Patchwork quilt on a longarm quilting machine.

Longarming Prep Checklist

Preparing your quilt for longarm quilting can help me do the best job possible on your quilt. Here’s a checklist of things I ask my customers to do to prepare their quilts. 

Backing Size

Your backing should be at least 8 inches wider and 10 inches longer than your quilt top. This allows me to have enough fabric all the way around the quilt to load it property on the frame. Otherwise, I may not be able to add it to the frame and quilt it. 

To figure my backing fabric size, I use these simple formulas:

  • Quilt Top Width + 8 inches = ______________ for Quilt Backing Width
  • Quilt Length + 10 inches = _____________ for Quilt Backing Length


I’m happy to work with you on your batting of choice. If you bring your own batting, please make sure it’s a minimum of 4” longer than your quilt top all the way around. This helps with shrinkage as the quilt is quilted on the longarm.

To figure my batting size, I use these simple formulas:

  • Quilt Top Width + 8 inches = ______________ for Batting Width
  • Quilt Length + 8 inches = _______________for Batting Length

I also carry products from Winline Batting available for purchase including a nice 80/20 batting and 2 thicknesses of bamboo batting.  


One of the best ways to ensure a good outcome with longarm quilting is pressing your quilt top and backing fabrics beforehand. This especially applies to quilt top seams. This helps the quilt top lay flat on the longarm and reduces the risk of puckers and tucks.


For backing fabric, if you can press out the folds from the fabric being on the bolt, that helps. It doesn’t affect the longarm process, but those folds will be in the fabric until the finished quilt is washed. For stubborn folds, I use Downey Wrinkle Release, which helps greatly.


I do press quilt tops and backings, too, if they have been stored for a while here before they are quilted.


Backing Seams

Where you place your backing seams can make a difference. My longarm does better with horizontal seams due to the speed of the machine as it goes across the quilt top quickly. Vertical seams or pieced backings are fine, too. Sometimes vertical seams can create more ease, or extra fabric in the backing seam. One way to reduce this is to pin your backing fabric and sew it slowly. Another way to reduce ease is to use a walking foot for backing fabric seams.

Keep in mind anytime you add a seam, you potentially create ease in your backing. Ease is where the fabric doesn’t lay flat and there’s a ripple or extra fabric. Extra ease on both the quilt top and backing increases the chances of puckers and tucks on the backing. There are ways to quilt places with ease/extra fabric, but it can be tricky to finish with a good outcome and again my goal is to do the best job I can on your quilt. 

Wide Back Fabric and Piecing Large Quilt Backs

The larger the quilt, the trickier it can be to piece the backing. This is especially true for king size quilts. Again, you are working with more fabric and an opportunity to add more ease with pieced seams. A great solution is to consider a wide back fabric which eliminates potential ease and saves time and money. They are often an economical solution for a backing fabric, especially if you can buy them on sale.

 If using a wide back is not an option, my next recommendation would be to sew the backing fabric with horizontal seams, again to reduce ease and work with the direction of the longarm quilting machine. If that’s not an option, again, consider the earlier recommendations of either using pins while sewing the backing or using a walking foot.

Minky and Plush Fabric Backings


I've quilts a lot of quilts with a Minky fabric back and personally love adding this cozy fabrics to my quilts! If you are thinking of using a Minky or Plush fabric backing, the key is to look for fabric that does not stretch. Some of those synthetic, plush fabrics have a lot of stretch in them that can be problematic when quilting. If the fabrics stretch, they will stretch while the quilter is running and can create rolls, tucks, and puckers on the back.

 The stretch in these fabrics can also cause your quilt to shrink. For example, I made a quilt with a plushie fabric that I loved the texture of but didn’t realize it had a 4-way stretch. When I took the quilt off the frame, the quilt shrunk up like and accordion. Fortunately, it was one of my own quilts and the recipient loved how cozy it looked even though that was not my intended outcome.

If you have any questions about what types of Minky or Plush fabrics to use, I’m happy to visit with you. I also frequently carry some Minky fabric available for purchase.

I hope this info has been helpful as you prepare your quilt back. Again, these are things that I’ve found work best with my longarm quilting machine to help me do the best job I can on your quilt. Please reach out with any questions. I’m happy to visit more.

Thank you!

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