CHECKLIST: Before you drop your quilt off to be finished, did you:
_____Trim loose threads from top of quilt? This is the easiest to do when giving the top the final pressing.
If your longarmer does not catch the loose threads before the quilting process is performed, these threads can get tangled around the machines hopper foot and rip a hole in your quilt top (not a happy thing for you or your longarmer :-(
_____Check for slipped seams? This is the easiest to do when giving the top the final pressing.
We've all had this happen - the fabric on the bottom wiggles out of the seam line leaving a little hole. This hole can get bigger and uglier and fray if not caught before the quilting process. And good luck fixing it if the quilt is completed before it is noticed.
_____Give it a final pressing before shipping to the longarmer
This is important to the overall appearance of the final product. Which do you like to look at more - a pressed dress shirt or a wrinkled up one? The same is true for quilts, and can affect the final trimming. Most longarmers (myself included) will give the top and backing a touch-up ironing to get the travel folds out, but do not expect your longarmer to spend hours trying to get out 'perma-folds' in the fabric or press your seams in the correct directions on the back of the top. This is one of the basic steps the quilter should get into the habit of performing.
_____Make sure the backing and batting are at least 6 inches wider and longer than the top? An Easy way to check:
Fold the backing in once length-wise and once width-wise (quarter it). Lay it on flat surface
Fold the top the same way, raw edges facing in. Place it on the backing, matching the folds. You should have a minimum of 3 inches on the raw edges of the backing showing. Same holds true with the batting. More if the backing or batting are not squared and will need to be trimmed.
If the batting and backing are not large enough to accommodate the quilting process, literally weeks of time were probably wasted in completing your quilt. Think about it: you drop off your quilt pieces, the longarmer picks it up in a day or more. It waits in line to be quilted, she starts to prep it for quilting and finds it cannot be setup on the machine. She has to arrange to drop it back off to you, you have to fix the problem, drop the quilt off again, contact the longarmer, she has to go back and pick it up and it waits in line again to be quilted. Real bummer for both of you and it can be easily avoided.
And longarmers everywhere will appreciate being able to just setup your quilt on the machine on the first try and perform their magic to make it look as beautiful as possible for you. :-)