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Thread: Floating quilt top Pros and Cons

  1. #1
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    Floating quilt top Pros and Cons

    I am about to quilt a graduation present for a friend. I am not an experienced quilter so I am nervous about this project. I pieced the top with no problems. I have floated all my tops up to this point but I want to be sure this stays straight. It has photos in the center of stars that are 4” square that will only be outlined. What do you more experienced quilters do with your quilts? Any suggestions for me before I start? This will also be my first custom design. I have always used pantos before this but not possible on this one. This is a favor for my brother or I would never have agreed to it. LOL. Thanks for any help or advice.

  2. #2
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    For me, it's easier to keep the sides of the quilt from migrating towards the center if the quilt top is attached to leaders top and bottom. Even then I need to push it outward now and then with my palms on it where it's against the front bar to keep the edges in line with my longarm centering tape marker.

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    When I float a quilt top it is attached at the bottom leader then sewn to a line sewn across the top backing and batting and then all basted on each side as I roll down the quilt. I don't think I've ever seen a quilt not be straight with this method.
    Sally

  4. #4
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    For those who may be wondering, floating the quilt is when the bottom of the quilt top is not attached to the leader. I started out not floating my quilts, then floated them for a long time. Recently I decided to stop floating, and the last quilt I did that way, attaching the bottom to the leader, seemed to be take less work. When you float the quilt, you have to check much more often that the quilt is staying square. Most of the longarm teachers I've taken classes from have recommended not floating the quilt.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the explanation dunster. I had no idea what "floating a quilt" meant.

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    Super Member quiltingshorttimer's Avatar
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    I almost always float the top--sew it down at the top along a line stitching down the batting using my channel locks (so it's straight), then pin the edge to that line. One key to keeping it straight is to make sure not to tug too tight on the side clamps--as a matter of fact, I have my clamps attached to a school ruler that is inserted into a sleeve of canvas about 12-14" square--then I pin the canvas edge to the back/bat. That prevents the uneven tug on the sides plus keeps my ruler table from hanging up on the edges, too. As I roll the quilt I line up the sides using either a long tap measure with markers that velcros on the sides, or even just wood yardstick tucked into the quilt/take up roll and laid along the edge of the quilt. Where the quilt & bat lay over the belly bar, (I float the backing too) I use long magnets to keep it lined up that way. I have found that I'm able to keep it square this way. When I get a super king I will attach the quilt to the bar leaders just cause so much fabric to wrestle.

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    I followed another QB members idea and put a bungie cord with paraclips on it along the front of my rails. I get the backing on and batting and have it adjusted on the tight side, then I lay the top down and get it relativiely straight along the top edge. I then use the chanel locks on my machine (if don't have the computer turned on, I use the plastic C clip to hold the carriage wheel in place) I roll the machine along and pin the top edge where it need to be to have the quilt straignt. Then I straighten down both sides and pin, and then move the clips on the cord to line up with vertical lines on the quilt - I have 6 clips so put one near each edge and the others where I can line up.

    Then I loosen the quilt 2-3 notches as my machine likes the top on the loose side.

    When I role, that front cord often is adequate to use to keep the front square, and I use the clips to keep the sides striaght. I always roll tight, get everything lined up and pinned on the sides, then loose up. Often I have to pull a bit on the upper sides as the quilting pulls everything in and I need to get it back in place if I'm using a computer design.

    Since I put on the marking cord, I no longer need to measure anything when I advance the quilt. Makes it a lot easier.
    My name is Cathy - and I'm addicted to old sewing machines and their attachments.

  8. #8
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    Thank you all for your helpful replies. I am going to try to attach the top this time. Hopefully I will be okay. I would like to see pictures of the bungee cord setup though. That might be something I could try in the future. My machine is just the HQ16 and no computer so I am limited in the size of designs I can do. Wish me luck. I will post a picture when I am done.

  9. #9
    Senior Member cindi's Avatar
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    I tried attaching both ends to the leaders when I first got my LA 10 years ago and didn’t like it. Felt I had no control. Have floated ever since. I, too use the shock cord lineup system, and have had no problem keeping my quilt absolutely straight.
    Name:  705DB3E2-E203-4269-BF72-EA4D8653A337.jpeg
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by cindi View Post
    I tried attaching both ends to the leaders when I first got my LA 10 years ago and didn’t like it. Felt I had no control. Have floated ever since. I, too use the shock cord lineup system, and have had no problem keeping my quilt absolutely straight.
    Name:  705DB3E2-E203-4269-BF72-EA4D8653A337.jpeg
Views: 951
Size:  1.85 MB
    Cindi, did you make this cord or where can it be purchased? I would like to try this. When I first got my machine “they” explained how to do this with the 120” measuring tape (velcroed on each end to machine frame). I never had any success with this.

    Thank you Macybay for the explanation and Cindi’s photo made it crystal clear.

  11. #11
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    here is mine


    I ordered mine from paracord planet and it came very quickly. I bought an assortment of clips so got several colors. I live rural and this was not something I could pick up locally.



