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Thread: What is floating on a long arm machine?

  1. #1
    Super Member sewbeadit's Avatar
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    What is floating on a long arm machine?

    I have heard of floating on a long arm machine but don't really know what it is. Is it something a newby can do? Why would you float? Thank you.
    Sewbeadit
    W. Washington

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    I want to know too!

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    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    when a quilt is loaded to be quilted with a long arm there are bars with leaders the pieces are attached to- and (generally) the batting is (floated) in between the top and backing---meaning it is not attached to the bars- it is left loose between the 2 layers- sometimes the top will be (floated) also---not attached to the rollers- just laid over the backing/batting.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  4. #4
    Super Member GEMRM's Avatar
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    Why would one do this? What are the reasons for loading the quilt like this? Our inquiring minds want to know! LOL

  5. #5
    Super Member alleyoop1's Avatar
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    When you load the backing and the quilt top to the quilt frame the batting does not have to be "attached" to a rail. It is normally stitched along the top edge to the backing and then the quilt top is stitched to the backing and batting. This holds that edge securely. The other end of the backing and the quilt top are securely attached to the take up rails. It is not necessary to have the batting attached to a take up rail, but most quilt frames do have a 4th rail for the batting if you choose to attach it and roll it. My frame does not have a leader cloth on the batting rail or the mechanism to tighten up the batting rail. Only the backing, top and then the part that is quilted can be rolled tightly. So I usually just leave the batting hanging loose. If you are interested in more info on this do a search for "quilt loading" and you will probably find many sites that show how to do it and perhaps even say why.

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    Sometimes quilters do not attach, but float the quilt top. I can be laid on top of the backing and batting which can also be floated. But something has to be pinned in place. So that would be the backing.

    If you pin your backing to the leaders (both ends) you will have that to support the other 2 layers.
    I layer the batting on top of the backing and use just a few pins to hold it in place until I get the quilt top in place.
    Actually, I will pin the quilt top to the other 2 layers, until I get the first row of quilting across the top.
    After that, both the batting and quilt top hang free.

    The reason I do this is to use my batting scraps. I insert one strip of batting across the length and smooth it out.
    Then I lay the quilt top on top of the 2 layers - and smooth it into place. After I have quilted the 3 layers for the first row, I renove the pins, but I use a few pins to show me where to stop the quilting ...then lift it up and insert another strip of batting. I save what is cut off the quilt, make sure it is cut straight and then butt the next piece up against the tail end. It is easier than sewing them together on another machine and putting them on vertically. Laying the strips across the width of the frame really works well.

    This is what I call floating the quilt top . I suspect some long arm quilters do the same thing, but may not use left-over strips of batting. I make a lot of charity quilts and this is my idea of being conservative

    I would like to hear how other quilters do this.
    June in Cincinnati

  7. #7
    Senior Member DebbyT's Avatar
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    My quilt frame is good for appx 90" before I am hitting the bungies on the side so when I have a wider quilt, I turn and 'float' the quilt to do the borders. I attatch the side edge to the top leader and float the rest of the already quilted quilt over the front rails. The weight of the quilt holds it tight. When necessary, I will attach the side bungies.

  8. #8
    Junior Member tupoms's Avatar
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    I prefer to float my quilt tops because I can see the backside of the quilt much more easily & I can see my bobbin area much better also.

  9. #9
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Sounds like a great new massage technique to me. Where do I sign up? (sorry, couldn't resist...teehee)
    The Earth without art is just "Eh".

  10. #10
    Super Member GwynR's Avatar
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    What a great idea June6995! Going to try that soon!

  11. #11
    Super Member soccertxi's Avatar
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    When I 1st started long arming, I attached the backing to the take up leader and the backing leader (it looks like a scroll when its loaded), then laid my batting on top and then laid the top on the batting. The top was pinned to the top leader across the bottom edge. Now I do the backing and batting the same, but I just lay the top over the batting w/o attaching it to a leader/roller. I have some clips, that look like bicycle clips, that hold the top in place. It clips over the belly bar (nothing attached to this...just lean up on it with...well..my BELLY! lolol. I find that if the top is not attached along the bottom, I am able to flip it up to check the smoothness of the batting, pick out loose threads I can see thru the top, and check on the backing better. I would post some pictures but I just dumped coffee on my camera and now the lens will not open...DRAT!
    Beth in AZ
    www.bzyqltr.blogspot.com
    Innova 22' with Lightning Stitch and Pantovision
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    'floating the quilt top' just means to not attach the top itself to the bar that normally holds it... a lot of quilters (like me) just prefer to have final control over the top placement... if we have to 'cheat' one of the lines straight (piecing error) or if we are doing trapunto and want to add extra batting in specific areas, or if we just want a bit more 'puff' to the top... the tension on the top is much less and so produces all these possibilities, as well as the 'getting to the batting to smooth out wrinkles, and 'picking threads' that were mentioned before. all good reasons to float the top and if you want to see someone demo it... sharon schamber on youtube, does a great 'loading, unloading, floating, rice bag, just plain general 'setting up' video...

