bottom of your quilt. They could show under light fabrics after the quilt top is quilted.
  • Quilt top should be free of any embellishments such as buttons, pins, charms, sequins, etc.
  • Borders that do not lay flat may cause tucks, pleats or fullness.
  • If you are piecing your backing, cut off all selvage edges. Press the seam either open or to one side.
  • Bed sheets are not recommended for backing fabric.
  • Make sure the backing is 10" larger, both length and width, than your quilt top
  • Square up your backing. If folded in half and laid on a flat surface, you should have 90-degree corners.
  • You may supply your own batting - make sure it is at least 10" larger (width and length) than your quilt top.
  • I have Hobbs 80/20 Poly cotton for $6/yard
  • The success of longarm quilting relies on several key issues, one being that the backing is square for proper loading and large enough to quilt the top edge to edge.
    Backings must be 10 inches larger than the quilt top. In other words, if your top measures 70 x 90 then you back should measure 80 x 100 AFTER it has been properly squared.
  • No matter how hard you try, if you cut two lengths of fabric or more to piece a back it WILL need to be squared, even if you "tear on grain" the finished product will not be square. Even 108" wide fabric must be properly squared prior to loading on the longarm. - so purchase a few more inches to allow for this. Squaring a back is no different than squaring a fat quarter for rotary strip cutting, just larger! Find the center of the back lengthwise, fold in half, then carefully smooth the fabric and fold again as necessary to fit on your cutting table. You will quickly notice that the fabric does not line up when it is smoothed out. These rough edges need to be tamed with a rotary cutter. Repeat this procedure for the other side. Then fold the backing widthwise and repeat the process on each of the width sides. Ta-da, now you have a square back! Now press the seams open, trim any loose threads, give it a once over with a good ironing and you are ready to bring it in along with your top for quilting! And you saved a service charge.

    Do take into consideration when you are purchasing your fabric and constructing your backing that you may possibly loose several inches in the squaring process ~ for this reason plan on the back starting out much larger than the intended final result of 10 inches on each side.

    ELIMINATING THE WAVE IN BORDERS When you take a quilt class the teacher concentrates on teaching you the technique to make the blocks then sends you home to complete the quilt top. Patterns and books seem to major on the construction of the blocks and minor on the importance of piecing and applying borders. Oh sure, they tell you to measure, but they don't tell you why...and isn't it much easier to just sew on a strip then cut it off when you run out of quilt top? Sure it is. The problem with this sort of construction is the undesirable end result, especially if your quilt top is going to be put on a frame to be quilted. These so called "wavy borders" will result in pleats when it's quilted. Follow these steps to assure that your borders are not wavy and your top will lay flat when placed on the quilt frame.

    First, take the center measurement of the width of the top. Using that number, cut the top and bottom border to that length The quilt top may have some fullness in it, if necessary measure in three places and take the average. Fold the quilt top in half and place a pin to mark the center, then fold in quarters marking with pins.Do the same for the border. Next match the pins and pin the border to the top, right sides together. There may be fullness as the pieces come together, if so, ease this in at the sewing machine, with the fullness next to the feed dogs. Attach both the top and bottom border. Press.

    Repeat the process by measuring the length of the quilt top then cut the side borders to this number.Cut the borders to the measurement, mark the center with a pin and then find the quarter marks as described above. Pin the border to the quilt top, right sides together. Sew, easing in any fullness. Do this for both sides. Press and ta-da, you now have borders that make a square frame for your quilt top! There may be some slight fullness in the center, but this will usually quilt out. The important thing is your borders will be square and therefore your quilt should be square too!

