Frequently Asked Quilting Questions

I’ve heard of a new longarm machine that is run by a computer, what is that?

You heard about the Compu-Quilter or the Statler Stitcher machines. Both of these machines are very high tech in that they are programmable and can run independently without human hands guiding them.

What is edge-to-edge quilting?

Edge-to-edge quilting is applying a pattern that does not necessarily follow the pieced pattern of the quilt top. It is a design that is applied in separate or interlocking rows from left to right; top to bottom.

What is Freehand Overall Quilting?

Freehand overall pattern is also edge-to-edge but is a freehand design that applies without the aid of a paper pattern or marking the quilt top.

What does “Hand-Guided Machine Quilting” mean?

This kind of quilting is by hand-guided machine. The best quilting sewing machine is basically a huge sewing machine on wheels (see a picture) . There is no computerized modules or set patterns. All the stitching patterns are created by your hands moving the sewing head over your quilt; thus the name “hand-guided”. The stitching looks very much like the average sewing machine stitch. It is very sturdy and will not break with ordinary wear and use. The stitch lengths vary slightly due to the change in the speed of movement to create the pattern you choose. You should be able to enjoy your quilts through many years of wash and use. To see some stitching in actual quilts look at the patterns pages.

How big of a quilt can a Quilting machine handle?

The limiting factor on “how big” is your quilt’s width. The quilt cannot be wider than the leaders that hold the quilt on the machine. Most quilting machines can handle quilts up to 100 inches wide. Length of the quilt isn’t limiting because it is just rolled up on the machine.

What if my quilt has fullness and wrinkles? Will that quilt out?

Wrinkles and fullness pieced into a quilt top will not “quilt-out”. Choosing the right quilting pattern helps with this problem. If you want to disguise fullness, then choose meandering over the whole quilt. This pattern has no quilting lines that cross and will allow the fullness to be distributed between the quilting. If there are lines that cross in the quilting pattern and there is fullness in the piecing, there will be tucks without question! If this is your first quilt and you are reluctant to have it finished because of the piecing, meandering is the answer to your prayers. Don’t take all those seams out, it will look fine with this pattern on it and you will have your first quilt to look back at in the years to come.

How is my quilt attached to the machine?

The quilt backing will be pinned at the top to a leader on the quilting machine and again at the bottom to another leader. These leaders are attached to rollers which pull the fabric from top to bottom. Your quilt top and the batting are basted at the top to the already loaded backing fabric and then the bottom edge of your top is pinned to a third leader on the machine. This allows the top and backing to be pulled tight (not stretched) independently. The sides of your quilt are pinned or basted through all three layers so that they are stable. The side clamps are applied only to the backing fabric and pulled gently to keep the quilt tight side-to-side. This way there is no stress applied directly to your quilt top.

Can you give me some advice on choosing a batting for machine quilting?

When selecting your batting, please do not purchase “Unbonded” batting. It is very fragile and cannot be put on the machine. The best batting choices are: bonded and/or needlepunched polyester, cotton with scrim binder, or bonded cotton-polyester blends. In my experience, the best manufacturers of battings suitable for machine quilting are: Hobbs; Warm & Natural; and Quilter’s Dream for cottons and blends and for polyester batting, Hobbs; Quilter’s Dream; and Fairfield (needlepunched).

This is a difficult question to answer because there are many factors to consider. What is the life of the quilt? Is it for a child? Will it only be displayed? Will it be hung on a wall? Will it be washed a lot? Do you want a light quilt or a heavy quilt? Is warmth a factor? Will it be used as a tablecloth? I like to put cotton in a child’s quilt because of fire safety, but many people use poly because it has a little bit of loft. Either one is pretty light weight and the child can handle it fine. If the quilt will be displayed over a rack etc. you will want to use a batting that drapes well like Fairfield poly; or Quilter’s Dream cotton or poly; or Hobbs 80/20 blend or Hobbs wool.

If you will be hanging the quilt on a wall, use Hobbs cotton with scrim or Warm & Natural cotton because these battings are very stable with a scrim binder and they will not bunch up, plus they hang straight. For that old fashioned look of Grandma’s quilt, use a 100% cotton batting. For a smooth look even after it’s washed, use 100% polyester. Just about all these battings mentioned above can work in a light to medium weight quilt.

If you want a heavy weight quilt use Quilter’s Dream Deluxe batting. QD makes this weight (deluxe) in both cotton and polyester. For warmth, I recommend Quilter’s Dream Deluxe or Hobbs 100% wool batting. For a very thin batting as in a table cloth or quilted clothing, use Quilter’s Dream Request cotton or poly. If you want a “fat batting” like a comforter; consider using the Hobbs wool batting which poofs nicely, but isn’t obnoxiously lofty; or look at Hobbs poly down batting.

Do you have any advice on making a backing?

Measure the quilt and make the backing at least 5 inches larger all around. This means add 10 inches to the measurements of the quilt and that should be the minimum size of your backing piece. Make sure you cut the selvages off the seam allowances that are going to be inside the quilt because they can pull the backing unevenly and cause puckers during the quilting process. You may leave the selvage on the outer edges as it makes a very stable edge to pin to the leaders and they will be trimmed off later when you put your binding on. Please make sure your quilt is trimmed even and all the edges are straight. You should get the seams to run across from side to side. This gives a much more even pull to the seam than if it runs from top to bottom. Also, keep in mine that most quilters require the extra five inches all around to aid her in mounting the backing fabric.