Today I thought we'd take a peak BEHIND THE SCENES in my quilting studio to see my longarm quilting process. How do I prepare a quilt for the longarm? How do I plan the design for the quilting and how is that stitched it out.
Want to see?
When I initially bring a quilt into my studio, I look at the overall theme and color scheme of the quilt to determine possible quilting designs. I base my design choices on factors such as motifs I see in the fabrics, the pieced design of the quilt itself, and the intended recipient of the quilt.
Once a quilting design is decided upon, it is time to load the quilt onto the longarm machine.
I begin by centering the backing fabric wrong side up on the back take up bar. I secure the quilt with Red Snappers. These ingenious notions keep the quilt top snug against the bar without the use of pins! (You can barely see them sticking out from underneath the backing fabric.) I roll the backing fabric onto the back bar, smoothing out wrinkles and adjusting the fabric as I go. I then use Red Snappers to secure the other end of the backing fabric to the front take up bar and rolling all of the fabric from the back bar to the takeup bar closest to where I stand.
Next I load the quilt top by attaching the bottom edge of the quilt with pins to my leader fabric. Once this is rolled up smoothly, I am ready to add the batting.
I add the batting between the two fabric layers allowing it to float down over the front and rest in a hammock under the machine. Using the channel lock feature on my longarm, I stitch a perfectly straight line across the top of the batting, securing it to the backing fabric.
This stitched line provides me with a straight edge to be sure that the quilt top is square to the backing material. I pin the quilt top along this line and then hand guide a stitched line approximately ¼ inch from the edge of the quilt top.
Finally, I stitch the side edges of the quilt down.
The quilt is now securely squared up on the machine and I am ready to program a design.
I create a stitching area on the longarm tablet that represents the
size of the quilt. After choosing the design from the library, I
repeat the motif to fill in the quilt area, adjusting sizing,
minimizing gaps in the design, adjusting edges, cropping outside
of the quilt area, etc. Once I am confident that the computer
design is accurate, I am ready for my initial row of stitches.
Working left to right across the quilt, the longarm stitches out the design one row at a time. I fit in as many rows as I can in the throat space before rotating the quilt to the next area. After each advance, I check spacing and placement to be sure that I have the design lined up prior to resuming stitching.
I am always close by to insure that I notice empty bobbins or thread breakages quickly. I am constantly checking tension on the top and bottom of the quilt to be sure that the stitching is perfect.
When I reach the bottom of the quilt,
I hand-guide the machine as I pull out the pins and stitch the edge down.
This means I have one more pass and the quilt will be completed!
Before removing the quilt from the frame,
I unroll it completely to again check for tension issues or stray threads.
When I am pleased with the results, I trim the backing to be flush with the quilt top.
When your finished quilt is returned it is ready for you to add the binding.
So, that’s it!
My entire process from beginning to end.
This job is so rewarding! I love seeing your quilts go from three separate
layers to a completed treasure! You are all so talented in the many
different patterns, colors, designs, fabrics, and sizes that you make.
I am blessed to be able to see all of your creations.