If you’ve stepped up your quilting game to include working on a frame setup like the Grace Q'nique 21 Longarm Quilting Frame, one of the first things you must learn to do before you can make your first stitch is to position your quilt on the frame.
Grace frame machine combos make stitching larger projects a breeze to get great results; however, that will only happen if you’ve correctly set up your quilt before you begin.
Follow these steps for positioning your project to be sure that it is tight and secure on the frame before you start stitching away!
Three Techniques for Loading A Quilt Onto the Frame
To use your Grace/Q'nique longarm combo setup to stitch your quilt project, you must first get your quilt sandwich secured onto the frame for stitching with one of three different techniques you can use to do that:
Partial Float Method - The most commonly used method and one that offers good control of the project, a partial float works by attaching one end of the top layer of the quilt onto the top roller and hanging the other end over the batting, where it’s pinned or basted into place only.
Full Float Method - A less commonly used method, full float is where the top of the quilt is simply hung over the rails but not affixed to them. Although it is the easiest method to set up, it offers the least amount of control over fabric shifting.
- Full Attachment Method - The method that offers the most control in preventing shifting, the full attachment method involves attaching both ends of the quilt to the different rollers so everything is held tightly.
Loading the Quilt Onto the Frame
Regardless of which method you use to load a quilt onto your Grace frame machine combo, the basic process is the same and can be accomplished in a few steps:
Prepare the Fabric Layers - Press the layers, trim all thread ends, double-check for any open seams, ensure that your batting and backing are both cut to have at least 4 inches more around all sides of the top quilt and mark the top of the your quilt and backing with a safety pin.
Decide on the Loading Method - Choose from one of the above methods for floating the top of your quilt.
Start Mounting the Backing - Square up the backing on the quilt backing roller and roll it up so it’s smooth and straight on the roller.
Mount The Top Layer of the Quilt - Find and mark the true center of the top of the quilt, align the top edge of the quilt to the center of the top roller’s canvas edge, and hang the excess over the pickup roller. Attach the top to the canvas on the top roller and roll it up so it’s smooth and straight on the roller.
Finish Backing Attachment - Unroll some of the canvas from the pickup roller and wrap it around the leveling bar. Extend the backing, pin it to the canvas, and then roll up the excess onto the pickup roller until the backing is tight.
Place the Batting - Slide the batting right side up inbetween the top roller and the pickup roller near the machine throat; smooth it out and align with the edge of the pickup roller; let the excess hang over the batting bar.
Baste or Pin the Edges - Once the top of the quilt is fully secured to the rollers and all layers are aligned, go along both sides and pin, baste, or clamp the top down so it stays in place as the layers are unrolled and stitched.
Quilting Success = Proper Positioning On the Frame
The most challenging part of using a frame and machine combo like the Grace Q'nique 21 Longarm Quilting Machine is positioning the quilt layers on the frame for easy stitching.
Though it may take a few times to get the techniques down so you have little shifting, once you figure it out your setup time will get faster with practice.
Set up properly on your Grace/Q'nique combo frame, your quilt sandwich is ready for stitching so you can watch as your quilt begins to come to life!