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need opinion on longarm leaders and loading the quilt

need opinion on longarm leaders and loading the quilt

Old 01-26-2010, 01:20 PM
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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!
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Old 01-26-2010, 10:04 PM
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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.
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Old 01-28-2010, 09:32 AM
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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
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Old 01-28-2010, 09:39 AM
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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.
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Old 01-28-2010, 10:17 AM
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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.
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Old 01-28-2010, 10:45 AM
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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.
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Old 01-28-2010, 11:31 AM
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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.
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Old 01-28-2010, 11:37 AM
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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.
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Old 01-28-2010, 11:49 AM
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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.
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Old 01-28-2010, 12:36 PM
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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!
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