Size: You must provide backing for your quilt that is at least 5″ larger than your quilt top in every direction. This means that the backing must be a total of 10" longer and wider than the length and width of your quilt. For example, if your quilt is 55" x 70", then your backing must be at least 65" x 80".
For those not familiar with longarm quilting, the backing must be attached to canvas leaders at the top and bottom and extra fabric is necessary to do this. Tension is placed on the sides of the quilt with clamps, which can cause distortion on the backing for the first couple of inches; a 5" per side allowance prevents the potential distortion from affecting your quilt.
Choice of Fabric: When choosing a backing, please remember that the thread on the back will match the quilting thread on the top; if unsure of what to choose, choose a backing with a print in multi-tones that coordinate with the colors used in the top or in colors that will match the quilting thread.
Seams: Backings may be pieced with ½" seams ironed open. (If you have 1/4" seams, don't rip them out, just know that a 1/2" seam offers more stability when ironed open.) You may leave the selvage edge attached if it is on the outside edge of your backing (not along a seam). If the selvage edge has been removed, please square your backing on the grain prior to drop off. Pieced backs are fine but note that I can't insure that it will be perfectly placed relative to the quilt top.
Ironing/Pressing: You do NOT need to press the back. Only the seam(s), if any need to be pressed. Press any seams open.
Preparing for machine quilting will lead to successful longarm quilting services.
quilt loaded onto a longarm quilting machine showing how much bigger the quilt back needs to be
Fullness: In many ways, successful longarm machine quilting depends on the quality of the top's piecing. While some adjustments can be made while quilting, It is a mistake to think that fullness, waving borders and irregular seams will just "quilt out". Please take a look at the section below that covers this in more detail. I will do everything in my power to adjust problem areas through easing, basting, additional quilting, and as a last resort taking tucks, but these steps can result in additional charges and ultimate responsibility for fullness lies with the piecer.
Pressing/Ironing: Please press your entire quilt top. And if your quilt back is pieced, please press that as well. Pressed piecing lays nice and flat and will allow my needle and hopping foot to glide smoothly and stitch evenly making for a very nicely finished quilt.
eight pointed star quilt block with a lot of fullness
If your outer border is pieced, please stitch all around it about 1/8" in from the outer edge to secure the seams. This is especially important if the outer edge contains biased edges.
Stay-stitching a pieced outer border.
Please, please, please measure your outer borders. Start with one side. Pick a side or a top/bottom border and measure the length of if. Now measure in the same direction down the center of your quilt. Are the 2 measurements pretty much the same? Not so much? If the outside measurement of that border is several inches larger, then you have significant fullness in your border. The picture shows a good example of this. You don't want this. This can't be "quilted out". I highly recommend removing the border(s) and following the procedure below:
To properly measure a border, measure the width of a top in three places; top, middle, and bottom. Find the average of these measurements and cut two borders to this measurement. Find the middle and quarter of each border and mark with a pin then do the same to the sides of your top. Match the pins and gently stretch or ease the pieces together. Iron the seam to the border. Do the same for the length of the quilt. This same process should be used if mitering the corners.
Attaching borders by sewing on a long strip then cutting of the excess and continuing around the quilt nearly always results in waving borders. Tearing your border fabric along the grain and then attaching it to your top also will stretch the outside edges of your border and distort them. If you have pieced borders, you can alter their length invisibly by sewing a new seam between blocks just inside or outside the existing seam. Each seam adjustment can lengthen or shorten a border by 1/8". So, just four seams can change the measurement by 1/2″.
Please, if you do nothing else, prepare your quilt for machine quilting and successful longarm quilting services by making sure your borders are sized properly.
To prewash fabrics or not. That is the question. And about as many quilters say to do it, as do not.
It is heartbreaking to spend your time and money on a quilting project only to wash it the first time and find colors migrating. While more modern dying and printing techniques have cut down on this problem, it is better to assume that dye migration is possible. Some fabrics, like dark batiks, should be washed multiple times. I do recommend placing several pieces of Shout's "Color Catchers" in with the wash and watching to see if it picks up any loose dye.
For more information on colors bleeding on quilts, here is a link to an awesome article: https://www.colorwaysbyvicki.com/save-my-bleeding-quilt.html#/
Additionally, different fabrics will shrink at different rates, even with the same manufacturer. This can make for really cool effects after quilting, but to avoid potential skewing of blocks, prewashing is best.
shout color catcher box
If you have a few scraps of the fabrics you used in your quilt top, please include these with your quilt when you forward it to me. It is very helpful to me to be able to use actual fabrics from your quilt top to try out threads and quilting designs.
bright fabric scraps