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Hi,

 

I posted last year when I was trying to decide which machine to buy - I was looking at the Lenni. Well, I went from looking at the Lenni to purchasing a Millie because I figured I was only going to make the investment once and I didn't want to be sorry later! So I stretched the budget and got a demo Millie. Since then, I check the forum regularly and have learned so much from the posts. I usually can find my answer without asking but now it's time to ask.........

 

I've just started really using Millie and I swore I'd never do pantos, but I took the plunge and I've done about 5 quilts now. My first question relates to pantos. I mark the top and sides of the quilt on the panto cover when I first start and all is fine, but by the time I get to the end of the quilt, my sides are sometimes 1/2" different - when I think I'm still on the edge of the quilt, I'm actually way off to the side (the left side - standing at the back of the machine -  is the worst.) The last one I did I was 3/4 inch off on the left side. The quilt is straight and I'm being real careful when I advance the quilt making sure my sides are even.

 

Maybe it's related to this question -  I just loaded another quilt and I noticed that when I pinned the backing, the left side - standing at the front of the machine - of the backing (and canvas) hangs down lower than the right side. Everything looks straight when I roll the backing, and the sides are straight, but the canvas hangs a little. Is my canvas on crooked? I haven't really used the machine so much that the canvas should be stretched (although it was a demo.)

 

Last question, partial floating vs. full floating? I've read lots of posts and I know there are different opinions, but I keep going back and forth between the two methods and I am just wondering if there is any real advantage of one over the other.

 

Thanks for any help!

Debbi

 

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Hi Debbi. I would definitely check your canvas to see if it is off a little. Are you loading the quilt top on the bar? There is a chance it might not be completely evenly rolled. I always float my tops so I can adjust them as needs be as I go. I quilt for customers and I almost never have a quilt that completely lines up every time you advance rows.

 

As far as floating goes, I always float my quilt tops. I've been quilting for customers for 2 years now and I think I loaded one top in all that time. I bought the tool magnets from Harbor Freight. Those long black bars that you would fix to the wall and stick screwdrivers to. I think I bought 6. I feel like I have a lot more freedom to adjust the quilt top as I go and make sure everything lines up nicely. In fact, I just took the quilt top loading bar off completely and I have loads more visibility. I love it!

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I always float my tops. It's easy to make adjustments as you see trouble spots coming. I use stick-to-itself cord organizer strips to wrap around the top roller to mark the edges of my top, and work to keep the edges of the top lined up with the strips to maintain top width. But tops often have a mind of their own. I use pantos a lot, and with each advance, I check to see if I need to remark the sides of the top onto the plastic covering the panto.

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You can check the length of the canvas when you take this last quilt off, by unrolling the canvas and comparing the two sides to see if they are the same distance from the floor completely unrolled.

 

Something else to check would be the distance between the front bar and the back bar and that it is the same. The back bar I am referring too is the one that is closest to the bed of your machine, not the take up bar that you roll the finished quilt on.

 

Use a cloth tape measure, wrapped around both bars and meet on the front bar on the same spot on each end of the frame. They should measure the same distance on both ends of the frame.

Debbie

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You're being too hard on yourself.  1/2 and inch is nothing to worry about.  The quilt will pull in as you're quilting it.  And it's rare to have a perfectly square quilt.  They relax when you take them off the frame.  I float my quilts because it's easier for me.  But I've often thought, with larger quilts, I would have more control if I did pin to the top bar.

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I've always had these same problems Debbi. And have never asked why. Not sure why I haven't. I float my quilts and am very careful that everything lines up when rolling. It seems I always have at least a 1/4 or 1/2" difference. As Libby says it all relaxes when you remove it. Thanks for posting this topic.

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I float my quilt tops, too.............to make sure I am getting it on straight to start, I use my horizontal/vertical lock to stitch a line across the top of the batting/backing...........then lay the quilt top on that line because I know it is straight.    Usually have good luck with that..........

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Thanks for the suggestions.  I did check my canvas and it was rolled a little crooked - not much - so I did re-roll it.  My bars are equal distance so that's not a problem. I've got another quilt ready to go so I will see if that made any difference.

 

I haven't seen a difference between the quilts when I've pinned or when I've floated - but I haven't quilted a lot of quilts.

