Quilt top and backing fabric must be completely pressed. All seams should be pressed flat.
DO NOT layer your quilt top, batting, and backing together or baste them in any way. The quilt gets loaded on three separate roller bars, and we cannot load the quilt if it is already basted, especially if it has been basted with pins.
Your quilt top must be square to be loaded and quilted successfully. If you have added borders to your quilt as shown above, this will not be an issue. If you did not add borders or have done so incorrectly, this could cause problems. Measure the opposite sides of your quilt to see how closely they match. If the opposite sides are off by more than 1-2″, you MUST correct this before sending it to be quilted. If your quilt is wonky to begin with, most likely it will come back that way as well.
Your quilt top should be trimmed down to final finished size. I will not cut or trim a quilt top.
If you want to embellish your quilt top with beads, buttons, or other objects, wait until the quilt comes back from the quilter. I cannot quilt through these items and they prevent us from loading the quilt so that it is flat & square.
If your quilt top has embroidery, applique, or folded fabric techniques such as prairie points or pleats, be sure to let me know whether it is OK to quilt over them when you discuss the quilt design.
Check to be sure all seams are secure. Stay-stitch seams that are on the edge of your quilt. Stay-stitching is simply adding 3-4 stitches across the seam, about 1/8″ from the edge, to keep the seams from pulling apart. If your top does not have a border or the border is completely pieced, you could also baste around the entire perimeter of the quilt. Your quilt top will be stretched and rolled when it is loaded on the machine, and you don’t want those seams coming apart in the process.
Use one safety pin to mark the top of the quilt.
Remove all excess threads as well as pin.
The quilt top must lay flat. Measure your quilt top across the top, bottom, and at the center. These three measurements should be the same. If not there is a possibility that there will be puckers in your finished quilt.
Backing and Batting
If you pre-washed the fabrics in your quilt top it is highly recommended that you pre-wash your backing fabric also.
Batting and backing must be at least 6” to 8” larger than the quilt top and backing must be square.
Try not to make backings that have to be center-matched with the center of the quilt top. On a home machine, you typically quilt from the center out, but on a long arm, I quilt from top to bottom. Trying to perfectly match a quilt top with the backing takes extra time & skill, and depending on the type of quilt and design, it may not even be possible.
Ideally, you will have a backing from one single width of fabric. Some quilters have a limited selection of wide quilt backs for you to choose from, or you can order them online.
If you are piecing your backing, horizontal seams are better than vertical seams, because of how the quilt is loaded on the rollers.
Try not to have a vertical seam running right down the center of the quilt. Off-set this seam to one side, or better yet, piece the backing so that you have extra on both sides and a larger piece in the center.
Remove selvage edges before piecing (unless the selvages are on the outside edge). Selvages are the tightest weave of the fabric without any give, and leaving them on can create puckers and inconsistent seams. They can also cause pulled threads in that area if the needle hits them in the wrong place.
Use a 1/2″ seam allowance when using large sections of fabric. However, if your backing is scrappy, normal 1/4″ quilt seams are fine.
Press seams open whenever possible. The extra bulk created when you press seams to the side can cause skipped stitches and also hinder the quilt from rolling on to the frame evenly.
Press your backing flat, from the back, so you can direct the seams correctly.
Mark the center of your backing at the top with safety pins if it is directional.