When I have clients reach out there are a lot of questions people have about sending their quilts to a longarm quilter! It can be such a different and scary experience especially if you have never done it before! Don’t stress though because there is really nothing scary about it!!! I am here to answer some of my most asked questions and give you some tips so you don’t have to stress at all!
Your quilt top should be at a minimum 4 inches smaller than your backing on ALL sides of your quilt. This can vary depending on your longarm quilter so you will want to double check with your longarmer to see if they have different specifications that they work with. Standard is to have 4 inches extra all the way around- this does not mean if you have more you need to trim it down to 4 inches! Keep the extra!! It is always better to have more than not enough.
Should you baste your top, batting and backing together? Nope! The way a longarm quilting machine works is that we load them on as 3 separate pieces so we actually don’t want them together at all. If you need to notate the top of your quilt or the backing just put a note with a pin so that we are aware but there is not need to put them all together.
Another thing to take note of when looking at your top is making sure that threads are trimmed and seams are secure. This does not mean that every possible thread needs to be trimmed but make sure that there aren’t any threads hanging all over and also if you have a light background fabric with some darker threads that there won’t be threads showing when it is quilted that will bother you. I honestly won’t be paying attention to that! Another thing I won’t have control over is if seams aren’t sewn well if they come apart or are not sewn completely when they are on the machine being quilted I will not be fixing them. Make sure the top is pressed and neat and you will have no problems at all!
A note for backing if you have a seam it is preferred to have the seam horizontal but it can be vertical if necessary. If your backing is directional make sure to mark it for the longarmer. Also little reminder- if you need to seam it make sure that both sides are going the same direction! Trust me I usually forget that part with my backings and have to unpick….
If you are shipping your quilt to a longarmer it is VERY important to put your quilt top and backing in a bag of some sort before putting them in a box so that if anything should get wet during the shipping process all your hard work doesn’t get ruined. I also highly recommend using a box over a bag to ship. I have gotten a few soggy boxes but thank the heavens the quilts have always been in a bag and were safe!!! I will always send the quilts back to you in a bag in the box just because you never know what will happen in shipping!
Honestly this is the fun part!! Most longarmers will have a ton of pantographs (designs) that they can put on your quilt to finish it. Honestly one of my weaknesses is buying pantographs…..its a real problem. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or look at different websites to find designs that appeal to you! Its your quilt- we are more than happy to offer suggestions or help however! Many designs will change the whole look and feel of the quilt. Some designs will be denser than others and can affect pricing depending on your longarmer as well. Your longarmer can discuss that with you and let you know if there will be any price increases or if it will affect the cuddle of your quilt.
Thread color is another decision that will need to be made. Each machine has it own preference and longarmers have their preference as well. Some like being BOLD and standing out. Others prefer to have the thread blend in- it really just depends. Often times longarmers will use the same thread on the front and the back of the quilt due to the tension being tricky when you use two different colors. Make sure if that is something you care about you discuss this with your longarmer. I use the same color front and back and if you don’t specify I will blend it in! I’m kinda boring like that! Honestly though I tend to lean towards using gray thread, it is very neutral when it comes to longarming because it blends into dark and light colors really well depending on the shade.
Batting is another choice you may have to make. I have a few battings on hand for my clients that I buy wholesale. Batting is honestly totally personal preference and some people REALLY care while others really don’t. I say don’t stress about it and just make sure that you are getting a quality product and you’ll be fine! If you have questions regarding certain types of batting or batting for certain uses don’t hesitate to ask your longarmer. There really are types of batting that work better for different types of things if you are wanting to hang a quilt on your wall or snuggle in it or whatever its purpose will be!
I’m trying to think of any other questions i get asked and for now I am not thinking of anything but will definitely update things as I do!! IF YOU think of any questions or thoughts PLEASE send them my way!! I would love to address them!!