    Because of how my frame is constucted, I was able to thread the cord between the side supports. Very easy to attach and take down if needed.



    I was using a long tape ruler before, but it was a lot more work and I had to write down what the measurement was, and sometimes I'd forget or measure wrong. This way once I set the marker, I can forget everything else.

    I had originally set up two cords with the second one at the back, but found the back one was more often in the way than helpful so I removed it.

    BTW - that pink thing you can see under the frame is a long frame my DH made that I made a "bag" for. It runs the length of the frame and it's where I tuck in the batting and top so I'm not stepping on it. I tired different clips to help hold the top out of the way, but never came up with anything I liked better. When I need to, I can easily flip the top out to check on the batting. My frame is designed to have the top mounted to the upper bar (the one that has nothing on it) and I had already gone to floating my tops so never installed the velcro to hold the leaders on that bar. I've always felt I needed to leave it there, but when I loosen the top for quilting, it really is serving no purpose . . . I may try taking it off as it sure would be easier to mount everything with it gone. I do have the holders so I can lift it out of the way for mounting the batting and top.
    Last edited by Macybaby; 05-07-2019 at 07:49 AM.
    My name is Cathy - and I'm addicted to old sewing machines and their attachments.

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    Thank you so much for all this information!! Ellen

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    Re “the pink thing” for your batting. I have 3 plastic tubs under my machine that I usually accordion fold my batting and quilt top on. Recently I started pinning the accordion fold on the top and batting. I like this a lot better. It is a bit more work but easier to handle.

  14. #14
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    When I first started longarming I attached my quilt tops bottom and top and soon decided to float my tops. I always float my tops now because I have more control with dealing with any issues that come up. I quilt for one friend that has never made a square quilt top and when I didn't float her tops I made myself crazy dealing with fullness and borders that were off. With floating I am able to maneuver each roll and adjust as needed. I baste the sides and if need be through the center of a pass. Everyone has to decide what is best for them as there are no set rules to go by.

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    I just got my 15" midarm this spring, so I am learning alot but at a slow pace. This is very helpful as my frame does not have a top take up bar. Macybaby what is that board on the end of your frame for? I am looking for a way to put lights on my frame without paying an additional $500. Thou not my question, thanks for the info I need all the help I can get!!!

  16. #16
    Senior Member cindi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ellen 1 View Post
    Cindi, did you make this cord or where can it be purchased? I would like to try this. When I first got my machine “they” explained how to do this with the 120” measuring tape (velcroed on each end to machine frame). I never had any success with this.

    Thank you Macybay for the explanation and Cindi’s photo made it crystal clear.
    I bought the cording at Home Depot, and the clips from Amazon for about $7/20 clips. Twenty clips is the perfect number. My cording doesn’t stretch. Some people like it to stretch, some don’t. It’s a personal preference.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by pewa88 View Post
    When I first started longarming I attached my quilt tops bottom and top and soon decided to float my tops. I always float my tops now because I have more control with dealing with any issues that come up. I quilt for one friend that has never made a square quilt top and when I didn't float her tops I made myself crazy dealing with fullness and borders that were off. With floating I am able to maneuver each roll and adjust as needed. I baste the sides and if need be through the center of a pass. Everyone has to decide what is best for them as there are no set rules to go by.
    Your friend is my friend! :-)

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by cindi View Post
    I bought the cording at Home Depot, and the clips from Amazon for about $7/20 clips. Twenty clips is the perfect number. My cording doesn’t stretch. Some people like it to stretch, some don’t. It’s a personal preference.

    Oh great. Thank you for these tips. My guess is, the less stretch the less chance to get “off kilter.” What is the weight/size of the cording?

  19. #19
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    mine is stretchy, and I stretched it a lot to get enough firmness to it. But I can still easily lift it up if needed to make it easier to get the batting underneath. It might move around a bit but so far has always gone back to where it was when I set the clips.
    My name is Cathy - and I'm addicted to old sewing machines and their attachments.

  20. #20
    Senior Member cindi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ellen 1 View Post
    Oh great. Thank you for these tips. My guess is, the less stretch the less chance to get “off kilter.” What is the weight/size of the cording?
    It is 1/8” cord.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by cindi View Post
    It is 1/8” cord.
    Thank you!

  22. #22
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    mine is 1/4" The part that matters is that you buy clips that will fit on the cord you are getting. Hard to fit a 1/4 cord into and 1/8 inch hole!
    My name is Cathy - and I'm addicted to old sewing machines and their attachments.

  23. #23
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    Using the cord as a reference is a great idea. Before I put the leader on my top pole I used painters tape on it to mark reference points but it wouldn’t be as much help for lining up across the quilt except to estimate how straight you are. I think I will try the cord on my next quilt.

    An update on this one, I am 2/3 done. My free motion quilting is quite awful. I am doing stitch in the ditch with rulers. First time I’ve done anything with rulers and first time stitch in the ditch on long arm. Thank goodness my piecing of this quilt went really well or I would just have to tell my brother to get someone else to make another one. LOL. But I am learning a lot.

    Thank you all again for all the helpful suggestions!

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