Making Your Quilt Longarm-Ready

Getting your quilt is longarm-ready isn’t complex. Don’t let this checklist scare you off – I’m providing it for people like me who LIKE to have a checklist. There’s a printable one-page checklist at the bottom of this post.

This list has items on it that I consider best practices. For example, stay-stitching around edges that have seams on them, such as in a borderless quilt. If you don’t stay-stitch, your quilt can still be longarmed. However, it is much more likely to pop a seam near the edge and need repaired. When in doubt, talk to your longarmer.

The Quilt Prep Checklist:

Top is Neat and Square:

  • Seams are pressed. Unpressed seams can cause a bulge in your quilt. Unsightly! How you press your seams (light, dark, nested, open) is up to you. Note that pressing to reduce bulk, especially at pinwheel and star centers, makes your quilt look nicer in the end.
  • Threads are clipped. I will attempt to clip any threads that look like they may show through a light fabric, but I make no guarantees that I will find them all. Before I load my own quilts on the frame, I put them upside down on a table and clip those wild threads.
  • Quilt has square corners. This is pretty self-explanatory. Try not to iron your quilt hard, especially near the corners. Press (move your iron straight down, not sideways) to keep a nice square corner for best results.
  • Stay-stitching. Sewing a “victory lap” around the outside of your quilt 1/8” from the edge will help secure pieced or bias edges.
  • Secure seams and appliqué – make sure your seams are secure (not popped open) and that any appliqué is secure at the edges. Having the longarm’s foot get caught it your quilt top is a Bad Thing.
  • Embellishments be gone! Please remove any embellishments, or don’t add them until after quilting. If this is impossible, we move from the realm of edge-to-edge into semi-custom or custom quilting.
  • Which way up? If your top is directional, mark the upper edge with a safety pin or a piece of painter’s tape.


  • Square and large enough! Make sure your backing has square corners and is at least 8” larger than your top in both width and height (4” each side).
  • If your backing is directional, mark the upper edge with a safety pin or painter’s tape.
  • Material Concerns. For best results, don’t use a digital print on your backing. If your backing is stiff or flannel, pre-wash it for best results.
  • Seems like a good idea: for best results, make all seams in your backing with 1/2” seams and press them open.


  • If you are providing your own batting, check with your longarmer to verify that your batting is suitable for longarming.
  • Do not piece your batting unless your longarmer is ok with it.

Don’t Baste! Your top, batting, and backing should be in three separate layers.

Shipping Your Quilt

  • Put your quilt inside something to protect from moisture during transit (a trash bag works well.)
  • Consider buying insurance for your quilt from your shipper.

Here is a printable version of the checklist. If you have any questions or comments on this post, please reach out via my contact form or add a comment below.

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