Preparing Your Quilt

The better you prepare your quilt, the better it will look when finished. Please carefully review the guidelines below. Also, the better your quilt top and backing are prepared for quilting, the quicker the quilt will be finished and additional charges can be avoided.

  • Quilt top and backing must be separate. Do not pin or baste layers together. The pieces are rolled onto the long arm separately.
  • Backing should measure at least eight inches longer and eight inches wider than the quilt top. For example, if your quilt top measures 60″ x 80″, the backing should measure at least 68″ x 88″. This will allow four inches completely around the quilt top. If the backing is larger, no problem. The extra materials will be returned. Bed sheets will not be accepted for backing.
  • Backing should be 100% cotton as a poly/cotton blend or 100% polyester will stretch differently during the quilting process. Tucks and puckering may result.
  • Please put a good deal of thought into your choice of backing fabric and preparation. If your fabric needs to be pieced, trim the selvedge edges first. It doesn’t really matter if you press the seam open or to the side – it’s a personal preference and often depends on the weave of the fabric. Do consider matching the repeats if you have selected a backing with large motifs. Extra fabric will be needed for large motif designs. If you have fashioned a backing that includes a motif(s) that needs centering, let us know as we can do this. It can be time consuming and sometimes difficult, so naturally, there will be an charge extra for this. Press the backing fabric well. There will be an extra charge of $10 if I do the pressing.
  • Dark back fabric can create a unique problem. During the quilting process bearding can occur depending on the specific fabric and batting types. If the backing fabric is dark, and the batting light, the bearding may show up as outlines of the quilting lines. If the backing fabric must be dark, consider using black batting. This will depend upon whether the quilt top is light fabric colors or dark colors. Just something to think about.
  • Please make sure the backing is squared. Use a 90-degree ruler to make sure the fabric is square to itself. If I square the fabric for you, there will be an extra charge of $10.
  • If your quilt top or backing fabric has a definite top edge in the design, please safety pin a note to indicate which side or end is the “top.”
  • The quilt top must be free of embellishments such as buttons and beads. The long arm sewing machine cannot sew over them. They need be added after the quilting is finished.
  • Make sure seams are secure. If your quilt top has no border, run a 1/4″ seam all the way around the outside edge. Loose seams will separate when the quilt top is placed on the long arm sewing machine rollers.
  • Clip all loose threads and press the seams well. Try to press seam allowances toward similar or darker color fabrics. If necessary, clip the seam allowance of darker fabrics to be slightly shorter than lighter color fabrics. Dark threads and seam allowance fabric may show through lighter colored fabrics after the quilt is quilted.
  • Check your quilt top for extra or stretched fabric. The quilt top should lay flat when placed on a smooth surface. If the fabric forms tents or bubbles, these may end up as small folds or overlaps when quilted. Extra time, and money, may result when the quilting process must slow down to work with puffy and uneven fabric.
  • Make sure your quilt top is square and edges are straight. Make any adjustments necessary before sending the quilt top for quilting. A quilt top out of square before it is quilted … will be out of square when finished.
  • Bear Paw provides all thread. We use threads specifically designed for long arm sewing machines. We have both 100% cotton and polyester/cotton blend threads, as well as solid and variegated color threads. See the Pricing page for cost breakdown.
  • At Bear Paw we prefer to provide the batting for your quilt. There are many different options. Some batting works better with long arm machines than others. Some brands result in a great deal of fabric dust and others do not.
  • Binding: Include one yard of fabric if you would like Bear Paw to add the binding. Binding strips will be either sewn to the back of the quilt and machine stitched on the front … or … machine stitched to the front and hand stitched to the back. Both options include mitered corners. See Pricing page for additional charges.
  • Shipping: Place the quilt top, backing fabric, and a printed copy of the order form in a heavy duty zipper locking bag or similar moisture resistant bag. USPS Flat Rate Boxes are an excellent choice for shipping your quilt.
  • Shipping the finished quilt. The cost of shipping your finished quilt back to you will be about the same as your cost to ship the quilt to Bear Paw. If Bear Paw provides the batting, your initial shipping cost will be less because of the absence of the batting. Insurance is optional.

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