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I have the old style table without the power advance.  I modified my table to the 4 bar system with help from Dave Jones.  Since I do not have the power advance, I can just remove bar # 3 and use the magnetic bars from Harbor freight?  I have the old style ratchet system.  I am assuming that the Texas Hold'em is only necessary for the power advance system.  In the mean time, me and my ratchets will keep clicking along.  :) Will someone please clarify the float, partial float and full float terms?  I do not pin my top to the last roller.  Thanks for the info.

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Hi Chris I don't know how much help I will be but will try. I took my quilt top roller off therefore I had to get the Texas holdem brake to have tension on your quilt back roller. I don't think it matters about the advance you have to have something to hold tension on backing when you remove the quilt top bar. I really like not having the quilt top bar on it's easier for me to navigate without holding my elbows up although some quilters like to rest their elbows on the bar. The only drawback I found is using CL front applications because your CL sits on that quilt top bar. I float tops by stitching down top to make sure quilt is square and baste down sides as I go. I also got the PVC clamps for stubborn quilts I use on quilt top bar to hold top. Now whether that is called full float or partial I am not sure. Don't know if this helped you at all but maybe someone with better knowledge will chime in.

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Your on the right track.  The Texas Hold Em is needed if your machine uses the friction brake between the two bars and you want to remove the topper bar and still use the brake.  Since you have the ratchets you're good to go and take off the topper bar if you like.  My understanding of Partial float would be not attaching the quilt top to the rollers and Full would be not attach neither top or backing to the rollers and just letting the hang to the floor. 



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Thanks for the info guys!  Nan, you brought up a good point when you mentioned circle lord.  I have the quiltizoid unit, and so I cannot remove bar #3 as the unit clamps on bars 2 and 3.    This is a perfect example why this forum is so helpful.  I would probably have taken off the bar an then when I wanted to use my quiltizoid it would have been  DUH!!!  However, I may look to see how hard it is to take the bar on and off.  I don't use the quiltizoid a lot. so I may not be ad-versed to putting the bar on and off.  I have to go down and have a look see at my machine.


Thanks for the clarification Nigel.  Glad to know I was on the right track with the Texas hold'um.  Apparently I partial float, but put me in water and I am a full floater.  Oh for goodness sake!  I think I have had way too much coffee this morning!  I'm off to watch the local Horse Show.  Have a great day everyone!

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Hi Chris,

I could be wrong but I've always thought you have to pin or attach both ends of the backing.

To me...

A partial float meant you pinned the top of the flimsie and let the rest of it hang with the batting.

A full float means no pinning at all of the flimsie.

I'm interested to see if this is correct.

I'd LOVE to have a way to do less pinning.

And, yes, no QZ with a Texas Hold Em.

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I've always wondered what a partial float is. I think you either attach the top to the front roller, or you float the top. I don't know how to partially do that! :D

The method you choose to attach the top edge of the top is your own choice. I use pins so I can adjust any fullness in the borders as I quilt. Sewing across works great as well. Whatever works.

I think, as with all other aspects of our lives, we find what works for us and stick with it. But there are always newer/better/more fun ways to do everything. 

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When I first started in 1997, there was no such thing as a "float". We pinned the backing to the "front" backing roller, then pinned the top to the "front" top roller. Then the batting was fed between the rollers and then ALL 3 layers were pulled TOGETHER and pinned to the "takeup" roller. Yup! Awkward and time consuming. :wacko:


The very first customer quilt I got was made out of old jeans, with thick polyester batting, AND a striped sheet for the backing! As tho' that wasn't bad enough, the customer wanted me to leave 2" all around so she could turn the sheet to the front and use it for the binding!  On that very first quilt, I had no choice but to do what I now call a "partial float". The backing are batting was pinned to the takeup roller, and the top of the topper was pinned 2" down from where the backing and batting were pinned. Several years later, it was common to "Partial Float" like this.


Then came channel locks and stitch regulators! Heaven on earth for longarmers!!! The lock was just a knob that was tightened down on the rail, but it worked for horizontal lines and that's what we used to make sure the batting was basted down to the backing in a perfectly straight line.

Then the topper was laid along that line and sewn down, with further stitching being added down the sides as the quilt was advanced.

