Preparing Your Quilt For Long Arm Quilting

We all want our projects to look professional.  Achieving that outcome is possible through careful construction and attention to detail.  To assist you in that process I have compiled a list of helpful tips.  I hope this will make your quilting experience more enjoyable and remove some of the mystery.  Please follow these guidelines when preparing your quilt.

Quilt Top

Square Up

Make sure your quilt top is squared.  Quilt tops that have been squared are much easier to load and much easier to quilt.

Baste Outer Edges

Your quilt top will be stretched and rolled when it is loaded onto my machine. During that process seams along the outer edge may come apart. To keep that from happening add a row of basting stitches all the way around the perimeter of your quilt top 1/8″ in from the outer edge. This is especially important if your quilt top does not have a border or if your border is pieced.

Trim Threads

We all have miscellaneous threads hanging on the backside of our quilt tops. Those threads don’t normally pose a problem. They do, however, when the quilt top has light colored fabrics in the design. Threads left on may be visible through the lighter fabrics.

It’s not my job to make certain your threads are neatly trimmed. Take the time it takes to remove any threads that may cause a problem. The short amount of time that it would take to follow through on this simple task will greatly reduce the likelihood of threads ruining the visual appearance of your finished quilt.

No Pins

Remove all pins.  You should however mark and label the top of your project with one safety-pin.

No Tape

Make sure your quilt top or wall hanging does not have any tape on it.

No Embellishments

Leave off all planned embellishments, including prairie points, until you receive your quilt back from me.  Items such as, but not limited to, beads, buttons, etc. prevent the quilt from loading correctly and are obstacles for my machine.

Special Instructions

If your quilt design includes embroidery, applique or folded fabric techniques make certain I know whether it is acceptable to quilt over them.

Press, Press, Press

Carefully press your project making sure all seams lay flat.  Press your quilt from the back side.  By doing so you will be able to direct all seams in the proper direction.  Seams that are pressed to the side result in thicker areas.  Thicker areas can cause your quilt to load unevenly on the rollers and possibly cause skipped or crooked stitches.  Paying careful attention to this detail will make the machine quilting process flow much smoother.

Leave Quilt Top, Batting and Backing Separate

Do not layer your quilt top, batting and backing together.  All three components will be loaded on separate rollers.


Borders can either serve as an elegant frame for your project or one of your worst nightmares.  One of the most common problems is a wavy border.  Nobody likes to have that happen.  There are numerous suggestions on how to avoid being a victim.  The resource that I have found most helpful is found at this link  Perfect Quilt Borders.


Fabric Quality

Choose your fabric wisely.  The back of your quilt is just as important as the top.  Avoid bed sheets.  Their thread count is too dense.

Proper Sizing

Your fabric must be at least 8″ larger than your quilt top, on all four sides.  This means that if your quilt top is 60 x 60 then your backing must be at least 68 x 68.  You might wonder why the extra fabric is necessary.  The reason is because extra fabric is needed for the loading process, thread tension testing and space between the machine and the clamps that will secure the sides of your fabric.

Difficult to Match

Be aware that if your quilt backing is pieced and has a definite center to its design it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to make sure it is matched up with the quilt top center.  Don’t be disappointed if they do not.

One Piece of Fabric

Preferably your quilt back would be one single width of fabric.  If you must use more than one piece of fabric I would prefer that your seams run horizontally rather than vertical.

Remove Selvage Edge

Before piecing your quilt back remove all selvage edges.  The selvage edge is the toughest area of the fabric.  Leaving them on makes that area of the backing stiffer and more difficult to work with.

1/2″ Seam

If your quilt is large enough that you must piece together more than one section of fabric, seam them together using a 1/2″ seam.  Don’t worry about this if you use a scrappy technique to assemble your quilt back, 1/4″ seams are just fine then.


Yours or Mine?

You may either provide your own or purchase it from me.

Make it Big Enough

If you will be providing your own, make sure your batting is at least as large as your quilt backing.

Which One?

If you have questions about what type of batting to purchase, follow one of these links The Filling Between the Sandwichallpeoplequiltvillagequiltworks.

Any Questions?

If you have questions about any of this material, you may leave a comment on my website or send a message to me at

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