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Thread: need opinion on longarm leaders and loading the quilt

  1. #1
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I just got my longarm last month. I purchased plain canvas leaders for it. I hate pinning to those leaders - too many pin pricks, and I know my back will eventually complain. I know that there are other possibilities, two being velcro and zippers. There are also multiple ways of loading the quilt - floating the top, floating the batting, etc.

    We have some very talented longarmers on this board. I would be very interested in hearing whether you use velcro or zippers, and why, what type of leader material you recommend (weight of canvas?) and how you choose to load your quilt. If you have pictures of your setup that would be great!

  2. #2
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    i'm not a talented quilter, but this is what i do:

    i use heavyweight striped ticking, like what they sell at http://www.baysidequilting.com
    i attach it to the poles with velcro. i leave them at about 18" at the top and 12" at the bottom. the 18" at the top lets me pin without bending too much. you can adjust this length so that you can pull it towards you as much as you need to. the 12" at my body lets me do the same. i priced out the zippers at bayside, which has good prices and i nearly fainted. maybe you can find a better price somewhere. once or twice, when i had enough extra backing at the top edge, i basted the top edge right to the leader with the machine. that edge must be very straight to do that. so ...

    i pin the top edge of the backing to the leader, carefully roll it all up, smoothing it out as i go, until it reaches the place to attach the other end to the other leader. here also, if it's very straight, you can sew right across with basting stitches, if you have enough extra fabric. roll backwards, back to the top.

    now, i attach the batting at the top edge only. i used to roll it, but it's much easier to float it. if it starts stretching or getting wonky, you can adjust it if it's floating. this i always machine baste. lastly, when i lay on the top, i pin very carefully within the 1/4" allowance. when i try to machine baste, i can't keep it outside the imaginary line. i roll my tops, not float them. i like to keep them evenly firm because the batting is floating.

    if the pinning is hard on your back, make the leaders long enough to work with them while you sit. i've also used those tack guns and they work okay. i wouldn't buy them for this purpose, but i had one.

    one problem i do have is that my fame is 120" and the quilts are over 100" on the frame, when you add the extra inches on the sides. that means that the machine is always lifting part of the leader. so it's hard to get a straight line when pinning. i should have used longer poles, maybe 140". then i could slide the machine all the way over to one end.

    my leaders are marked with stripes, making it easier to see what i'm pinning or sewing. i also mark the centers, then mark the centers on the quilts.

    i hope this helps.

  3. #3
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Oh BFW, you are a talented quilter. Don't protest.

    I think the idea of striped ticking is good. I already have plain canvas taped to the poles, but if I add velcro or zipper extensions I might be able to use the stripes on that.

    I think the zippers are about $14 each at The Quilting Connection http://www.longarmconnection.com/Our_Products.html

  4. #4
    Senior Member hokieappmom's Avatar
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    I'm anxious to hear more about this. I just got a quilting frame not long ago and longarm, and have only quilted one quilt on it. I don't think I had my sandwich loaded right, but it quilted ok. I guess this is stupid on my part, but BFW do you take the leader off the pole to sew material to it, and then re-attach the leader to the pole? I'd be afraid my velcro wouldn't hold up doing that much.

  5. #5
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunster
    Oh BFW, you are a talented quilter. Don't protest.

    I think the idea of striped ticking is good. I already have plain canvas taped to the poles, but if I add velcro or zipper extensions I might be able to use the stripes on that.

    I think the zippers are about $14 each at The Quilting Connection http://www.longarmconnection.com/Our_Products.html
    that's a very good price. the method i've seen of attaching the zipper to the leader is to sew and the backing to the zipper is to baste, so pinning is interesting.


    sharon shaumbers (sp?) has an excellent tutorial on youtube. she uses velcro.

    i'm a lazy quilter, so i tend to do whatever prep is the easiest at that very minute. usually, that's pinning. btw, i use straight pins. i can get them closer and they're less lumpy. and it goes faster.


    EDiTED TO ADD: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqgWWncRuM8


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8BY-...eature=related

    these are the ss ones.

  6. #6
    Junior Member Polly C's Avatar
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    I have a mid-arm set up and put zippers on my leaders myself to make it easier to load quilts (it did!!) I got my zippers at www.zipperstop.com. You can get any length & up to 170 inches is $12.95. Just a tip... use different color zipper or put on with different color thread for each leader... I didn't & wish I had.

  7. #7
    Super Member DA Mayer's Avatar
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    I purchased the zippers at the AQS in Des Moines IA and I bought an extra set. I really liked them even though I only used them twice. I think it is worth the money not to have to pin.

  8. #8
    Senior Member hokieappmom's Avatar
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    I've never heard of attaching zippers to the leaders. I need to check this out a little more. Thanks for all the info.

  9. #9
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    there's a show coming up soon in new jersey. i'll see if i can find someone demonstrating the zippers. i have a few more questions, myself. especially regarding size. shaumbers makes up her leaders with velcro in several sizes. if you have to do that with zippers, it ends up being pricey. i can talk to the manufacturer of my machine.

  10. #10

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    :wink: I purchased the zippers for one of my longarms & paid a fortune for them because I bought ones already attached to the leaders. I figured that they would be done correctly. Boy, was I wrong! They were sewn on crooked & I had to remove them. I have learned to pin fast & without getting stuck - for the most part. I use the long, flat flower pins - throwing out the ones that pop instead of sliding through my canvas. Good luck!

  11. #11
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    that's what i've been doing - pinning pretty fast. i use the long pins with the glass round head. close together for even tension.

