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Prepping a Quilt for Long-Arming

Jennifer of Slightly Biased Quilts is joining us today to share how she preps her quilts for long arming. Jennifer's quilts are so happy and colorful. And how cool is her logo?

Hi everyone! Today I'm going to talk about how I prepare my quilts for long-arming. I am lucky enough to have a mom that has a long-arm machine. I do my best to prep my quilt tops and backings for her before I send them off.

First and foremost, if you are putting a border on your quilt top, there is definitely a wrong way and a right way to do it! A common complaint from longarmers is wavy borders, and the issues they have trying to quilt them. If you simply cut a long strip, apply it, and then trim, this can very, very easily cause wavy borders. Instead, measure the length of the side, or even better, measure the length of the two sides and the middle, and take an average. Cut your border strip exactly this length. Pin the border strip on each side, starting at the ends and in the middle, and then pin the rest of the way. Sew on and repeat on the other two sides of the quilt top. With this method, you are more than likely going to end up with a nice, flat border, giving your longarmer a much easier time!

Next, you will want to press your quilt top and square it up. This might be controversial, but I don't clip threads on the back of my quilt top. I don't leave long threads as I'm piecing it, so that's a step I skip, but I've heard a lot of people say it's good to do, because it prevents threads from being visible through the quilt top.

ontoFor your backing and batting, assemble a backing as needed - I have been using and loving widebacks these days, so no assembly is required in that case (though you should square the wideback up too - sometimes the edges aren’t perpendicular to the selvage). You'll want your backing and batting to be 4-6" extra on each side, depending on your longarmer's preferences. This extra is needed because of the way the quilt is loaded on to the longarm machine, and not providing enough extra can really cause issues.

If you aren’t using a wideback and are piecing together a backing, be sure and remove any selvages that would be in the interior of the backing, i.e. down the middle. Selvages on the outside are ok, but any on the inside can cause missed stitches.

Lastly, if your quilt top or backing is directional, safety pin a note to the top of each so that your longarmer will know! Sometimes I forget to do this, but I need to be better at remembering.

Are there any other tips or tricks your longarmer has given you? If you longarm, is there anything I missed?

Thanks for the tips, Jennifer!

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