This is what we term a "Partial Float", because the topper is only attached to the roller at the bottom end.
(BTW, I ONLY use zippers to attach my backing to the canvas leader, so no more pin jabs or snagged T-Shirts!)


The "Full Float" came next. (I think we got both smarter and lazier!) After the topper is basted down to the backing and batting at the "top" end, the rest of the quilt is allowed to "float". That is, it's not attached to any roller, but simply lays free between the backing and top rollers. This works, but it's still difficult to get access to the batting and makes it harder to keep the quilt straight and deal with fullness "at the source". I did it this way for about a year but wasn't completely happy with the results.


Then a brilliant APQS Dealer in Texas by the name of Connie Keller, took off the top roller and devised a partial roller, which APQS now manufactures and calls the Texas Hold'em ($49.95). When you remove the "top" roller, you can "full float" your quilts, have complete access to the batting, and easily spot where the problems are in the quilt top. It also makes it a whole lot easier to pull up your drafting stool to do some "frog stitching" because you have a perfectly flat surface to work on. YES, I'm very good at frog stitching! The longer you do it, the better you get! LOL


The latest brilliant idea came from someone who uses Harbor Freight, strong 18" magnetic bars, to hold the top & batting down to the "backing" roller, or "belly bar". This allows you to make sure seam lines are kept straight along the length of the rollers, and again, to deal with any extra fullness "at the source", instead of it getting pushed down to the bottom of the quilt. Usually, just a bit of steam with shrink extra fullness into submission.


The next idea I got while I was at Sharon Schamber's studio for 3 days in April. THIS one makes SO much sense I don't know why I never thought of it before!


One of the biggest problems we have as longarmers, is how much tension to put on the backing and top when we advance. It really doesn't matter how careful you are, the tensions are NOT going to be the same on all 3 layers if you tension them individually. If you're using polyester batting, it has a built in memory, and it WILL try to go back to it's original size and shape once it is no longer under tension. Then you end up with a quilt that "buckles" and you can't figure why!


Here's the trick: Treat all three layers as tho' you were "hooping" them for an embroidery machine (your longarm). Before you baste down the sides, take ALL tension off the backing, so the batting and top are laying smoothly on top of the backing, also with no tension. Now baste down the sides, THEN pull ALL 3 layers taut at once! (Don't over do it!) You can now add your side tension clamps and voila, you have a large embroidery hoop! Since I've been doing this, I've had very little extra fullness to deal with when I get to the bottom, and no pleats at the sides on the backing.


I've also started "side tensioning" my quilts with canvas leaders (also Sharon Schamber) that are pinned the full length between the rollers (AFTER basting down the sides!) This leader is then clamped around the inserted doweling at the other end, which holds the whole quilting space firm and taut. I do a LOT of custom quilting, lots of SID etc. and this side tensioning system keeps everything from moving, even when doing diagonal ruler work in the border.


I use my CompuQuitlers for intricate designs, and also do a lot of freehand fillers and ruler work. Keeping the quilting space stable is really important when doing computerized designs. I also leave my Ruler Mate base on all the time. This gives me a place to put my hands so I can "manipulate" the fabric when needed.


Hope that helps. Wish I'd known it all 16 years ago, but I guess I'm a slow learner! :rolleyes:

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Wow Darlene!  That is wonderful information!  Thank you so much, I will try the Sharon S. idea of putting tension on the entire sandwich.  I am always looking for ways to improve the look of the quilt when I give it back to my customer.  Just like the medical oath, " First do no harm".  Unfortunately, I learned just the way you described.  Lots of pinning using all three rollers. I am sure I over stretched some of those quilts.  Thanks again!

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Hi Meg,


BOTH sides of the backing are attached to the zippers on the leaders. Otherwise, what would you do when you got to the end of the quilt? I guess if you had a lot of extra backing you could just use the magnets, but that doesn't happen often.


What I mean is; attach the backing as described. Baste on the batting and then lay the top onto both layers and baste down at the top edge. Now, loosen the backing roller so there is NO STRETCH on the backing fabric. It doesn't need to be floppy, just smooth with no stretch on the fibres. (BTW, "fibre" is not misspelled if you're Canadian! :P ) Now, baste down the sides, THEN add a bit of tension to all 3 layers at once.

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