The Perfect Quilt

The Perfect Quilt

“THE PERFECT QUILT TOP”

1. BORDERS are unanimously the most troublesome item machine quilters have to deal with. Pay attention to your borders. Attach the borders correctly so they are not wavy. Make sure your seams of the borders are all pressed in one direction. Don't let them twist here and there. If you do not know how to attach a border correctly, ask your machine quilter, a quilting instructor, rent a video, ask a fellow quilter or check a book out at your local library. This is a critical part of your quilting success. Your machine quilter can only perform so much magic.
2. Press, press and press again. Make all seams consistent to one side or the other, i.e. do not make them twist going one direction at the top and the other direction at the bottom. Alternate the direction as necessary to make them nest into each other. Think ahead as to how the blocks will go together so when you press, you are able to press the seams in the appropriate manner. Set your thread by ironing the seams flat first, then to one side or the other, or if several seams are coming together, you might want to press them open. Press after seaming each and every piece before sewing the next seam. Press your finished quilt before taking to your machine quilter.

3. The backing requires some basic attention. Give your machine quilter enough fabric to do the job. They need to pin your backing and batting to the leaders on their machines. This means they need several inches of extra width and length on the backing. Ask your machine quilter how much extra he/she wants you to give them. Ask them if they want you to trim it down or if they would prefer to do it. This varies with each quilter, so be sure to ask. When seaming the backing fabrics, trim the selvedges off the center or piecing seams. Then press the seam open. Press entire backing. Do not put outside borders around your
backing. It is quite difficult if not impossible for the machine quilter to center the top exactly on your backing. If you need a bigger backing, insert another piece of fabric through the center. Or be creative and make a pieced insert. Just be sure to press the seams as carefully as the quilt top. Square off your backing before taking to be quilted. When squaring off, don't make the backing too small. If you have to piece your backing with two or three seams, be sure the grain line is going the same direction. In other words, don't make one piece horizontal across the grain and the other two vertical grains.
4. Trim those threads! If you don't want to trim as you sew, when your quilt top is done, turn it over and clip, clip, clip. Those threads may show through when your quilt is done. It's too late at that point to trim threads. Also trim back any fraying fabrics that are likely to show such as dark fraying next to a white fabric. Avoid thread "nests". If you hold onto your threads as you start to sew a seam, the thread will not get pulled into the seam causing a bulky nest of thread. Your seam will press nice and flat and your quilter won't break a needle.

5. Seams. Make true seams consistently throughout your quilt. If you start with a scant 1/4, stay with the scant. If you start with a full 1/4 or more, stay with it throughout. Reinforce your outside seams by adjusting your stitch length for the last 1/2" of the seam to a very tiny stitch. Or, stitch around the entire perimeter of your quilt. When your machine quilter puts this quilt on the roller bars, it will put tension on these seams. If they are already coming apart, this will make the problem worse. It is not up to your quilter to take the quilt off and reinforce the seams for you.
6. Square up as you go. Each step should measure exactly as called for. At the very least each and every block should be squared up before being joined to any other fabric such as a border, sashing, other blocks. Don't wait until the quilt top is done to start squaring up. Press, square, trim threads. Easy to do if you take the time. It will make an incredible difference in your finished quilt.

7. Don't use sheets as backing, especially the high thread count sheets. They are like iron to quilt through. Same for the really inexpensive battings. It's like quilting through steel wool. You have hours and hours into piecing a top, don't scrimp when it comes to the final touches.
8. Final details. Lay your quilt out wrong side up. Scan for stray threads, twisted seams, thread nests, lint, etc. Then turn the top over and do the same. Clip any threads you see, as well as the fraying threads from fabric that inevitably get caught in the seams. Remove any lint, pet hair, or other matter that may be clinging to the fabric. Fold your pressed and inspected top as little as possible for transporting to your quilter. This will help keep it from wrinkling again. If you are buying packaged batting, fluff it in your dryer for 15 minutes on low heat, remove from dryer, shake out and fold loosely.

If you are going to put embellishments on your quilt (beads, feathers, buttons, etc.) do it AFTER the quilting! These items break needles. The most important thing to remember is: If you have any question about what your machine quilter prefers, ask him/her. They will be happy to help you make your quilting the best so they can make their final product the best it can be. If you don't put the time and effort into making a stunning, well-constructed quilt top, please don't expect your machine quilter to magically make the quilt a blue ribbon winner.

It all starts with you.

These helpful tips were shared by a wonderful insightful woman

known to us at this time only as "happygranny".

This was taken from the files of MACHINE QUILTING PROFESSIONAL a list for quilters all over the world. (It is a Yahoo Group and you can join the same was we join Cathy’s List……….BEWARE though, they get hundreds of emails a week.)