An excellent resource for quilt preparation can be found at Jukebox Quilts. Click on the link there called How to Prepare Your Quilt for Longarm Quilting. Pay especially close attention to the section on Wavy Border Syndrome, particularly paragraphs three and four. Be sure to measure across the center of your quilt and cut your borders to that length. As described in that handout, after measuring across the center and cutting, pin your border to your top, matching ends, and then sew, working in the difference.
Many of us (and I’ve been guilty of this, myself) will instead make a long strip of border fabric and then sew that long piece to the quilt until we get to the end of the top and then cut the remainder off. While this feels quicker and easier than measuring, cutting and pinning, this practice will cause borders to contain several inches of additional fabric length than the length of the quilt top. The extra fabric usually isn’t obvious until the longarmer attempts to square the top on the machine and the border has waves in it (think: lettuce leaves). Avoiding wavy borders will go a long way toward preventing puckers and tucks on your finished quilt.
In addition to the above, please use the following guidelines in preparing your piece for your long arm quilter:
- Top and backing are clean and pressed.
- Top and backing are squared.
- Backing and batting (if providing your own) are 6-8″ longer and wider than your quilt top.
- Top edges of backing and top are marked (if either is directional).
- Consider ideas you might have on theme, design and patterns for the quilting.
- Consider your thoughts on thread color and batting.
The more you plan and articulate your ideas for your quilt, the happier we’ll both be with the end result!