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Advanced Quilt Not Square

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I\'ve had this problem forever and I can\'t figure out what is wrong or how to fix it and it frustrates me! I\'ve been doing this too long to still feel like a beginner.

Two ways it manifests itself. First, when doing a panto and now with CQ, after advancing the quilt and completing the second (third,etc) row of the design, the two rows are not parallel. There is almost always more space between rows at the left side of the quilt than the right side of the quilt. So this tells me that since CQ is going to give parallel results, there is something off in the bars that the quilt is attached to.

Secondly, there seems to be a drift to the left or right when the quilt is advanced. For example, if you set zero on CQ (using this CQ example once again because I consider it pure with respect to horizontal and vertical), and then index to the start of the next row and mark that point, and then advance the quilt and go to the indexed mark, it is generally farther left than the zero point as referenced by CQ.

So to make it more visual (with words). If I were to do a straight pantograph (or E2E) on a quilt without fiddling with spacing and starting points, I would end up with quilting that drifts to the right with less spacing between rows on the right than the left.

I have tried to determine if my roller bars are parallel (impossible task so far) and I can\'t see that they are not. There is no play in the vertical for the bars but I can move the backing bars to the left and right a little bit (a problem). My leaders match up but if the centers or off the play in the fabric won\'t show that.

I hope someone can help me get my table straight. As I said earlier, it is frustrating when I get beginner\'s gitters after five years.



Donna W Smith

Quilted For You

My Webshots Site:

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Hi Donna,

I don\'t have CQ but from the machine aspect, if the centers are off the "0" on 2 canvasses, wouldn\'t that indicate that there is drift?

I noticed that when I use the pink measuring tape, I can see that the left borders want to shift to the right. That is the movement of the machine, though, (from the front), we do quilt from left to right. I think is just something that we have to compensate for after we roll the quilt.

The lengthening distance between rows is a puzzler though. Could it be the brake? The brake is on the right side so it would seem, in my mind, that it would be stronger than the right side. Weird.

Is this Millie the same and you just added the CQ? Canvas stretch?

Wish I could be of more help. Maybe Amy could help.

Linda Card

APQS Chat Member since August 2005

Ramona Quilter Longarm Quilting Service (Retired Dec 2013)
Gammill Optimum Plus (sold to a friend Dec 2013)
Ramona, CA (Moved to Central Texas Sep 2014)

My webshots site: (not active)
Blog site: (not updated in months)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

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Hi Donna

Check that the hardware that holds the No 2 and No 3 rollers in place has equal amounts of thread showing on each end. I usually have NO thread showing on the NO 3 roller, this way I know that the roller is even. If its out the quilt will be stretched a little on the side where the bolt is screwed out more.

Good luck


sue in australia

APQS Australia

CQ Australia

613 9769 0248

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Have you squared your leaders? Even if the machine is new... the leaders may not be perfectly square to your table. Also, if you have had your machine a while, maybe your leaders have stretched or been skewed by improper rolling... For example, if you advance the quilt without making sure to pull the leader tightly back to the right side after quilting right to left. When you quilt in one direction the quilt may migrate a little. This small distance of migration will be compounded dramatically over the length of the quilt, eventually resulting in leaders that have been stretched and skewed.

Here\'s the way to check:

1.) Pin your pick-up leader to your quilt lining leader.

2.) Roll the leaders all the way onto the pick-up roller keeping the tension between the leaders fairly tight.

3.) Then roll the leaders back all the way onto the quilt lining roller, again keeping the tension between the rollers tight.

4.) Now roll back to the middle, where the pinned leader edges are in your sewing field.

5.) Using your channel lock, stitch a horizontal line (on the pick-up leader) as close to the pinned edge as possible.

6.) Move your needle below the pinned edges and sew another horizontal line (using your channel lock) on the quilt lining leader as close to the pinned edges as possible.

These horizontal stitched lines on each leader will be perfectly square to your table. If you see a difference in length between the stitched line and the edge on the same leader, then your leaders are not square. Here\'s how to fix:

7.) Unpin your leaders.

8.) On each leader, turn down the edge, so that the stitched line is exactly on the edge of the leader and sew down.

After you have confirmed your leaders are square, then you can check to make sure the problem is NOT in your pick-up roller by simply placing a 90 degree square tool to measure the height of your pick-up roller from the table. Also, if you look at the eyebolts that hold the roller, you should see the same number of visible threads exposed. You can also place a level on each roller and adjust the eyebolts. This will only work IF your table is perfectly level.

To make sure your leaders are rolling up squarely every time, you can repeat steps 1 -6 and measure the distance between the stitched line and the STRAIGHT SQUARED edge to see if the distance remains the same across each individual leader.

I never use my quilt top leader, so I didn\'t mention it. If you do not full float, and are using this leader, you will have to square it as well (pin to the pick-up leader and proceed with the squaring process)

I place a piece of painter\'s tape on my quilt top leader right above both edges of the quilt to visually confirm that my quilt rolls up straight each time. Simply look to make sure the tape remains at both quilt edges after each advance.

I know this all sounds complicated, but it is really easy to do. Hope this helps!!;)


P.S. Whoops! - Thought I had better add that I also stitch a new center line across both leaders using my vertical Channel lock while they are pinned together.... just to be sure!:D

Tina Collins

Jackson, MO


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Tina is dead on with checking your leaders. I had to do this myself and it worked like a charm.

I also want to suggest that most piecers will create a problem in the squareness of the quilt when adding their borders. Seems many I get are beautifully pieced but the borders where put on in hurry you might say.

I always check the squareness of my quilt before basting the top edge by running my machine (with Vertical lock on ) along the First interior Border seam. The seam against the body of the quilt. most likely this is the seam that is square I have found (Not always). If I find a difference I smooth my border out using the interior border seam rather the edge of Border. Before basting I check it again on the Interior Body Seam going down on left and right of quilt. Almost always it is square but not appearing as such on the exterior of quilt. I hope I explained that ok.

It\'s not the only way just another way the check the quilt top before beginning to quilt. If there is a difference you are able to prevent pucking that may show up only two to three passes into the quilt top. Also don\'t pull the center of quilt but rather work a bit of fullness into the quilt on the left and right with each pass paying careful attention to the seams of the piecing in the body of the quilt along the Belly Bar. I\'m talking very little. You can see with each pass how your quilt hangs so square as you move forward. This way all you fullness that is likely in borders is gradually worked and not all stuck at the bottom. I float 95% of the time and pin baste. I usually roll top for more complicated quilting. Any doubts in the squareness and I float.

Now check those leaders. Great advice. Good Luck to you.

Grammie Tammie

Tammie Baggett

aka Grammie Tammie

926 Stephens Dr

Westcliffe, Colorado 81252


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I use my wall laser to line up my table and rales, my table does have drift because of its design, having the legs off balance can also be a problem....Then I use the laser to square up the quilt on every pass when I\'m doing freehand, like with clam shells, for pantos I usually will let the computer do that kind of quilting, but I haven\'t noticed any problems with my leaders causing problems with drift...I stretch the backs and float the tops most of the time, using my channel locks to sew the top on straight first then go down the sides with the v-locks, I have an older frame and was taught to stretch the quilt a little, I\'ve noticed on moms frame she doesn\'t stretch the quilts like I do, but her quilting is great, and her stitches fine......Wall lasers are around 10 bucks and might help with this drift problem....:cool::cool::cool: I just thought about the table being off from the frame maybe just a fraction that adds up after many passes, thus causing the drift....hummmmmmm. a laser could check that too...:cool::cool::cool:

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