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How to quilt and avoid pleats on backing?


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I am working on a quilt panel that has a large medallion in the center and numerous rectangles on the rest of the quilt top.  It is approx. 52x72, high loft poly batting, flannel backing, top and bobbin are monopoly thread and it will be used as a bed quilt.  I plan to start FM quilting the medallion in the center and radiate out from there.  I will then do Ruler Work on the rest of the top.  My concern is that I could create pleats on the backing.  Should I have spray, pin or thread basted the quilt before loading it, or what?????

Thank you for your suggestions. 

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If you plan to start in the center, stabilizing the entire top first is a good idea. Don't stabilize it off-frame---it's easy to do by loading and floating the quilt. Work from the center out, using the longest stitch on your machine. It can be thread-basted or secured with pins. If you use pins, it's easier to adjust areas as you quilt. If you thread-baste, stitching can be removed in areas if adjustment is needed. Just some random advice from a long-time quilter-for-hire who has seen every combo of fabric/thread/backer from customers--- Flannel as a backer has it's own set of challenges. It shrinks like crazy (up to 10% depending on manufacturer, so a 108" flannel backer can shrink down to 97" easily) so pre-shrinking flannel is necessary. If it's quilted before shrinking, the first laundering will result in more crinkle and bulges than you'll like, especially with the non-shrinking poly batting mentioned. Flannel stretches more than woven fabric, so check with each pass for problems on the back and make sure you have steady and consistent tension on the backer to avoid pleats. Not super-tight or you'll stretch the flannel and get "balloons" on the back side, especially if you are using lofty batting. My experience is that Monopoly should be avoided in the bobbin. It's slick and needs a bobbin thread with some "bite" to grab and make a nice stitch. (I think Dawn C gives this same advice.) I use BottomLine pre-wounds with invisible thread---the weight is similar to Monopoly and it works well. You have options as to quilting sequence but can fully stitch an area with FMQ and your SID/ruler work at the same time, especially if you won't have any top-thread changes. Good luck!

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