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What to do & How to do it!

machineAs a quilter, I know how important your quilt top is to you. That makes it important to me, too. I offer high quality, precise stitching using my Statler Stitcher equipped Gammill Optimum longarm machine. My home is both smoke-free and pet free. To achieve the best finished results, the quilt top must be well prepared. In order to guarantee the highest quality and satisfaction in the finished product, please consider the following as you prepare your quilt for quilting.

Quilt Top Preparations

Ensure that your seams have been pressed. You can press them to one side or open…the choice is yours, but they must be pressed (careful that you do not iron the fabric out of shape). We all end up with a ‘twist’ in our seams because we pressed pieces in different directions. This will go completely unnoticed if you press it and make it as flat as possible.

Be sure that all the seams that come to the edge of the quilt are reinforced. Backstitching edge seams, framing the quilt with an extra strip of fabric (sometimes called an ‘ugly’), sewing a ¼” seam around the quilt border or serging the quilt border all make the quilt top more stable. Doing so will prevent seam edges from coming loose when placed on the longarm machine rollers and rolled taught. Seams that are not fully caught in the ¼” seam allowance could also come apart when the top is on the rollers.

Clip threads on both sides of your quilt top. Darker threads may be seen under light fabric areas, so make sure you clip them.

Do not baste or pin the quilt layers together. This is not necessary for longarm machine quilting, as they are loaded separately onto the rollers.


I have a quality selection of Hobbs batting available for purchase. Purchasing rolled batting is very cost efficient for you and it is much easier to work with. The batting that you purchase in a package is full of wrinkles and sometimes has thin patches in it that you cannot see until you unroll it.

I like the predictable results of Hobbs 80/20 (cotton/polyester) batting and prefer to use it for submitted projects. However, I will finish quilts using Warm and Natural batting too. Just be aware that 100% cotton batting will shrink and give your quilt an antique look after it is washed. If you are supplying the batting, it must be at least 4″ larger than the quilt top on all sides (same size as your backing).

  • If you do not want the antique look after washing your quilt, pre-shrink your cotton batting or use one that is pre-shrunk.
  • For darker fabrics (black, dark blue, etc.) a black or a “non-bearding” batting is suggested so the batting doesn’t migrate through your quilt.

Fullness & Puckers

You can identify fullness or puckers by laying your quilt down on a flat surface. Any ripples will be obvious. If there are rippled borders I will attempt to flatten them as I quilt, but understand that pleats or puckers may be impossible to avoid. The quilting process can hide some of those errors but probably will not make them look perfect.


One of th4inchesextrae best choices for backing fabric is to use a printed, 100% cotton fabric that matches or coordinates with the front. Consider thread choices for both the top and back when you select your backing. Plain fabric can also be used for backing. Again, just consider how it coordinates with the quilt top.

Sheets are not a great backing choice. The density/high thread count of sheet causes needles to dull faster. This can cause pulls, tugs, snares and larger holes in your quilt top and backing.

Cut the backing fabric a minimum of 4″ larger than the quilt top on all sides. For example if the quilt top is 50″ x 60″ the backing would be 58″ x 68″. Please have backing squared with seams pressed flat and selvages removed. If you cannot remove the selvage, cut small slits in the selvaged edge. Removing selvages allows the fabric to move and stretch naturally over the rollers. It also reduces any warp from fabric shrinkage.

To wash or not to wash? If you have pre-washed your quilt top, then pre-wash your backing too. Press the backing to remove wrinkles. If you are using flannel for your backing, pre-washing is recommended.

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