  13. #13
    Senior Member almond's Avatar
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    Have you ever heard of Sharon Schamber? She has the best long arm quilting ideas. I like to watch her on You tube. Just go to youtube.com and search for Sharon Schamber and you will find several videos of hers. My favorite is how to make leader with velcro.

    I made the leaders she sugguested using velcro that attach to the leader you already have. You don't need to pin the back but sew it to the leaders. You would need to look at you tube to see exactly what I mean. There are several different videos to watch concerning leaders. Need to watch them all as each one adds something different.


    Also, she tells how to float the top by basting it to the on top of the batting & backing. I believe you will find that on the video on how to baste a quilt. I use this basting method and it works very well for me.

    Hope this webb site helps you, Sharon is a very good teacher of long arm quilting
    Mary

  14. #14
    Super Member sewbeadit's Avatar
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    Thank you for the information. This is what I had been wondering. I shall check out the youtube videos of Sharon S. Are there any do's or don'ts that can help us when we get started, or is it just this straightforward?
    Sewbeadit
    W. Washington

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    Senior Member katz_n_kwiltz's Avatar
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    long armer here, met another long armer, when she said she floats the top, i too
    was skeptical, BUT..its wonderful because you dont have to pin or roll it, it just floats,
    easier to make straight as well.
    newbies can do anything they set their minds to, and if you're not sure,always best to ask first.
    good luck!
    katz

  16. #16
    Senior Member almond's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sewbeadit View Post
    Thank you for the information. This is what I had been wondering. I shall check out the youtube videos of Sharon S. Are there any do's or don'ts that can help us when we get started, or is it just this straightforward?
    I had to watch it several times to pick up all the details, but Sharon is very good at explaining. Let me know what you think after you have watched her videos
    Mary

  17. #17
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    >> Actually, I will pin the quilt top to the other 2 layers, until I get the first row of quilting across the top.
    After that, both the batting and quilt top hang free.

    >>The reason I do this is to use my batting scraps. I insert one strip of batting across the length and smooth it out.
    Then I lay the quilt top on top of the 2 layers - and smooth it into place. After I have quilted the 3 layers for the first row, I remove the pins, but I use a few pins to show me where to stop the quilting ...then lift it up and insert another strip of batting.

    June, I love this idea. I generally don't care for floating the quilt top because the overall tension isn't as good and the quilt isn't as smooth as I like. I guess I could try again and use a few more pins. I tend to be resistant to using pins. Got that from my home ec teacher that taught us to "finger baste".

  18. #18
    Senior Member almond's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by june6995 View Post
    Sometimes quilters do not attach, but float the quilt top. I can be laid on top of the backing and batting which can also be floated. But something has to be pinned in place. So that would be the backing.

    If you pin your backing to the leaders (both ends) you will have that to support the other 2 layers.
    I layer the batting on top of the backing and use just a few pins to hold it in place until I get the quilt top in place.
    Actually, I will pin the quilt top to the other 2 layers, until I get the first row of quilting across the top.
    After that, both the batting and quilt top hang free.

    The reason I do this is to use my batting scraps. I insert one strip of batting across the length and smooth it out.
    Then I lay the quilt top on top of the 2 layers - and smooth it into place. After I have quilted the 3 layers for the first row, I renove the pins, but I use a few pins to show me where to stop the quilting ...then lift it up and insert another strip of batting. I save what is cut off the quilt, make sure it is cut straight and then butt the next piece up against the tail end. It is easier than sewing them together on another machine and putting them on vertically. Laying the strips across the width of the frame really works well.

    This is what I call floating the quilt top . I suspect some long arm quilters do the same thing, but may not use left-over strips of batting. I make a lot of charity quilts and this is my idea of being conservative

    I would like to hear how other quilters do this.
    Love that idea of using batting scraps. Thanks for the tip.
    Mary

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