Centering Quilt backs

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I read the post regarding the customer who was unhappy with the centering of her quilt back and it got me thinking...

How do most of you approach this? I have a baby quilt I'm about to load onto the frame and the backing is a panel with a design. Has anyone ever loaded the quilt and basted it in the middle first, and then started quilting from the center?

Be gentle with me, I am a newbie and just thought I'd throw it out there :D

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I just fold each in 4ths and then line up the folds...

First - it helps to know that the backing is bigger than the front and that you have it lined up correctly

2nd - I then measure how much freeplay I have from the top of the backing until I start the top when I load it.

I can't take the stress of not knowing if I may run out of this is how I do it and it lines up pretty straight, but again, not absolutely perfectly....afterall this is hand guilded quilting....

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I threw one on this morning where I needed to be absolutely sure that part of the back lined up with part of the front, and to my very great delight, it worked perfectly. What I did was fold the backing fabric fabric into FOUR in each direction. So I folded it in half, marked the centre, and then in half again in the same "direction", and marked both of those "halves." Then I did the same with the other direction. Then I measured along the edge from the center mark to the first "fourth" on either side of the centre line. (So, if the backing were 20" wide, and 20" long, I'd have pins at 5", 10", and 15"). I did that horizontally AND vertically. Then, I folded the top in half, and used that measurement out from the middle. So if our top was 15" x 15", I'd have a pin in the centre at 7.5", and then pins at 2.5" and 12.5". This created marks that I could line up on all four sides.

I hope that came through, I've got a bad cold and am a bit punchy :) It works much better on small quilts (less than 60" or so), where at least one set of the vertical set of pins is within the throat space as it's loaded.

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Hi Kimberly,

Yes, you may baste the center area down to make sure the backer is centered and quilt out from that area. This works well with a baby quilt, but as the tops get larger, the entire quilt after basting the center will need to be stabilized so it can be rolled back and forth. It becomes unwieldy with all that extra fabric flapping around. :P

Trying to center the backer without basting is a crap-shoot. Estimating the draw-up of the top after quilting is hard. The things that impact that are whether you're floating the top, the thickness of the batting, and the stretch-if any-of the fabric. I never promise perfection but aim for it if I can. I just finished a 67" square quilt with three sections of fabric pieced for the backer. I tried to center the top on the backer, which was 77" square. Normally that would mean if you place the top 5" down from the backer edge and quilt it, logically there would be 5" of backer left at the bottom. With cotton batting, I placed the top 7" down from the backer edge, realizing that the quilting would draw up the top. When I finished quilting I had over 7 inches of backer left. Close, but not perfect.

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