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Thread: Floating the top?

  1. #1
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    Floating the top?

    A friend has given me a quilt to quilt. I have a long-arm machine. My question is...the top and back are about the same size, both are pieced with different block sizes and fabrics. The back is about an inch wider than the top. I've added muslin fabric to the top and bottom of the back of the quilt so I can attach it to my leaders.

    Should I float the top so I can adjust as I go, or do I attach it to the roller? I've floated the top before on quilts, but I've always had a generous backing fabric and wiggle room. I just don't know what the best way to do this. I know that sometimes, if the tension is different for the top and back, you can end up with more or less top or bottom when you're done...but if I attach it to the rollers, I know I will stay straight and square.

    Any thoughts?

    I've also seen some beautiful free-form feathering that I'd like to try, but I'm wondering if, because the back and top are both pieced, different fabrics and blocks, if just an over-all meandering is better, nice, nondescript, blendy...

    Sometimes I know exactly what to do, sometimes I agonize forever...waiting for the quilt to speak to me, but this one is keeping quiet.

    Barbara

  2. #2
    Super Member DebraK's Avatar
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    I think you are in for some aggravation on this one.
    I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health - Voltaire

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    Oh dear...I hope not too much. I'll have to let you know

  4. #4
    Super Member DebraK's Avatar
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    I'm sorry. I shouldn't have sounded so discouraging. I just recently did a quilt with a narrow backing, and it was no fun for me. I got it done, but I wrestled with it, and yes, I floated the top. Good luck! You are probably a more accomplished quilter than I am.
    Last edited by DebraK; 07-25-2012 at 10:08 AM.
    I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health - Voltaire

  5. #5
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    I have only floated the top a couple of times and everytime I came out a little crooked. So I mainly now just attach everything singly to the leaders. It works best for me.

  6. #6
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    My sister gave me a quilt with a backing that was too small also. I did the same as you, adding muslin to the top and bottom. Then I hemmed 2 pieces of muslin, about 18" long and 12" wide. As I advanced the quilt, I pinned these 'side leaders' to the edges of the backing. I matched the edge of the muslin piece to the edge of the backing, pinned about 1/2 inch from the edge, then flipped the muslin over and attached the clamps to the muslin. After I quilted that section, I unpinned the side pieces advanced the quilt and pinned the next section, It took some extra time to do this, but wasn't horribly bad. Used lots of pins to make sure that I had even tension. I also floated the top. I just did an overall meander and was careful at the edges.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
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  7. #7
    Super Member Gramie bj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaperPrincess View Post
    My sister gave me a quilt with a backing that was too small also. I did the same as you, adding muslin to the top and bottom. Then I hemmed 2 pieces of muslin, about 18" long and 12" wide. As I advanced the quilt, I pinned these 'side leaders' to the edges of the backing. I matched the edge of the muslin piece to the edge of the backing, pinned about 1/2 inch from the edge, then flipped the muslin over and attached the clamps to the muslin. After I quilted that section, I unpinned the side pieces advanced the quilt and pinned the next section, It took some extra time to do this, but wasn't horribly bad. Used lots of pins to make sure that I had even tension. I also floated the top. I just did an overall meander and was careful at the edges.
    I like your system! Going to try it on the next one! Thanks!

  8. #8
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    Yes, great ideas. So far, it's going well...I'm just floating the top and adjusting as I go, keeping the stitching lines of the blocks parallel and easing in any fullness of the border, gently, as I go, slowly.

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    Sounds like this is a work in progress now

    Would it have been possible/feasible to have also sewn long strips of muslin to the sides of the backing also to get it to be more manageable?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bearisgray View Post
    Sounds like this is a work in progress now

    Would it have been possible/feasible to have also sewn long strips of muslin to the sides of the backing also to get it to be more manageable?
    I have a little wiggle room with the sides...about an inch on each side, so I wasn't too worried about the sides, just the top and bottom so I had something to pin to my leaders. I have about an inch on each side and I'm keeping that uniform as I move my way down the quilt...which I really should get to. My girls and I had breakfast out on the deck this morning in the gazebo...what a great morning here in MN. Finally cool enough to enjoy the morning...

  11. #11
    Senior Member Toni C's Avatar
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    I always float my top. Though I have to admit I like more room on bottom. It should be great if you are going slow like you said.

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    Super Member MaryAnnMc's Avatar
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    Not being a LAQ, I had no idea how much trouble a small backing could cause. I'll be sure all my backs are big enough. Thanks for the heads up.
    aka Chicken McLittle

    If it's true we learn from our mistakes, I'm going to be a genius!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaryAnnMc View Post
    Not being a LAQ, I had no idea how much trouble a small backing could cause. I'll be sure all my backs are big enough. Thanks for the heads up.
    Oh yes. We need something to grab on to. At least 4 inches, all around, is recommended. Also, sometimes there's more give in the top or the backing fabric. I would like to have more backing because I like to have room to practice, adjust tension, before I start on the quilt.

    When I make one for myself, I've started doing a "mini-quilt" on the side with the fabrics used in the quilt top. When I'm done quilting, I throw that one in the wash and dry it to see how it looks when it's all done. For the last one, I snipped out a rectangle, about 6x3, folded it in half and stitched in care instructions and included it with the quilt. I like to see how the fabrics react. I always pre-wash my fabrics too. I've seen, from others, what can happen when fabrics bleed onto their partners or from the front to the back. Especially batiks. I know they are lovely, but pre-wash them. The colors bleed when washed. (getting off soap box...laundry soap...haha)

  14. #14
    Super Member Latrinka's Avatar
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    Wishing you good luck on that one!
    If a woman's work is never done....why start?

  15. #15
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    I too am a longarmer-have been for a very long time, anyway......I would not attempt to work on a quilt that only has an inch or two as the frame around the top. I have rec'd a very few that way, and I always call the client, giving them the option of me adding something if I have it, or they bring me more or another back.......Reason being: the pieced top has more stretchability than the back, even if it is pieced, it is not as intense as the top, so the "sucking in" of the stitching is tighter on that back than on the front,and the more intense the quilting is the more the sucking in is....and could cause a shortage at the end or sides........ I will only work on a quilt if that frame is 3 or more inches all the way around..........a safety feature for me

  16. #16
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    I just finished one also, no fun. I did flot the top. good luck.

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