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Thread: Why am I getting wavy edges on quilt?

  1. #1
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    Why am I getting wavy edges on quilt?

    I just quilted a charity throw on my new longarm. Can't say the quilting is great yet, darn, but, I'll get there. What I don't get is why are my sides wavy when I put the binding on? Am I not pullting the binding tight enough? Do you think it might have something to do with a bit thicker batting? I'm pretty frustrated over it. Am hoping the recipient won't get too upset. Thanks so much for any advice you can give me.

  2. #2
    Senior Member PlanoDebbie's Avatar
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    When you attached your borders on the quilt, did you measure the length needed and cut the pieces to fit, or did you just put a strip of fabric on top of your quilt and stitch until you got to the other end of your quilt?

    Quite often, there is more give and stretch in your border than there is in the pieced blocks of your quilt. If you are not measuring your borders before attaching to your quilt, you will want to make sure you are pulling it somewhat snuggly. Otherwise, it's like you've attached a ruffle.

    I've had more than my fair share of ruffled quilts in my early days. Good luck!

  3. #3
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I agree. If you did not measure through the middle of the quilt and cut the borders to exact size before sewing them on, that is the problem.

    If you did pre-measure, pin, and sew then the edges are getting stretched on the frame. One thing that helps is cutting the borders on the lengthwise grain (parallel to selvedge) as that grain is more stable and stretches less. A lot of quilters also stabilize the edges on a frame before quilting. That is, they sew or baste down the sides after each roll, before quilting.

    Another thing you can do is pin the edges on each side before quilting (remove the pins before rolling). Pinning allows you to work in any excess fabric at the edge for each section.

  4. #4
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    Did you check the borders before loading? The borders may have had too much fabric in them to start. I re-square my quilted quilt before adding binding. I use my walking foot when sewing the binding on to keep all the layers moving at the same rate.

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    Thanks for the tips. I didn't happen to have any borders on this quilt...just big blocks. It was square when I loaded it...I didn't know about pinning or sewing the sides. How do you re-square a quilted quilt? I do use my walking foot putting on the binding. I do pin the binding - I didn't measure or check to see if each side was squared....it looked curvy, but after putting on the binding it was definitely wavy.

  6. #6
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I would suggest you put at least a 1 or 1-1/2" finished border on your quilts to stabilize the edges. Be sure to measure through the center for top and bottom and again for the sides. I fold quilt in half, mark with a pin, and again in half, on either side of that center pin. I do the borders the same way.
    I'm so sorry this happened to your quilt. I quilt on a 9" throat DSM and haven't used a long arm. I hope this helps.
    Another Phyllis
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    Since the quilt top did not have borders, is it possible some of the blocks had bias edges? It helps to measure the top to make sure it is square. If not, then make sure the quilt top lays without being stretched on the frame. Stabilizing will help a lot. Once I had a top with wavy edges....I simply quilted the heck out of them!

  8. #8
    Super Member ArtsyOne's Avatar
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    When I have wavy edges, it's always for one of two reasons: the pieces at the edges of the blocks may have been cut on the bias, or I've had to ease in (or stretch out) the inner edge of the border which leaves the outer edge sort of fluttery. What I've done to fix it is steam the heck out of it and press it as flat as I can. And really I wouldn't worry myself about it - your quilt was done with love and no one but you probably notices that the edges wave.
    A fabric stash is always missing that one fabric needed to finish the quilt on which you're working.

  9. #9
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    the quilting process sometimes (especially if using a lofty batting) becomes a little wonky- that is why we lay out the quilt and square it after quilting, trimming the backing/batting making sure it is squared before adding the binding. there are many tutorials on 'squaring your quilt' - sometimes they may need to be blocked- but I've always had pretty good luck just squaring them up- then add the binding.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

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    Another suggestion for the next quilt: stay stitch within about an eighth of an inch from the edge, all around your squared up quilt top (especially when there are no borders to help stabilize those edges) before loading it on the frame for quilting.

  11. #11
    Super Member eparys's Avatar
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    When I first started with my Voyager 17, I had the thought that if I had the side tensioners tight, the quilting would be "flatter". I found that yes, inconsistencies in the middle of the quilt might be flat but the edge of the quilt was sometimes wavy. If I have no border, I stay stitch the edge and when I have a border/borders the outer most border is always on the length of fabric if I have enough fabric to do so. I now "float my top", basting the edges tog before each pass and I do that before tensioning the sides.

    It is all a learning process - there is so much to learn and remember - it takes a while. Good luck with your machine!!
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  12. #12
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    When I have bias edges around the outside of my quilt, I always stitch 1/4 in. all the way around my quilt. I also do that if I have wide borders. I don't have a LA, so I have to send my quilts out. I have gotten quilts back where the borders were a little distorted, and they were'nt before the quilting.

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    Another thing that may have caused a bit of stretch is pinning the quilt too tightly to the leaders, and/or putting too much tension when attaching the side clamps. If you watch quilting videos, the pros have quite a bit of slack in the quilt.
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  14. #14
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    One of the best things I have started doing is starching. I starch every piece of fabric before I cut. This solves lots of problems, before you get to the binding. And not just a manufactured spray starch, it doesn't give the fabric enough body. I use Sta-Flo (buy at Walmart), I mix it half with water, then spray my water-dampened fabric with the starch and iron DRY. Then start cutting out my quilt. I think if you will try this method you will be amazed and will love it. It does take a little extra time but well worth it.

