A blog site to share my trip towards becoming the quiltsmith I want to become.

QUILT PREPARATION for Long Arm Quilting

QUILT PREPARATION for Long Arm Quilting

Prepare your quilt top, back and batting for long arm quilting:
It is important to apply your borders squarely, using the following method, because if the borders are longer than the top, are put on without accurate measurement, the top will not lay flat. Pleats; and puckers will develop during the machine quilting process.

To apply borders properly:

  1. Measure your pieced top (before the borders are added). Lay your top out on a flat surface and measure at least three different places across the width and length.
  2. If these measurements are not equal, calculate the average measurement and use this result to cut the borders.
  3. Apply the border to the quilt top evenly – divide the top and border into quarters (or eighths) and ease or slightly stretch the border to fit.
  4. Fullness and or puckers within a border cannot be quilted out. We try our best to work in some fullness, but  cannot guarantee that puckers and tucks will not be sewn in. Just remember, the flatter your quilt top lays, the better your finished quilt will look.

• Please make sure all your seams are secure and your threads are clipped. Unclipped threads can show through.

• Press seam allowances to leave the least bulk at the seams, extra bulk causes bumpy quilting.

• Press your quilt top and fold it carefully. Transport the pressed quilt top carefully to preserve the press.

• Please do not layer top, batting and backing before folding. Fold or hang each piece separately.

If possible, remove all embellishments.

Mark the top of your quilt top and backing fabric with a safety pin.


• Ideally, the length wise grain-line of your backing fabric should run lengthwise, from top to bottom. If you need to piece your backing, avoid a seam directly down the center – piecing your large backing in thirds is best, and results in a longer wear of your quilt.

• Cut off any selvage edges before stitching the seam, use at least a ½” seam allowance and press open. Leave the selvage edges on outside edges of the quilt backing.

  • The back must be at least 4” wider on each side, and bottom, & 6” longer at top  than your quilt top. Total 8” wider and 10” longer. Leave selvedge on at sides if you can.
  • Trim the top and bottom edges of your backing so they are straight and square. This ensures the quilt loads onto the machine straight; this is important for keeping the design square on your top.
  • Press your backing well and fold it carefully. Transporting the pressed backing carefully to preserve the press. Please do not layer top, batting and backing before folding. Fold each piece separately.
  • Do not baste your quilt.


  • Batting must be 2″- 3″ greater on each four sides of the quilt top.
    • Hobbs Premium 80/20 batting is available from me at current market price. It is the best 80% cotton/20% polyester batting. The combination of long staple cotton fibres and polyester creates a strong, long wearing 100% machine washable batting. It will shrink up to 5% giving the desired look of antique puckering or soft dimension once quilted.
    • Also available: Quilters Comfort Soft Soya blend, 50% soy/50% organic cotton, fells like cashmere; and warm, light weight Tuscany Wool, both at market price.
    • You may provide your own preferred batting. Note that some battings need to be quilted more densely, and the texture of some batting may be lumpy and not quilt well. Purchase good quality batting from your quilt shop.

 Please note: The above preparation is important for successful machine quilting. Alternatively, I would be happy to prepare your pieces at a rate of $30.00 per hour.

If you have any questions call or visit me in my studio space at Sparrow Studioz.

Joan E. Smith QuiltSmith

Quilting  Services and Fibre art

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