The Quilted Cricket - any day spent quilting is a good day
This is what the Cricket loves to see when a top comes in to be quilted:  
 
Trim all those threads. Stray threads can show through the finished quilt and detract from the beauty of your finished quilt.  If you trim those stray threads before you give the quilt to the Cricket, she’ll appreciate it.  

Press the quilt top so those seams are flat. This is really important and can make a big difference in the final look of the quilt.  It is okay if some of the seams are twisted; that happens when you quilt.  But you really want to iron them as flat as you can.  Iron from the finished side (the front), and if you use starch or sizing it will be especially appreciated because it will be really easy to handle and nice to quilt. 

Be sure those borders lay flat not wavy.  The best way to make flat borders is to fold the quilt in half lengthwise and measure the center of the quilt and make the side borders the same length as the center measurement, NOT the edge measurement.   After you attach the side borders, fold the quilt in half the other way and measure the crosswise center (including the borders you just put on) and make the other borders the same length as that center measurement, not the edge measurement. 

Lay your quilt flat on a bed or floor and see if the blocks lay flat.   The Cricket can handle a little unevenness, but if a block is a D-cup or even a sombrero, you probably should consider re-doing it, because even puffy batting may not help in that case.   

In summary, the Cricket LOVES to quilt tops that are trimmed, pressed, borders even, and relatively flat.  

Now let's talk about backs. 

Your quilt back should be a MINIMUM of 4-5" bigger than your quilt top on each side.  That means a total of 8-10" longer and 6-8" wider.  This is because the Cricket will use that fabric to attach the quilt to the bars and side clamps of her frame.  She will also use the side edges to test the tension of her machine to make sure her settings work perfectly with your quilt.  Also, backs and batting tend to shrink up during the quilting process.  The Cricket offers to trim the quilt for you after it is quilted, returning it to you ready to be bound.  The excess batting and backing are also returned. 

If you piece your backing, which is most often the case, make sure to trim the selvages off.  Use a 1/2- 5/8" seam and press the seam open.  That will minimize the bulk in one area as the Cricket rolls the quilt back on the frame and minimizes any resulting waves.  Ideally, the quilt back can be loaded so the seam runs parallel to the bars, taking the bulk of the seam out of the equation, but that may not always be possible. So don't worry to much about that.

Square up your quilt back.  You can do this by folding it in quarters and using your rotary cutter and rulers to trim it even.  Just make sure the back ends up at least 8-10" longer and wider than the quilt top. 

Press the back.  Using starch or sizing makes it easier to handle.  In summary, your quilt back should be big enough, have pressed open seams without selvage, square and pressed.    



       
                                           

                                                
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