Preparing Your Quilt for Longarm Quilting

For machine quilting, accuracy is the single most important issue. The top, batting and backing are pinned to rails that are perfectly parallel. If you’ve not made sure your top and backing are super square, you can end up with tucks or puckers.

Quilt, backing and batting must be separate. The top and the backing are loaded on separate rollers on the Longarm machine, with the batting in the middle.

The Quilt Top

Carefully press and clip all loose threads; loose threads on the front can become entangled in the hopping foot and cause snags and uneven stitches. Loose dark threads on the back of the quilt top will show through on lighter fabric.

Press the top and stay stitch any pieced edges for stability.

Have a square top

Measure the center of your quilt top lengthwise, then measure the out side edges lengthwise. If there is more than 1.5 inches difference it is possible that your top will have tucks. Do the same measurement widthwise. The most common reason for measurement differences are stretched bias edges, mitered corners, or borders improperly applied.

Applying perfect borders

Measure your quilt lengthwise in three places; left, right, and center. Add all 3 measurements and divide by 3;

(61”+62”+ 60”= 183 and divided by 3 = 61)

Cut your two side borders at 61 inches. Pin border to quilt at each end and center; Ease to fit and pin to distribute any fullness. Sew and press. Repeat this process widthwise for the top and bottom borders. Repeat again for any other additional borders.


Choose backing fabric that will compliment the quilt top and the thread that you will be choosing.

The best way to piece the backing is to remove all selvages, and press your seams open. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of each backing seam to ensure that the seam will not come loose on the frame. After sewing the sections together, make sure the sides are perfectly square, and the whole unit is 6” larger that the quilt top.

If piecing your backing, carefully plan where your edge seams will be, and make your borders at least 10”. This will eliminate narrow seams once it is trimmed.


I carry several types of batting: Cotton, (Dream Cotton and Warm and Natural) Cotton Poly blend, (Hobbs 80/20) Poly, (Hobbs Tuscany).


There are many threads on the market, from light to heavy weight cottons, and polyesters to decorative metallics. I use a variety of threads and will discuss which ones will work best with your quilt.


  • Top and backing are accurately squared.
  • Backing and batting are at least 6” larger than top.
  • Top edges of quilt top and backing are marked.
  • Consider designs and patterns for the quilting of your quilt.
  • Clearly communicate any ideas or thoughts you may have with your quilter.

© 2014 Rose Flannigan. All rights reserved.