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Ready, Set, Quilt!

What does it take to get the layers of a quilt onto a long-arm machine? Machine-quilter Nancy Sharr shows us how it’s done on a Handi Quilter.

Step 1

Match center marks of backing and front leader (fabric strip attached to the front pole of the machine).

See a video of how to load a long-arm machine here.

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Step 2

Pin backing, wrong side up, to leader with corsage pins.

See a video of how to load a long-arm machine here.

Step 3

Place pins close together, leaving less than 1⁄4" gaps, to avoid areas with uneven tension.

See a video of how to load a long-arm machine here.

Step 4

Roll up backing onto front pole, keeping it straight, smooth, and centered. Continue until bulk of backing is rolled, leaving enough slack to pin opposite edge.

See a video of how to load a long-arm machine here.

Step 5

Matching center marks in the same manner, pin opposite edge of backing to back leader. (Our backing is made from two contrasting batiks.)

See a video of how to load a long-arm machine here.

Step 6

Roll remaining backing onto front roll.

See a video of how to load a long-arm machine here.

Step 6 Continued

NOTE: The order of loading the backing and quilt top--and which roller/leader you put them on--varies depending on the long-arm machine manufacturer.

See a video of how to load a long-arm machine here.

Step 7

Lay quilt top, right side up, on quilting frame. (We loaded our quilt top sideways so we could stitch the vertical sashing strips in one continuous design.)

See a video of how to load a long-arm machine here.

Step 8

Matching center marks, pin front edge of quilt top to the remaining leader.

See a video of how to load a long-arm machine here.

Step 9

Roll up quilt top, keeping it centered and smooth. If you're using a packaged batting, prepare it for the next step by smoothing it out over the quilting frame and letting it sit overnight.

See a video of how to load a long-arm machine here.

Step 10

Tuck batting between the rollers and shift it to the top of the backing. Unroll quilt top and bring it up to the top of the batting/backing sandwich.

See a video of how to load a long-arm machine here.

Step 11

Look at the upper edge of the quilt from the side of the machine, making sure the edge of the quilt top is straight. Also look at the surface of the quilt top to make sure it’s flat. Smooth out small bumps or tucks in the batting with your fingers.

See a video of how to load a long-arm machine here.

Step 12

Thread the machine. To save time, Nancy cuts the old thread at the back of the machine, ties on the new thread, and pulls it through to the needle eye.

See a video of how to load a long-arm machine here.

Step 13

Before quilting the layers, follow the manufacturer’s manual for where and how often to oil the machine.

See a video of how to load a long-arm machine here.

Machine-Quilting

See machine-quilting in action! Watch Nancy Sharr use rulers and stitch allover, edge-to-edge designs.

See a video of how to load a long-arm machine here.

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