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I've been asked to quilt a queen-sized quilt. I'll be doing an edge-to-edge pattern. The backing has at least 2 borders all around the outside. How do I load and quilt this so that the quilt top is centered on the backing? Or do I call the lady and tell her that I can't guarantee that the finished quilt top will be centered on the backing. Her quilts have previously been hand quilted. I'd appreciate your help.


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Hi Carol.

Draft the top and the backer dimensions on graph paper. See where the top/bottom/sides need to be when the backer is centered. For example--the top and bottom need to be 4 inches from the top of the backer and four inches from the bottom of the backer---and the sides need to be 5 inches in on both sides. That's the optimum placement and shows where to load the top--- in a perfect world. Load the backer as usual. Load the batting so it covers where the top will sit. Load the top down a little from the line on your schematic--this will help offset any draw-up of the top after quilting. With thin batting--load about a half inch down. Thicker--an inch. If the quilt is really big, adjust accordingly since the longer the top and the thicker the batting, the more "shrinkage" from quilting. Your sides will be fine---just mark on your leader with tape where the sides should sit as you advance and hit the mark with each roll. I mark the backer at the center point of the side and also the top at the center point of the side just to see how close they are together when I get that far.

With all this said, it's really an educated guess when the backer is like this. I've had some come out perfectly and some off by as much as an inch. Hopefully the backer seams are far enough away from the edge of the quilt that it won't be noticeable if it's off. And it's the back, after all!  ;)

Give your customer a heads-up that the logistics of longarm quilting are such that this is sometimes difficult to accomplish.

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My teenaged niece created a quilt for a competition and I offered my longarm for her to quilt it. She pieced her backing the same as your clients and we did manage to load it and have it come out centered; it took effort but worked. Follow Linda's advice if you choose to quilt it. It's sound advice. My niece and her mother had no idea the difficulty in doing this until they actually saw this top being loaded. I am sure your client probably does not understand either. Good Luck!

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