Monday, January 14, 2019

Quilt Backing - a Longarmer's Perspecitve

I wear a lot of hats in my little quilt business, with those as quilt maker, designer, and longarmer most important - without them, there would be no QuiltFabrication.
QuiltFabrication 2019 header
As I was loading a quilt back onto the frame for one of my Paradise quilts, the thought hit me that Susan, the longarmer, would not be very happy with Susan, the customer because of her pieced backing.

Now, because this is my quilt, I'll put up with my faux pas. But when giving quilts to a longarmer for quilting, make her life easier when she loads that backing onto her frame.

So, what did I do that annoys a longarmer? Well, I created a vertical seam in the backing.

vertical seam on a quilt back

And why is this annoying? Because, on a large quilt, it causes the backing to sag on the sides of the seam due to a tighter seam allowance buildup on the roller. 

sagging quilt backing due to a vertical seam

Instead of one piece of fabric rolling around on that roller, there are two to three pieces at the seam, depending on how the seam is pressed. Notice in the photo, my vertical seam is pressed open, which helps minimize some of the buildup, and lessen the sag.

pressed open vertical seam to minimize sag

And what will longarmers love? Horizontal seams, which run along the length of the roller, totally eliminating any sag.

horizontal quilt backing seams

So, whenever possible, make your seams horizontal - your longarmer will love you!

Happy Quilting!

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20 comments:

  1. Thank you for this information. I have wondered why my sides sag on some of my quilts when I have them loaded on my quilter. Now I will be more aware of how I put my backings on my quilter.

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  2. this happens on my hand quilting frame too - it has the 3 roller system and the very thing happens on mine too - I have had this frame for 20+ years and one would think I would learn but still now and then I do the seam vertically even though I know better!!

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  3. Thank-you for your post. I did not realize that vertical seams caused saggy sides or longarmer angst!!!!!!

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  4. Yes! Thank you so much for sharing about this. Thankfully I'm pretty much my only customer (haha) and it only takes one backing with a vertical seam to learn this lesson. o_O

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    1. I've done it many times - you would have thought I'd learned by now. But no, I put up with my own mistakes, thinking I won't repeat them. Yeah, right!

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  5. This is particularly true for larger quilts! Great idea to point this out, Susan. Think horizontally!

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  6. This is helpful to know. My longarmer has told me to use a horizontal seam when I've asked, but I've never thought to ask why.

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  7. Interesting. I've never needed to use a longarmer (I work small, so far), but will keep this in mind.

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  8. Hi Susan! Well, who knew that?! With no frame of reference as to how you load quilts though, even those instructions are meaningless. Couldn't you load a quilt lengthwise if it isn't too long? But, to save this discussion from getting out of hand and more confusing - I always try to buy 108" fabrics whenever I have a large quilt to be quilted by a longarmer friend. That works too, I'm sure! ~smile~ Roseanne

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    1. You could load the quilt the other direction, but that makes the panto design run side to side, instead of top to bottom. For some quilts, it wouldn't matter. But for a rectangular quilt that has a definite top and bottom, one would have to decide if seeing rows run up and down is preferable to seeing them run horizontally.
      It also depends on the panto. Some designs zig-zag across and nest nicely, so you can't clearly see the row. Other designs can be quite straight, and those rows are pretty noticeable.

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  9. Thank you for this information. Explains an issue I had.

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  10. Amen to you, Susan. So true.

    Cynthia

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  11. Thank you, Susan! This is so true! Thanks for educating our customers!!

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  12. When I am loading my quilts or a customer's quilt, I always check the backing for the direction of the seams. I'm the worst because I like to piece my label in the middle of the backing so it is quilted into the quilt so I ALWAYS have vertical seams. I just load the quilt sideways if it fits on my 12' frame, otherwise I'm sticking cans between my backing roller and fabric to help eliminate the sag. I have also found that if I use a fake "Red Snapper" on the sides of my backing and then use my clamps, it works well too.

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    1. Glad you've found a workaround, though some straight panto designs will definitely create rows side to side, versus up and down. Just another decision to make on the final design of the quilt.

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  13. Thank you, Susan. I love pieced backings, but never knew this about vertical seams.

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  14. Oh my...this makes so much sense. Guess that's why I have trouble some time LOL

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Thank you so much for commenting...you just made my day!