  12. #12
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I think I'm leaning more toward Velcro than zippers. It seems to me like it would be less bulky, would be easier to position (since you can detach and move it just a little to one side if you need to) and it would be less expensive, at least I think it would be. You could easily have several different sizes if you want to.

    One of the advantages of either Velcro or zippers with multiple sets of the add-on leaders is that you can easily take a quilt off the rack, put up another, and then re-load the original quilt later. If you're quilting for others, that would be a definite advantage, but I think it would be nice even if you're only quilting for yourself.

    Right now I have a big quilt all loaded, haven't started quilting yet, and I think I would like to load a practice piece to try out some different techniques before I start on the real quilt. If I do that in my present set-up, I'll have to completely unpin the big quilt, and then pin again when I re-load it. So... will probably forego the practice and maybe be sorry in the long run.

  13. #13
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    that's the best reason i've heard so far for either velcro or zippers. i have to rethink this.

  14. #14

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    Remember, the velcro catches the lint easily & then, can slip. I first try my design out on paper many times & then on a small sample to the left of the quilt to adjust the tension. If I'm not comfortable with the design after practicing on the paper, then I load a sampler & practice - practice - practice. Good luck & happy quilting! :wink:

  15. #15
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    I know that this will sound a little silly..but i think i have seen velcro cleaners,somewhere..

  16. #16
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    found them,hook and loop cleaners
    http://stores.healthyasahorse.net/Detail.bok?no=210

  17. #17
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    i pm'd jackie and she told me that she's using pins at the moment.

  18. #18
    Super Member MaryStoaks's Avatar
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    My leaders are velcroed to the poles, made of striped ticking and have a canvas leader atached to them (picture below). I pin the backing to the canvas part, this makes it easy to remove/replace the top if needed. The center is marked on both leaders. I roll the backing and float both the batting and top. It makes for lots less pinning/rolling and is easy to keep everything straight and centered with each advance. My setup is a Tin Lizzie.
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  19. #19
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    when you pin the backing to the canvas, do you first remove the canvas? and then replace it onto the leader? or do you pin while the canvas is on the leader?

    i don't take one quilt off to work on another. i work on one until i finish and then remove it. do you think there's a reason for me to need to have an additional canvas? i have the velcro and leader that the lizzie came with and just pin now.

    since you float the batting and the top, do you have the velcro and canvas on the belly bar as well? i don't float the top. i tried it one time and it got away from me. i never figured out what happened.

    also, how wide/long are your leaders? my poles are 120" and if i push the trolley all the way to one end of the frame, it still sits under one end of the leader and prevents it from lying straight when i'm setting up.

  20. #20
    Super Member MaryStoaks's Avatar
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    I don't remove the canvas to pin, it is just easier for me to pin on the frame. My belly bar has both leaders too. I have (rarely) taken a quilt off to frog when there was a lot to do. I could pin to the canvas off the frame. I find that with the heavy canvas I don't have to pin as closely to make it secure. My Canvas leaders are 8 feet long, the striped ticking part is the full 10 feet
    of the frame. This leaves me room (1foot) on each side to change the bobbin/clean etc. I haven't ever had trouble with this aproach. When floating I adjust the batting and top with each turning of the takeup bar. I sew down the side (whichever is closest) and quilt to the other side , then sew down the far side to secure it when I get there. I use side clamps on the backing when I remember to. I hope this makes sense.

  21. #21
    Super Member MaryStoaks's Avatar
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    Here's a picture of end of my leaders
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  22. #22
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    i'm laughing, but, yes. it makes sense. i pin on the sides, not sew. i can't manage to keep those stitches within 1/4", so the heck with that. i don't know - everyone i talk to does it a different way, it seems. i know someone who takes off the leader and bastes the backing for totally even tension. to me, that seems over the top. i got this to make my life easier, not harder.

    i do clamp, but i do it the sharon shaumber way. she pins a strip of fabric to the sides. the strip has a tunnel through which a tube is inserted. the clamps clamp around the tube, giving even tension. i saw that on youtube. since i leave my backing extra wide, i just fold over a metal rod and clamp that. but it makes a big difference.. did that make any sense?

    i'll have to try again to float the top. if i take my time and pin the sides more often, maybe it will work this time.

  23. #23
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    what's the biggest size quilt you make? mine are between 92" and 98". the best size is 96". i make mine for use and we all have queens. i hang mine for a while to look at it and enjoy it and then it comes down for use by someone. sooner or later another one goes up. also, since this is purely a hobby and i do other things, i'm in no hurry, they get done when they get done. in between, i do other things(my dd is waiting for me to reupholster her chair, my dh and i travel, etc.)

  24. #24
    Super Member pittsburgpam's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tips. I've seen the Sharon Schamber videos on racking a quilt and I like how she has velcro on the pinning edge of the leader, and the has a small leader with velcro on one edge that she sews the backing to the other edge of.

    I have the Grace Start Right leaders that have measuring lines all over them and they velcro to the poles. I lined up one of the marks on the center mark on the pole and I mark the backing and top centers and line them up to the leader lines. I just pinned my backing to them and floated the batting. I tried floating and basting the top but I didn't like how it came out so I will pin them.

    Someday I'll get around to making the other leader parts as Sharon shows, especially the side leaders.

  25. #25
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    i find the pinning a pain, but not enough of one to change the method. adding more of a leader doesn't negate the use of pinning. so unless i take one off to put another one on, it doesn't matter to me. i don't do that. it's just always going to be a pain in the neck.

    i hope you're all plugged into the yahoo! group for tin lizzy users. even if you just lurk, you should definitely go there. you can learn a lot from other people. i would give you the link, but that would link you back to my own membership, not yours. find in online as yahoo! groups
    joining or creating

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