Preparing a Quilt for Longarming 

If you’re preparing a quilt to be sent to a longarmer, you may be wondering what steps you should take in order to get your quilt ready.

Here are the five simple steps I ask all of my longarming clients to complete before they mail me their projects. 

Shelly stands at a table with her quilt top spread out in front of her.

** Keep in mind that your longarmer may have different steps. There is no “right way” or “wrong way” to do this - I’m just sharing my personal process.

Sew a Victory Lap™

If your quilt has a lot of piecing that ends of the edge of the quilt, you might want to sew a Victory Lap™ around the perimeter of your quilt.

What’s a Victory Lap™, you ask? It’s a funny term that I made up / heard somewhere and have now adopted as a core part of my quilting experience. 

Shelly sits at a sewing machine and stitches around the perimeter of her quilt top.

Y’know that feeling when you finish the last long seam of your quilt project, and you want to celebrate being DONE? I’d recommend that you pause the celebration until after you complete the Victory Lap™.

Basically, it means that you sew an extra line of stitching ⅛” away from the edge of your quilt, all around the perimeter. It will secure the piecing at the sides and will ensure that the longarm machine doesn’t accidentally flip over that piece of fabric and stitch it upside down. 

A longarm machine hopping foot pushes over a loose section of fabric.

It only takes a minute, and you can feel confident knowing that you’ve sent your longarmer a quilt top that’s secure, and they won’t have to worry about unwanted accidents at the edges of your quilt. 

The line of stitches will be covered by the binding, so you’ll never see it in the finished quilt. 

A closeup view of a sewing machine foot stitching a quilt at the edge.

If your quilt has borders, this step isn’t necessary.

Press the quilt top well

The flatter the quilt top, the better the longarming results you’ll get. 

You want the hopping foot of the machine to glide effortlessly over your quilt top, without getting caught up on any fullness in your blocks, or floppy seams that haven’t been pressed down. 

Shelly stands at an ironing board, pressing the back of her quilt top.

Treat your quilt top as if it was a block you just finished - give it a nice press to get it as flat as possible. 

It doesn’t matter to me whether my clients have pressed their seams to the side, open, or a combination of the two. My longarm machine is an industrial BEAST that will sew through whatever is underneath it. 

An overhead view of Shelly's hand holding an iron, pressing a quilt top.

If your quilt top has REALLY thick points (as in: you had to use a hammer to get them flat), you’ll probably want to give your longarmer a heads-up to discuss strategy / expected outcomes. 

But if your quilt is a “normal” top and has some thick areas, you should be fine. 

If in doubt: ask first before sending!

Clip dark threads

This is by far my least favourite step in preparing a quilt for longarming, but I know it’s for the best. Sigh. 

It’s Murphy’s Law that any dark thread on the back of your quilt top will find its way to the lightest part of your quilt top, get stitched in place, and will be visible for the rest of your life, making your eye twitch every time you see it (or is that just me?)

In order to avoid this, you can spend some time clipping the loose threads on the back of your quilt. Especially the dark ones!

An overhead view of Shelly's hands clipping loose threads on the back of her quilt top.

This job normally takes me 15 - 30 minutes (depending on the size of the quilt), and is made infinitely more pleasant by:

  • Popping in some earbuds and a good podcast / audiobook, and
  • Working on a high surface like a counter, or my sewing island
Shelly stands at an island, clipping threads on the back of her quilt top.

It’s not realistic to expect to be able to get rid of *every* loose thread on your quilt back. At some point, you’re going to have to call it “good enough” and move on with your life. 

If you used some of these new “woven” fabrics in your quilt top, you’re probably going to look at the back of your quilt top and have a heart attack, because there will be ONE BAJILLIONTY of them. Take a deep breath, focus on the darkest threads near the lightest fabrics first, and just do your best. 

If (despite your best efforts) a dark thread does somehow end up showing on the front of the quilt, you can remove it with a Clover Soft Touch Thread Pic (or a really tiny crochet hook). 

Check out my very satisfying Reel about the tool

Links to purchase Clover Soft Touch Thread Pic



Mark the top

This simple trick will save you and your longarmer from confusion, not to mention all the emails / texts / phone calls back and forth that it will take to get things figured out.

All you have to do is mark the center of the top edge of your quilt top and backing. 

Shelly sits at a wooden counter and places a piece of green painter's tape on her quilt top.

I like to use painter’s tape (or washi tape, or some other kind of tape that will not leave a residue on your quilt top). Some of my clients prefer to attach a note (I prefer it if they attach the note with a safety pin rather than a straight pin so I don’t accidentally poke myself), and other clients use a quilter’s clip.

A white note with he word "TOP" is safety-pinned to a quilt top.

Do this for your quilt backing as well, and there will be no confusion whatsoever, and your longarmer will be able to get straight to work after receiving your quilt. 

If your quilt top has a very obvious “top” and “bottom” (ex: the design is a large heart), then this step isn’t necessary.

If you don’t have a preference for which edge is the top of your quilt, it would also be worth communicating that to your longamer (so they don’t need to email you to clarify). 

Fold on the bias 

I have a whole other blog post about this, so I won’t go into too much detail here, but this is a critical step in preparing your quilt for longarming. 

It’s a great idea to fold your quilt on the bias if you’re shipping it to your longarmer (and even if you’re just packing it up to take to their studio).

An overhead view of Shelly kneeling on the floor, folding her quilt top.

The diagonal folds will be along the stretchy edge of the fabric fibers, and they’ll release so much easier when pulled out of their package.

Folding your quilt top (and the backing) on the bias will reduce any harsh creases that will form en route, and will ensure that your longarmer won’t have to press them before loading on the longarm machine. 

It makes no difference if you fold them together or separately, but I receive a lot that are folded together.


So all you need to do when preparing your quilt for longarming is:

  • Lap it
  • Press it
  • Clip it
  • Mark it 
  • Fold it

Whenever I say this in my head, it’s always to the tune of the 90’s commercial for the BOP IT toy. 😆


If you’d like a checklist of these steps (and more), you can download one FREE here.

I cover all of the information in this post, as well as the steps for the backing, and tips on packaging and insuring your parcel. 

What about the quilt back?

If you read this post and thought “but what about the backing?”, rest assured that I’ll also be creating a post about preparing your backing for longarming. I’ll link it here (once it’s created). 

Prefer video?

If you’d prefer to watch a tutorial about these techniques, you can check out my YouTube video here. 👇👇👇

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