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Requested: Squaring Leaders- "How-To"


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*I had previously posted this in another forum and was asked to repost the info here. The original post was about quilts not rolling up evenly..;)

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.


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

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!!;)

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You originally posted this to help me. I did square up my leaders (which were not square) and that has made a difference in my quilting. This information should be given with every new machine/table sold. While doing this, I remembered how clueless I was in the beginning! Information like this helps tremendously.



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You are all very welcome!!!

When I first started longarming, my leaders were not square by any stretch of the imagination, even though my machine was brand-new. I was totally confused and completely frustrated when my pantos would slowly climb up on one side. So... I understand extremely well how aggravating it is to spend so much $$$$ on a longarm and still NOT be able to do a decent quilt. I remember one time when I walked away from my longarm in tears and refused to go back for over 2 weeks!!! That is, until the next longarm payment was due.... then I decided I was going to have to figure out how to use the "demon machine" so I could make the loan payments on it!! LOL!!!:)

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  • 3 months later...
  • 1 year later...

I have also printed your instructions on squaring up the leaders. Thank you. I too have had quilts that the pantos seem to climb uphill on one side. I don't do quilts for others so they are all my own which I give away for the most part. I will try these tips and see if it makes a difference.

I use Velcro and zippers to attach quilts to the leaders so I can adjust so all sides are even. Will let you know how it works out.

The quilt on the machine now is being done with metallic gold thread and we have been having some thread breakage. Will have to adjust the tension I would think til it is right. Someone had said to skip some of the escapements in the top threading.

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  • 1 year later...

Thank you for this, as my first quilt came off my machine last night, now would seem to be a good time to check. As it is a brand new machine I had not thought it necessary but I had to do a lot of rolling back and forth and noticed the leader sort of creaping to the left. This could be an axplanation.

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  • 4 months later...
  • 5 months later...

Yesterday afternoon, I finally decided to get around to squaring up all three of my leaders. They were a bit stretched after 4 years of use. I followed Tina's process above. It went fairly quickly.

I have zippers, so I zipped my take up leader to my liner leader so they were taught. I put black thread in my longarm and turned on my channel locks to mark new lines about 5 inches in from the (old) edge of my take up leader, and also 5 inches in from the (old) edge of my liner (backer) leader. Before cutting, I made sure I marked new center lines on both leaders before I cut the new edges. After I stitched with black thread, I cut on the lines with scissors, folded the raw edges under and pinned my zippers on to the new folded edge of the take up roller and liner roller.

Then I zipped these two leaders together to keep them taught while I had the pins holding the zippers down, and while they were both pinned and zipped together, and used my longarm (used monofilament thread) to VERY CAREFULLY and SLOWLY stitch down the zippers onto the new folded edges of these two leaders.

I repeated these same steps for the top leader (pinned and zipped to the take up leader).

If you don't have zippers, you just omit the zipping together part. If you don't have zippers, just pin the two leaders together. Will work fine. Just make sure you mark centers on all of the leaders so they match.

Now I have nice straight edges that are pretty and clean (no more old blood stains from finger pricks that happend years ago). :) The entire process took a little while but worked well. I'm happy.

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I am trying to install new leaders. I purchased my machine second hand and the ones on there are yucky. I know this is going to sound ridiculous but what is the best way to mark the centers? Before I load the new ones on or after.

I am a newbie to long arming so any help is greatly appreciated.

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  • 9 months later...


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