One of the problems that longarm quilters face is when a customer brings their own batting and backing. Customers may not understand why they need to provide so much more fabric for the backing and also for the batting – I will show you why. Personally I request a minimum of 8 inches more in length and width of the batting and 12 more inches or more of the backing. In other words, if the quilt is 72 inches x 80 inches, I will request that they provide batting that is at least 80 inches x 88 inches and backing that is at a minimum of 84 inches wide x 92 inches long. It would be nice to have more than this amount of the backing fabric, which may seem like a waste to the customer, but to the quilter, it prevents the machine base from bumping into the clamps used to hold your backing on and making ugly mistakes on your quilt top. I provide batting and backing for the customer, and it’s always better for me to do this so that I don’t have to worry about issues that may come up.
The reason we want you, the customer, to provide us with extra batting and backing is this.
You can’t really see all the roller bars, but that black pole that you see with my cheater clips is one of the rollers (those white clips on the black pole help me make sure I am rolling the quilt stop straight – they are lined up to the border seams). I have 3 roller bars on my machine’s table. You would think that they would roll all 3 layers (top, batting, and backing) at the same rate… but, they don’t. Those rollers seem to suck up the backing and the batting much more than they do the top.
Let me show you an example, using a magazine.
As you look at this rolled up magazine, you will see that the front of the magazine (the top layer) does not meet the back of the magazine (bottom layer on a quilting machine, which would be the backing). In fact, this letter size magazine has the top rolled up part extending about an inch beyond the bottom. In between the 2 are the pages (batting) of the magazine. If you can get that much difference on that small a piece, imagine what happens when you have a quilt top that is 72 inches x 80 inches. You need a lot more batting and backing than you do for the quilt top.
So, here is my dilemma. I picked up a charity quilt to work on that had the batting and backing included. I measured before I put it all on the machine and feared the worst because I didn’t think there was enough extra batting and backing. When you lay them all out on the table, they look fine, like you have plenty of batting and backing. I told myself I was just being paranoid and that, surely, I could do this. I’d just be careful.
Well, this is what happened.
As you can see, the batting came up too short. I folded the flowery, quilt top fabric back, so you can see that there is not enough batting for this quilt. I am VERY lucky on this one, because I thought the backing would be too short as well. I barely have enough backing – it’s the rose and blue plaid. If you come up short on the backing, you basically have to take the quilt off and sew extra fabric onto the back and then re-attach it to the table/frame, etc. I can’t tell you how relieved I am not to have to do that!!!
So, PLEEEAAASE, do your quilters a favor and make sure you have plenty of extra batting and backing! In the long run, it will be better for the quilt and your pocket book. Any extra work the quilter has to do will cost you money.