    Ideas from the Quiltropolis website, Long-arm e-mail section
    Compiled by karen O of Texas, A-1 Elite Edited by Colleen in NE, GC w Turbo CL (as we are known to our internet friends)
    1. Rough cut a 9 x 12 rectangle to use in your Swiffer - bonus, you can turn it over and use the other side too! (A very popular suggestion.) Here's another "Swiffer" mop invention: I use those swifter mops with pads, and I have made some of material like old flannel and put a 4-5" strip of batting down the middle. I get several floor washes with it, and can either throw them into the washing machine or throw them away. I sew down both sides. Really fast easy.
    2. Cut 5" squares to use to make coasters
    3. Use small odd shaped pieces to dust with
    4. Have a small piece of batting at your sewing table to collect loose threads
    5. Have another one at the ironing station to collect threads that you trim off while ironing
    6. use them to pretest thread tension settings by sandwiching pieces between muslin trimmings, cutting them into squares of 6-10 inches and moving the sandwich around under the needle as the machine runs in constant or manual mode and with the longer pieces, you can clamp to the take-up roller (I have pvc pipe clamps) and lean on the other end with your tum and also use that to test thread tensions.
    *More on those muslin sandwiches:* use my scraps with Muslin to practice, but my difference would be that I often zig-zag stitch a bunch of them together to get a bigger piece (on my sewing machine), and this gives me a "challenge piece" because I sew all different types together, and I can see how my practice looks on different battings.
    7. Wipe the machine down with it! Also someone else said: I cut cotton batting into small squares and keep a stack next to my machine to wipe up oil leaks and wipe down the extra oil when oiling the machine.
    8. Make small quilts for use in front of your coffee pot or other places where you get drips!
    9. Make quilt as you go place mats.
    Another placemat suggestion: I love to use my scraps for placemats for myself and to give as gifts. Cut into approx. 14" x 20" pieces and add to whatever you choose for top and backing. I also use this same size of batting scrap to make strip cut mats. These are easy, fast and help use up my fabric scraps, making great placemats or mats for tables under lamps, plants, etc.
    10. Use for 'diaper' for your longarm. (Tuck a small piece under the bobbin area when my machine is parked)
    11. Donate the batting scraps to your local senior center where they can be used to make small crafts.
    12. Give them to a group of ladies who make raggedy quilts for charity.
    13. The Cotton Theory uses small strips of batting. I have made one of the table runners.
    14. A small piece of 80/20 batting around the thread in the guide on my serger type adapter keeps the thread from knotting or getting loose. Kind of the same idea as the sponge cube on the Gammill.>BR> 15. Use my extra batting for my dog kennels and even donate some to the local animal shelter. Or the practice muslin pieces I donate to the local animal shelter for doggie or kitty blankets.
    16. Use small scraps for small projects like pot holders etc.
    17. Our local hospital ladies auxiliary uses batting scraps to make “heart" pillows for heart surgery patients to hold to their chest when they have to cough or (heaven forbid) sneeze. Another idea: they use it for pillows to give to all the children who come in the ER
    18. I use batting scraps to pack in boxes when I send a package. It is great because it doesn't weigh as much as newspaper and nothing ever gets broken when wrapped in it.
    19. Another use for batting scraps - cut them in 5" squares and give them for auction items along with a pattern for one of the 'rag' quilts like the Christmas tree one.
    20. How about a base for fiber post cards and journal sized quilts?
    21. Wrap a big enough piece around the seat belt that bites your neck!
    22. Whack off a chunk (precise cutting here, you notice) and safety pin it to my right shoulder. When I have loose threads, I don't toss them over my shoulder, I toss them TO my shoulder
    23. I use them for fill when I mail out quilts
    24. If you ever use fusible batt you won't have any left over as it can be "pieced" pretty easily
    25. My friend uses them to make "envelopes" for holding kits that another friend uses in classes she teaches. Anything over 10" goes there.
    26. I have also given them to the Girl Scouts to sew together and use for their first quilts (usually one block pillows)
    27. Use them in the winter to "chink" leaky windows or make draft stoppers.
    28. Then there are biscuit quilts, raggy quilts, raggy jackets, etc.
    29. Wrap it around the broom and use it to knock down the spider webs. Just throw it away, no messy broom bristles.
    30. Wrap it around that casserole you are taking to the potluck. If it leaks, just throw it away! (96" goes around a lot of times!)
    31. Cut it a bit smaller than your lamp base and protect your table.
    32. I also use them to clean the wheels and tracks. (on a longarm machine)
    33. Removing chalk marks on quilt tops.
    34. I use small, potholder size scraps to erase the black marker lines off my white board. When the batting gets dirty, I just throw it away.
    35. I give it to a friend that uses it for stuffing in teddy bears and animals she makes to sell at bazaars and craft sales.
    36. I use some of my batting scraps to make quilted purses
    37. Use for making the front portion of your anatomy appear to be more ample than it really is. Batting scraps are MUCH better than socks for this purpose.
    38. Pincushions
    39. Fabric Christmas ornaments
    40. Christmas stockings
    41. Pad photo album cover
    42. make-up removal.
    43. Give to guild members for craft projects
    44. Make a 6" quilt block and use the smaller piece of batting with it, quilt it up, bind it and give it!
    45. You know the small drawers you can get in the tool section that holds your nails, and bolts and washers? I use that for my jewelry. I place small pieces of batting on the bottom of the drawer so my rings, necklaces, and bracelets don't slide around when I pull the drawer open.
    46. I have done strip quilts with strips 8" or wider batting just to practice on.
    47. I use really small pieces to wipe up scraps of cloth that have dropped on a smooth tile floor.
    48. I cut some of the batting into squares to hook my earrings/pins onto for my garage sale
    49. I have also torn up the poly scraps to use for stuffing or filling of small throw pillows that I made the forms for.
    50. I usually keep the scraps of batting to stuff baby toys.
    51. I roll larger pieces and put them at the folds when folding my quilts for storage -- keeps the fabric from breaking down
    52. I make TONS of the raw edge quilts and have taught all my relatives to do likewise. We take two 8" squares of fabric and put a 6" square of batting in an X over the sandwich - this makes one block. Then sew all those squares together into a quilt with the raw edges all to one side, either the top or the bottom. Clip the raw edges up to about 1/8 of the seams every 1/4" or so, and wash till it's fluffy. I've also taught school kids to make them, and our church quilting ladies.
    53. I use them to wrap breakables when mailing items.
    54. I place them between my good seasonal glass plates so they don't scratch each other.
    55. I sew cotton batt scraps together to make rice bags. Then I either use these hot or cold for soothing my achy body, OR ... I lay them on my quilts to take up the slack while I'm quilting a non-square, non-flat quilt. Kinda like bean bags.
    56. I contribute it to anyone that will accept it -- quilt shops, church groups, school groups, relatives, etc.
    57. I occasionally zig-zag scraps to do table runners or wall hangings that I am not particularly concerned about. You can't tell when it's done anyway
    58. I also sew larger scraps together and use them in my own personal crib-size quilts
    59. Use as snow at Christmas for decorating around little trees or your nativity scene.
    60. Use in trapunto
    61. I made a small padded camera case to wrap around my point and shoot camera. Put a little pocket in front for extra memory cards. The case and pocket are kept closed with Velcro and the neck strap comes out of the side of the top alongside the Velcro.
    62. This may not be too popular but I actually have used small bits of cotton or cotton blend batting to act as a cushion between my lip and retainer gone haywire while I wait to get into the dentist!
    63. I just remembered DH (dear husband) an avid hunter uses leftover 100% cotton batting as "wads" when he's muzzle-loading. I bet that's a new one...

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