  15. #15
    Super Member jitkaau's Avatar
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    Measure across the middle of you quilt and cut the borders to fit that measurement. Ease any excess into that seam. Then measure the other way along the middle of your quilt and cut the border to that measurement and sew it on. Your measurement should be square after that.

  16. #16
    Super Member duckydo's Avatar
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    check out Bonnie Hunters's web site quiltville.com and check out how she puts boarders on, it also works for measuring your binding

  17. #17
    Senior Member canuckninepatch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jingle View Post
    I would suggest you put at least a 1 or 1-1/2" finished border on your quilts to stabilize the edges. Be sure to measure through the center for top and bottom and again for the sides. I fold quilt in half, mark with a pin, and again in half, on either side of that center pin. I do the borders the same way.
    I'm so sorry this happened to your quilt. I quilt on a 9" throat DSM and haven't used a long arm. I hope this helps.
    This is a super tip that should really stabilize the edges of your quilt.
    C9P aka Jan

  18. #18
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    Now don't send those quilt police my way, but I always STRETCH my binding as I'm putting it on. At least a little.

    The quilt I'm working on now is quite non-traditional. It has a double knit back and the same double knit squares in the top with other cottons. Just some fabric I wanted out of the house and it will be donated. I used pieces of batting, and machine quilted it in a large meander to keep these in place.

    I will stretching this binding quite a bit to make the knit behaves.
    Mavita - Square dancer and One Room School Teacher

  19. #19
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    you do need to baste the side of your quilt as you advance it.you need a pink centering tape.it goes on the front of your frame and as you advance the quilt,it allows you to line the sides of the quilt with the same measurement everytime.keeping the sides straight.then befor you quilt after advancing,look side to side and see if the quilt "appears"straight.if it looks straight,it probably is.there is so much on u-tube that can help you.just put in "long arm quilting".longarming is hard.but relax and enjoy it.

  20. #20
    Senior Member janeknapp's Avatar
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    If the quilt was not evenly stitched over the whole quilt, the outside edges may be wavy. You may need to add more stitching near the outer edges. Since your quilt is done, there is no going back and using the excellent suggestions for "in the future" although blocking your quilt could help.

    This happened to me only once and I hope I have learned my lesson. I had already put on the binding. I removed the binding. By hand I took needle and thread and did a slight gathering along the binding edge by stitching for three inches...pulling slightly to gather and then an overhand stitch 2-3 times to "lock" the gathering...stitch three more inches...repeat. I was able to cut six inches off the binding when I rebound the quilt. Maybe this could work for you. Good luck!

  21. #21
    Senior Member Ellen's Avatar
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    Alex Anderson told me a few yrs ago that sometimes the problem is a lot of quilting in the middle then less quilting on the edges or border. I know you don't have a border....in that case, I definately stay stitch the edges (no stretching when doing it either) Then measure thru center of quilt both ways and add binding.
    The quilt I asked Alex about has to have the border taken off and start over from there, with lots of hand quilting. I'm just sick about that but I will eventually do it.
    A quick fix for you is to put a rod pocket on the bottom and just get a dowel to flatten it out while it's hanging.
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  22. #22
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    What really helps me is to snug up the binding as I sew it on, as it takes up the looseness on the edges that aren't quilted. So far it works ok for me.

  23. #23
    Super Member quiltmom04's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jitkaau View Post
    Measure across the middle of you quilt and cut the borders to fit that measurement. Ease any excess into that seam. Then measure the other way along the middle of your quilt and cut the border to that measurement and sew it on. Your measurement should be square after that.
    I have to disagree - and I apologize for using this particular posting to quote, but if you measure the center and make the borders that length all you are doing is stretching or easing the borders to fit that measurement. If the edges of your quilt are not the same as the center, your quilt is not square, and stretching or easing will only compound the problem -visually. You might ease the border, but then all you'll have is the center puckered into a border. The border might be straight - you've just moved the problem in to the center. You have to correct the problem of why the edge of quilt is not right. Do you have to just trim a bit? Or take a bit more of a seam in some of the pieces. But if the quilt doesn't lay flat before the borders added, it won't lay flat when the border is on.

  24. #24
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    The best way is to measure through the center of the quilt for the length and width, as blocks may vary a little, this way you get the edge you want.

  25. #25
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quiltmom04 View Post
    I have to disagree - and I apologize for using this particular posting to quote, but if you measure the center and make the borders that length all you are doing is stretching or easing the borders to fit that measurement. If the edges of your quilt are not the same as the center, your quilt is not square, and stretching or easing will only compound the problem -visually. You might ease the border, but then all you'll have is the center puckered into a border. The border might be straight - you've just moved the problem in to the center. You have to correct the problem of why the edge of quilt is not right. Do you have to just trim a bit? Or take a bit more of a seam in some of the pieces. But if the quilt doesn't lay flat before the borders added, it won't lay flat when the border is on.
    The reason for measuring through the middle of the quilt and cutting the borders to those measurements is so that excess border is not sewn onto the quilt. The most common cause of wavy edges is sewing a border on without measuring first because chances are high that either the border will stretch as it is sewn, or the feed dogs will feed more border than quilt with each stitch. This also takes care of minor differences in measurement in the quilt top itself (e.g., one side slightly longer than the other). Trying to solve large discrepancies in this way won't work for the reasons you provide.

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