squaring a customers quilt.

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My biggest issue with the 90% of backs that come in not square is my irritation. It was very freeing when I finally reached the point of acceptance. People are not going to square their backs, for the most part. Oh well. I square them using the vertical fold method, ignoring the grain line if the back is pieced and not on grain, and charge for the service.

I charge $5 to $15, depending on the time it takes.

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Oh Bonnie, that was a happy laugh! Yes, if it came it wonky and I "fixed" it, luck would be they made it that way on purpose -- artsy folks you know. ha, ha, ha. I belly laughed at that one.

My rep (name removed) gave a lesson about squaring up backs without cutting. You fold the backing and hold the top and bottom edges together, maybe hang them on the rollers and shimmy them back and forth against each other until there's no pulling in either direction at the fold line. Same as you do for squaring up fabric for piecing. But instead of doing any cutting to square you just mark the edges where there's overlap and measure center from there. Center found, pin on. voila.

If that is clear as mud maybe we can get Linda to explain it to us again.

It's always good to laugh. Thanks, Eva

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That is just what I have been thinking as I read these posts. Why must the whole thing be PERFECTLY square, when all you really need is a square edge at the lead and end edges of the quilt back?

Somewhere on this site I read a suggestion to load the back, then roll it back and forth several times its full length between the front and take up rollers. I find that this helps to even out the back. Then I stitch a horizontal line with the channel lock to give me a straight line to pin the top against, another suggestion that I read here.

These two things seem to help with backs so far! I will keep in mind Linda's suggestion about finding the center point. It's another good suggestion. Boy, there's a lot to be learned here.

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quiltbee I would suggest you try sewing on a leader in muslin or junk fabric and square it up the way I described and hopefully it will be big enough to cover your customer quilt.

I was going to make a comment on the tearing method but did not want to seem contrary. So here it is: when fabric goes thru its process at the factory it goes thru a series of steps. First of which is the weaving of the fabric. After that it goes thru dyeing and seveal other things. By the time it ends up folded in half on a bolt it is not necessarily square any more. If you tear it you might get a parallagram. When I first learned to sew in the 4th grade my sisters and I would each grab an opposite end and try to bring it back into shape so I learned this early on that just because you tear it does not mean that you have it square. I prefer to cut you fabric at a 90 degree angle to the selvedges.................that way I know the piece is square..................yes it might be off grain but it is square and will load easily on the machine.

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I'm with Linda/9Patch.

Why worry about the sides being square (I do make sure there is enough width for the quilt when the sides are off). If you have torn the fabric on grain, then the quilt shouldn't get catywompus (sp?). Fold the fabric to find the true centers, it may not be in the same spot on top as on bottom (if that makes sense) as the sides will still be kind of crooked. You will have a straight edge top and bottom to pin on the leaders. If I need to turn a quilt, I will then square up the sides after it has been quilted and ready to turn. I have never had a quilt go funny using this method, in fact I have had several comments on how straight and square my quilts hang.


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Wow - LOTS of good info here! LOVe this forum!:D But I can NOT stand the

sound of ripping fabric - oh that just cuts through me....... like fingernails on

a chalkboard...... I too will do the folding and cut method, not messing with

the sides, that can be whatever it is, just need the top and bottom straight

and even with each other. After I quilt the quilt, trying to keep it as square

as possible, tugging here and there maybe, but hey - it is what it is!! I have

had a quilt with a pieced square in each corner. Went pretty well, knew

that I was going to have a problem with one..... It was over an 1 1/2" off -

one border was longer - no way to work that in!! I called the customer, and

she wanted me to fix it. Thank goodness for zippers!!!!!!!!:P And yes, I too

took digital photos of the process for the customer... "This is why..."

I just tried to tell a lady yesterday how to piece a backing. She brought it

in, with the selvedges on, and a 1/4" seam, yuck! Well, after getting the

backing fixed, and working on the quilt, I found more of the selvedges

IN the quilt top, oh how that looks so nasty! Why don't people just trim

that stuff off!?!?? All those little pin holes in the pieces, and I have heard

about puckers later after washing...:( oh well - "it goes out like it came in"!

I like that!! I should stitch that one on my apron too!!:D

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A good friend from work brought me her adult daughter's first effort to quilt. She had purchased the fabric two years before and had even painted her livingroom in colors to match the fabric!

Very nice design, and as I quilted down I discovered several (5 or 6) blocks with the selvedge color edging the blocks. I called her and she said not to worry--she didn't care. Just do it! Well, a little farther down was a big block with so much selvedge showing, you could see the dye circles and the text!! She didn't care, I quilted it, and now every time I visit her home and see the quilt hanging, guess where my eye goes?!!

She loves it and that is all that matters.

Linda Rech


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Mary Beth, I think you have a point, people can become pretty defensive if you try to tell them you have a way that you think is better, especially if their way has worked for them. But I think maybe part (not all) of the problem is that if your customer has never quilted on a long arm (or a short arm for that matter), they might not understand your struggle to get their quilt quilted with the problems it comes with.

Sometimes even if someone "tells" you its better to do something this way or that way, its hard for the message to sink in, when you are juggling with what feels like a hundred different design and construction issues all at once when you are first learning to make a quilt. Some of my best lessons came when I had to learn by doing. Maybe you could invite your customer into your studio and show him or her how much of a difference it would make for the "quilter" if they provided a squared back, and the struggle you go through when it isn't squared...same with borders and piecing problems.

Just a thought........


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CucumberQuilting - cool, crisy and busy?! Great! - where are you by the


I DO like your apron! - mine now reads "Longarmed and Dangerous" my

past employer brought it back from market a couple of years ago for me. I

need to make me a new one though - one that is of a style that does NOT

go around my neck - don't like to have that being choked feeling.....grrr....

but HAVE to have the pockets!

You are right about all four sides - I don't often turn a quilt, but sometimes.

I have taught them at the LQS how I want the seams to run when I load it

on my LA - they understood the reason behind it when I explained why. It

all helps!

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Hi Judy,

I'm in Central Oregon, not far from the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. Lucky gosh darn me!

Continuing on the backside: Today (Sunday) I am piecing the back for --- tah, dah --- a charity quilt! Pulled it out of the closet, went to pin it on and had several yards of muslin instead of a back. Oh well, at least I know it will be square and I can load it to quilt in any direction I want.

Just have to keep a smile on, right?

PS: Q? Since you are a posting expert and I'm a newbie of sorts. How do you get the info below the dashed lines added to your posting? Thanks, Eva

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Oh My gosh - it actually DOES say that I am a "posting expert"?? Please!

That just changes after you have had so many responses. I could just put

in a little babble here and there - and before you know it - I'm an expert!

I see you figured-out the whole signature thingy and put in Oregon - never

been there - would LOVE to be there when the Quilt show it on! I have

seen photos! Looks awesome! Lucky you!!:D

Oh p.s. did you know that you can go back and edit your

posts? Only you can do yours, at the upper right corner of

your posted message is an "edit" button. Nice if you see a

silly spelling error...... wish this had spell check!! Takes me

awhile to fix everything..... Plus you can delete or change

photos in your posts too!

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Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show -- 2nd Saturday in July, ALWAYS! so put it on your calendar.

It's big, there's no way you can see it all. Just wear comfy shoes, cool clothes and make the trek. It's crowded and crazy but there's nothing else like it!

If you want to see a few more pics from last year's show they're at my webshots page. Another person named easystitches also has a Sisters Quilt Show album.

I've been to MN. Grew up in Wyoming, went to school in SD. Brrrr. It's maybe not a whole lot warmer here but if I keep traveling West I'm not so far from Hawaii am I? :D

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