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Stuff you should know....

Required Backing and Batting for Longarm Quilting:

Your Longarm quilter isn't being insensitive to the price of good quilting fabric when he or she asks for 6 inches longer and 6 inches wider than the quilt top. In other words, a quilt top that measures 50 inches by 50 inches needs a backing of at least 56 inches by 56 inches to accommodate the longarm process.

In order to attach the quilt backing to the longarm machine, an extra 3 inches minimum at the top and bottom of the backing are needed to keep the backing stationary during the quilting process (hence the 6 inches longer and wider). The extra backing on the sides is to stabilize the backing and batting by clips during the longarm movement over the top of the quilt. 

Batting also has to be bigger than the quilt top for the same reasons. The ideal size for the batting is also 6 inches wider and longer than the quilt top, but 4 inches will suffice. Any less than 4 inches wider or longer may cause difficulty during the quilting process if the quilt top is not a perfect square or rectangle. The extra batting length and width allows any deviance from the perfect square or rectangle while quilting.

Any extra fabric and batting will always be returned to you. :-)

Standard Mattress Top Sizes:

Crib – 23” x 46”
Twin – 39” x 75”
Twin XL (Dorm Size) – 39” x 80”
Double (Full) – 54” x 75”
Queen – 60” x 80”
King – 76” x 80”
California King – 72” x 84”

Keep in mind this is only the typical sizes of the mattress tops: If you want the quilt to drop down on the sides, the figures above will be bigger. For example, if you have a queen sized bed, and you want the quilt to fall 10 inches over the sides of the bed and 10 inches over the foot of the bed, your quilt size would be 80" x 90". This figure does not include a 'pillow tuck', which would add another 10" to the length, which would make the total 80" x 100". Adding the extra length and width to accommodate the longarm setup, the backing size would have to be 86" x 106". Simple, right? :-)

The best way for a longarm quilter to setup the backing on the longarm machine is to have the selvages pinned to the rollers. This allows a little less fabric waste as part of the quilting process and also eliminates the need for perfect squaring of the cut edges. If the cut edge is pinned to the rollers, the backing must be squared to keep the top and bottom edges parallel on the rollers. Not having the ends squared will cause one end of the backing to be tight on the roller and the other end 'flapping in the breeze', causing puckers and folds during the quilting process.

Lose threads are not our friends:

Please trim any lose threads you see, especially on the quilt top. I try to trim them if I see them, but if I miss any, and it comes down to a battle between the longarm machine and the quilt top, the longarm will always win. If a lose thread gets tangled on the head of the longarm, it can result in a ripped quilt top, which no-one wants to see. Lose threads on the bottom side of the quilt top should be trimmed also, because these can be raised to the quilt top and also cause problems. If you have a lot of light fabric on the top or backing of your quilt, dark threads will show through the light fabric.

I know this can be a pain in the butt, but trimming the lose threads as you are creating the top will make life a lot easier for both of us. :-)

Ironing vs Pressing:

All experienced quilters know the importance of pressing seams when creating the quilt top, to make it easier for the piecing process and have the final product less 'bumpy'. I will do a touchup ironing to the top and bottom to remove any 'travel wrinkles and folds' before setting it up on the longarm, but the responsibility of pressing to ensure the best possible outcome from the quilting service lies ultimately in the quilt creators hands.

Minimum quilt charge per quilt top:

This is a tough subject. I hate having to tell someone I cannot do their quilting request because it is below the minimum charge (this is currently $40 - which translates to at least a 1600 square inch quilt top). Unfortunately, I have been getting more and more requests to perform 'tiny' quilting jobs - some as little as $10 per top. Let's think about this for a minute. What's involved with quilting your quilt?

Pre-quilting work:
*Checking to make sure the pieces are able to be quilted (backing and batting are big enough in comparison to the top - you would not believe how many tops I get that are bigger than the backing - another call I hate to make... :-(
*Touch up ironing
*Squaring the backing if needed
*Taking the 'permanent' folds out of batting if needed, which would cause lumps in the quilting process (this is done by putting it in the dryer for 4 minutes on low to fluff out folds).
*Attaching the top to the longarm table, rolling it on the roller making sure it doesn't wrinkle or fold over during the rolling.
*Attaching the bottom to the longarm table, first to the top roller, rolling it on the top roller, smoothing out any wrinkles, attaching it to the bottom roller, rolling it on the bottom roller, keeping a stable tension and making sure it doesn't wrinkle or fold.
*Lying the batting on top of the quilt bottom, adjusting as necessary.
*Lying the top on the batting, centering on backing, both vertically and horizontally as necessary, depending on backing seam direction.
*Setting up pantograph (quilt pattern)
*Loading thread on longarm, filling bobbins as required, checking thread tensions.
* Baste quilt top to square and eliminate movement during quilt process.
*Adjust pattern to line up with quilt top (vertical and horizontal starting and ending points)

And that's just to start the process, and the list is off the top of my head. Then comes the quilting, the pictures of the quilt on the machine, the 'redesigning' the last row because typically there is not enough quilting space left to fit the last row of the pattern, unloading it from the machine, pictures of it finished, trimming the quilt, doing the paperwork, making the phone calls, pickup and delivery, maintenance costs, blah, blah, blah. It takes about an hour to an hour and a half of prep and post time for each quilt, not including the actual quilting time. 
You get the picture. Oh, yeah, and let's not forget actually trying to pay for the extremely expensive machine that is doing the important part of the process. Or at least, it was expensive to me. :-)

Thanks for understanding and taking the time to check us out! :-)