Be sure all seams and stitches are secure. When a quilt is loaded onto the quilting
machine frame, it is stretched to assure no tucks appear on the quilt bottom and
that the stitching is even on the top. This stretching places stress on seams and
Make sure the quilt top lays flat. Measure the center of the quilt top vertically.
Then measure the outside edges vertically. If there is more than ½” difference,
it is possible your quilt will have tucks when quilted. Repeat the measuring process
horizontally. Fullness or puckers in the quilt top and wavy or ruffled borders cannot
necessarily be quilted out.
Check quilt top for loose threads. Make sure there are no dark threads showing through
lighter fabrics. If these threads are not trimmed, they will end up being quilted
and they will permanently show through on the front.
Stay-stitch ¼” around the outside of the quilt top. This stitching stabilizes the
edges, helps to secure seams in the borders, and provides an accurate design area.
Stitch with a thread that blends with the border so that it will be unnoticeable
if it is not entirely covered with binding.
Press your quilt top. Inspect the top to make sure no folds or pleats are formed
along seam lines. The hopping foot catches easily on these folds damaging the quilt
top. Turn your quilt top over and make sure the seams lie flat and are pressed in
opposite directions so as to minimize thick seam junctures.
Mark you quilt top. Mark the center of all four sides of the top with safety pins.
Mark the top edge of the quilt top with a safety pin and label stating “top.”
Do not baste or layer your quilt. Remove any basting thread, pins or tacks.
PREPARING THE QUILT BACKING
Select 100% cotton fabric for you backing. Poly/cotton and 100% polyester stretch
differently than cotton and can cause tucks and puckering during the quilting process.
Polyester fabrics tend to also cause “bearding” or migrating of the batting fibers
to the surface of the quilt.
Avoid sheets and batik fabric. The high thread count in these fabrics can cause
poor tension, skipped stitches, and thread breakage for the quilter.
Select a printed backing fabric similar in color to the quilting thread to be used
on the top. Printed backings are especially desirable for tops which have been pieced
from highly contrasting fabrics and which will be custom quilted. Backing fabric
that contrasts highly with the thread color is the least attractive choice.
Cut your backing a minimum of 4 inches larger than your quilt top on all sides. For
example: If your quilt top measures 60” x 60” the finished backing should be at
least 68” x 68”.
Seam backing from side to side. Backing that is seamed from side to side loads onto
a frame with less puckering than one that is seamed from top to bottom. For best
results sew with a 5/8” seam allowance and press seams open.
Remove selvedges before piecing the backing. Selvedges should never be included
in seam allowances. Selvedges may be left on the top and bottom edges of the backing
to stabilize the backing.
Ensure that all edges of the backing are straight.
Press your backing. Fold carefully to minimize wrinkles if the backing is not being
Mark your quilt backing. Mark the center of all four sides of the backing with safety
pins. Mark the top edge of the quilt backing with a safety pin and label stating
To select a thread color try “puddling” the thread across the quilt top.
To avoid “pokies” use the same color thread on the top and in the bobbin.
CHOOSING A QUILTER
Preview the quilters work. Ask to see examples of the quilters work. A great place
to “shop” for a quilter is at quilt shows. Note the names of quilters whose work
Share sketches, pictures, and ideas of how you would like your quilt done with the
quilter. Communicate your ideas to the quilter. The more the quilter understands
about your expectations, the better he/she can fulfill them.
Ask for a written estimate. The estimate should include the charges for services,
all additional fees, and the completion date for the project.
Allow plenty of time. Most professional quilters are quite busy. You may have to
wait several months to secure the services of your chosen quilter.
Understand the terminology. The following list includes a description of the most
common types of quilting services offered. Prices are generally set according to
the difficulty of the desired service and the amount of time required performing
TYPES OF QUILTING
Edge to Edge or Allover — This is a single pattern or pantograph pattern, which is
quilted over the entire quilt top.
Free Motion — Random edge to edge quilting without the aid of a pantograph pattern
Meandering — Free motion quilting in a consistent pattern over the entire quilt top.
Custom — Any combination of free motion, pantograph patterns, meandering, blocks,
stitch-in-the-ditch, border treatments or templates used to complete a quilt top.
Outlining — Free motion quilting around appliqués or around preprinted designs on
a quilt top. Considered Custom Quilting.
Stitch in the Ditch — Stitching in between seam lines to add definition to quilt
blocks. Considered custom quilting given the tedious nation of the quilting so that
the stitches do not show but the desired block definition does.
Heirloom — Typically intricate, heavy quilting designs that are very labor intensive
such as trapunto, wholecloth, or designs requiring that the entire quilt be marked
prior to quilting.