Today I'm going to deviate a little from the usual show and tell - I have a lot of customers ask me what they need to do with their quilt top before bringing it to me. Here are my top 3 tips!
1. Iron your seams people, iron your seams! This would be my number one tip for anyone wishing to get their quilt longarmed or even if you are going to quilt the quilt yourself. I have no personal preference when it comes to which way to iron - when I am piecing my own quilts I tend to do a combination of pressing to the side and pressing open depending on the circumstance. It doesn't really matter which way you do it - just do it! It's the only way to get a flat quilt without unsightly bumps.
2. Borders - aah this is a big one. Wavy borders are always a challenge to quilt. What are wavy borders I hear you ask? These are caused by a number of reasons - quilt tops that aren't square or incorrect attachment to name a couple. This creates "waves" in the outer edge of the border so you will not get a totally flat finish. Before attaching borders square up your quilt! When measuring and cutting your borders measure through the centre of your quilt (even better, take 2-3 measurements through the body of your quilt and average them) and cut your border to that exact measurement. Pin and sew the border to your quilt easing in any excess in along the way. This will go a long way to giving you flatter borders.
3. Square up your backing. It's super important that you have a square backing ready for the longarmer to roll on to the machine. If the backing is crooked there is more chance your quilt will also come off the frame crooked. I often rip my backings to get a straight edge, but you must be sure there is plenty of fabric before doing this. So as well as having a square backing make sure there is plenty of excess fabric for the longarmer to work with - 4 inches (10cm) on all sides should be the minimum - more is much better!
There are a few other things it is important to do before bringing your quilt to be longarmed -
Clean up any loose threads - especially important if you have white fabric in your piecing as darker loose threads will show through!
Think about thread colour when choosing the backing. If your quilt is to be quilted in bright orange best not to choose solid black or white for the backing! Try to choose a coordinating colour or a busy print.
Make sure you have at least 4 inches of extra backing and batting all the way around the quilt. As I said before - more is better :)
I hope these tips have helped give you a bit of an insight into sending your quilt to be longarmed. Is there anything you're still unsure about?
Happy quilting, Lyndelle xx