The National Quilts of Valor LongArmy is over 200 Volunteers strong comprised. These are the Volunteers that quilt for National requests (we have another 290 that quilt specifically for their groups!). These Volunteers do an amazing job of longarming the many national requests that come in each day. Our LongArmy Coordinator recently sent a survey to them asking what made their job easier. Overwhelmingly the longarmers felt that the toppers did an excellent job of preparing their tops for longarming! A special thank you to all the LongArmy Volunteers. Your suggestions were so appreciated, as is your talent and time you donate to support the Mission!
Here are some of the key things LongArmy Volunteers appreciate when you submit your tops and why they’re important:
- Be sure your quilt top lays flat. Cut borders on the lengthwise grain, so they don’t stretch and aren’t “friendly” and wavy. It’s very hard to work in the extra fullness as the top is being quilted.
- When applying borders, follow best practice: measure, cut, pin and stitch one side at a time. Sometimes, no amount of starch, water or heat can shrink those borders so the edges do not wave.
- Border seams: Make sure any seams on the border are secure. If your design has a pieced border or the design goes to the edge, take the time to sew a 1/8-inch line of stitching around the border. It is difficult to sew a quilt back together that comes apart after it is loaded onto the frame.
- Get rid of all the strings sticking through the seam allowances to the top.
- Remove stray threads from both the front and the back of the top. Stray threads on the front will get caught up in the stitching, and stray threads on the back might show through. Remember, dark threads show through light fabrics.
- Check to make sure all seams are secure. If there is a gap from a loose seam and it is not detected when the quilt is loaded, the quilting foot is likely to get caught in it. The result will probably be jammed, bunched stitches and could also result in a tear in the fabric.
- Square up the backing.
- Backing needs to be eight inches wider and eight inches longer than the top. That allows for room to load the backing onto the frame. More than eight inches creates extra work for the longarmer.
- If the baking is pieced, piece it across the width of the quilt, rather than along the length. Backs that are pieced perpendicular to the frame’s rollers do not load well, due to of the buildup of the seams.
- If using directional backing, please let the longarmer know which direction you want the backing to face. Labeling ‘top’ for quilt top and backing would be helpful. If the back must be pieced, use wide seams and trim selvages if used.
- Doing a pressing of the quilt top before sending it to the longarmer. This allows for a final inspection to look for any open areas in seam allowances, spots that need to be removed, or puckered seams. It is not always possible for the quilting to remove or hide puckers.
- Make sure seams are pressed flat and all the way to the seam (no pleats). Poorly pressed seams (and very thick seams) cause the longarm stitches to skip.
- Remember: “flat and smooth” loads and quilts better.
- LongArmy members love feedback! They like to see pictures of the quilts being awarded and enjoy knowing that the topper appreciated their quilting.