Today we'll be talking a little about how to put your fabric on your frame, especially how to do it so that your top layer won't get distorted as you quilt.
There are three basic layers of fabric to a quilt, the top, the batting, and the backing.
At the beginning, make sure that each piece of your fabric is cut straight.
If possible, make the backing layer 4-6 inches wider and 6-10 inches longer than the top layer. This is done so that the backing is always the giver to the top.
Start by marking the center of each piece of fabric on the top and bottom edges. Also mark the center of your cloth leaders. Begin pinning you fabric to your cloth leaders, starting from the center marks you made, and pinning your way out towards the edges.
Here I marked the center of my fabric with a pin.
As you roll the fabric onto your frame, make sure that it is going on straight. If it starts to shift, brush the fabric from the center of the rail with your hands to keep it rolling straight.
If your top layer and the backing are the same size, here's a trick so you can still have enough room on the backing for the bungee clamps. The two fabrics I am using here were bought to make a baby quilt and were both 45 inch fabrics. So I am cutting off the selvedge on the top layer and I am pinning an extra piece of fabric on each side of the backing. This is to give me enough room on the fabric to attach my bungee clamps for side tension. You have to attach your side tension to the backing and batting only, so that you don't end up distorting the top layer as you quilt.
After I am done pinning my fabric to the cloth leaders, and attaching the bungee clamps, I will baste down the sides along the edge and across the top of my fabric as far as my machine will let me. Every time I roll the quilt a little more, I'll continue to baste along the edges with my machine, and when I reach the end, I'll unpin the top from the cloth leader and attach it to the backing. Then I will baste along the bottom edge as well.
Basting this way keeps the top layer from shrinking as I quilt. It will also make it nice when I'm done quilting and go to sew the binding on.
For more information about placing your fabric on your frame, please see this little PDF guide.
As always, if you have any questions or would like to request some tips or tricks, feel free to leave a comment about it here on the blog. I will be happy to answer them as soon as I can.
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