 

I always float my tops. It's easy to make adjustments as you see trouble spots coming. I use stick-to-itself cord organizer strips to wrap around the top roller to mark the edges of my top, and work to keep the edges of the top lined up with the strips to maintain top width.

 

I love this idea, I've tried the painter's tape, and my husband gave me some conduit clamps, but I haven't been real happy with either option. The velcro strips seem like a great option.

 

Thanks for the comment Libby, I keep telling myself that I'm too critical of my work.

 

I have to say that I really admire the work that professional long arm quilters do. I think it would be extremely frustrating to deal with other quilter's quilts that might not be square or other problems you encounter. At least with my own quilts I know what I'm dealing with. Right now I'm a hobby quilter and don't know that I'll ever take the plunge into quilting for others!

 

Debbi

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I float all my quilts too.  I'm fairly sure that Linda B and I do the same line up.  I load my backing, then I put my batting on as close to the roller as possible, I then use my channel locks to baste the backing and batting to give me a nice straight line.  I line my top up on the line, baste it and away I go.  Libby is right most quilts aren't square but you will learn quickly what works best for you to make adjustments as you go.  Have fun, be precise but don't over think it.  We're quilter's, we are hardest on ourselves.  I believe every quilter was born a perfectionist!!!

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Sorry this isn't the best pic since I don't actually have a quilt loaded at the moment, but it gives you the idea. I have taken the quilt top roller bar off too so don't let that throw you off. So I load the quilt back onto the bars. Then I lay the batting and quilt top over the back and stitch across the batting and quilt top and both hang down over the bar closest to you when you are standing at the front of the machine. I put as many Harbor Freight magnet bars across as it takes to cover the entire quilt top leaving no space in between them. When I'm ready to advance the quilt, I put the bars on the quilt top roller bar (before I took it off) to get them out of the way. Advance your quilt. Put the bars back on across the quilt top and off you go!

post-51563-0-50112800-1470271662_thumb.jpg

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They fall off occasionally. I'm just aware of it and make sure they are angled slightly more toward the quilt than the floor. What do you mean about the leader? Did I take the canvas off? No. I just removed the second  bar so I have more visibility. I never load the quilt top so I didn't use it

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Love having the bar off. I just had to get used to the fact that I can't actually quilt in the extra space. I also have more room for my arm. It doesn't hit the clamps at the left side when I'm doing custom or get wedged in between the bar and the handle. Don't have to stuff the batting and quilt top under the bar when loading either. Don't know why I didn't do this earlier:)

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Debbi:  I've puzzled over the apparent "shrinking" in on the sides as I quilt down a quilt.  I have pretty much decided that the "shrink" is due to the seams in the piecing, and different rates of stretch of fabric on the quilt top.  If the seams in the piecing are not very carefully pressed so that there is no extra fabric folded over at the seam, the top stays fairly straight and even.  If, on the other hand, there is fabric folded over (on most of the quilts I quilt this is the case), the top will stretch and contract as you pull on it.  If you tug on it, it will flatten the seams out, but without pressure, the seams contract, effectively making the quilt narrower.  As you quilt, you stitch the contracted dimension into the quilt.  Since the start of the quilt was spread out when you pinned it, or basted it, it becomes wider than the rest of the quilt as you quilt down.  If you've pinned the bottom end to your leader, you end up with the same situation.  The end of the quilt is wider than the middle.  The other issue here is that very frequently the borders of the quilt are not pieced, or are only lightly pieced.  They simply don't have the number of seams in them to contract the quilt dimension like the pieced portions, so the "shrink" isn't uniform.  When you quilt, you sew in this distortion.

 

Now, what to do about it?  Floating the top should help a bit, but you'll still have an uneven contracting of the pieced portion compared to the borders.  I think the best way this unevenness can be dealt with is by careful pressing of the top to eliminate all the folded over fabric.  Good luck with that!  Encourage your customers to press more precisely, and resign yourself to the fact that the quilt dimensions probably aren't going to come out exactly as you expect.  The issue of seam stretch is why I find it difficult to get an extremely accurate measurement of a quilt top.  I hope this helps you understand the problem you identified, and maybe mitigate it a bit.  Good luck.  Jim  

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