Preparation and Finishing

Piecing a quilt top is just one step toward a finished quilt. The quilt also includes batting, backing, thread, and binding, as well as choosing a quilting service and selecting a quilting design.

Preparing Your Quilt for Machine Quilting

Preparation of your quilt starts during piecing:

  • Any shape or size quilt can be machine quilted.
  • Careful measurement during piecing and attention to seam ironing will prevent puffiness and lumpiness in the quilt top. Quilting can compensate for some irregularities in the top, but cannot hide poor workmanship.
  • Best results for square or rectangular designs can be achieved if the borders have been measured prior to application, to prevent "ruffling" at the edges, and the corners are 90 degree angles without excess fabric "points."

Selecting the other parts of your quilt:

  • All backing material you supply must be at least four inches larger than the pieced top on all sides to allow for squaring prior to quilting.
  • Our basic quilting and basting prices now include Heirloom 80/20 cotton/polyester blend batting. We also stock high-quality black polyester, natural and white 100% cotton, and wool batting, for slightly more. All our batting is bulk, rolled, in widths varying from 90 inches to 124 inches.. If you choose to supply your own batting, purchase a quality cotton, blended cotton/polyester, needle-punched polyester, or wool batting at a fabric store that specializes in quilting supplies. Light-weight, low-cost polyester batting (such as Mountain Mist) is not acceptable for machine quilting. A discount will be applied for customer-supplied batting, according to size and subject to minimum fees. Check our batting specifications for size availability. You can use our cost calculator to determine the cost of batting upgrades and any discounts for customer-supplied batting.
  • Do not baste any layers together prior to quilting. Backing, batting, and pieced or appliqued top must be separate.
  • When you are choosing quilting thread colors, the best result is using a thread color that blends with your quilt top colors, though contrasting threads are sometimes appropriate for children's quilts. For best results on the top of your quilt, the bobbin thread should be the same or similar color as the top thread.
  • Black batting is available for use with dark quilts. This prevents any shadowing on the front of the quilt and noticeable "bearding" on dark quilt backing. (Bearding is caused by the small amount of batting material that the needle pushes through the quilt sandwich.)
  • It is helpful, but not absolutely necessary, for you to consider quilting patterns for your quilt top prior to scheduling machine quilting. We have samples to show you and will make suggestions and recommendations as appropriate. Our quilt gallery has photos showing quilting treatments we have used.

Finishing Your Quilt

Your quilt will be returned to you with all excess backing and batting trimmed. The next step is binding the edges of the quilt. This can be a very satisfying source of quality time with your cat (as above), as well as bringing closure to the creative process.

However, if the hand sewing required for binding and finishing the quilt is physically challenging or you don't have the time or patience for it, binding services are commercially available. Realizations will bind your quilt for an additional $35 or $0.10 per lineal inch, whichever is greater, on request.

If you don't know how to put on the binding, Heddi Craft's Quilting with Children web site has excellent directions online.

Document your quilt. A printed fabric label will be supplied with each quilt. Use a permanent marker to complete the label, then hand-sew it to the back in a lower corner.

Quilt care: Quilts made with all-cotton quality quilting fabric, cotton or polyester batting, and cotton quilting thread are machine-washable. Quilts made with wool piecing, backing, or batting are hand-washable: use a quilting or wool soap and follow the manufacturer's directions. Washing not only keeps the quilt clean, but improves the loft and warmth as well as accenting the quilting. Use a high-capacity machine on gentle cycle, cold water, and quilting soap, which is available in quilt shops and is milder than ordinary laundry detergent. If possible, lay flat to dry. If you intend to use your quilt for everyday bed covers, you should check your fabrics for color-fastness before you begin piecing. All fabrics will shrink slightly when washed, some more than others. If you want maximum dimensional stability, or if you are using a variety of fabrics, wash and dry your fabric before cutting.


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