Loading a quilt

Longarm Quilter’s use different tools and methods for loading a quilt and over the years I’ve settled into a routine that works for me. Since I frequently get questions I thought I’d snap some photos and share my process here. 

I pin just the backing to my leaders – standing at the machine and using corsage pins. I have zippered leaders but after the first year or two I found it easier to just stand and pin rather than to unzip the leader and sit on the floor in front of the machine.  


Once the backing is pinned, I roll it all on the top bar and then as I’m rolling to bottom, I use a squirt bottle with water to spritz any areas with wrinkles – no pressing backings for me! The spritz and the tension on the rollers magically removes any wrinkles. 


I layer my batting and then line up my quilt top. Rather than pin these, I do a quick basting stitch across the top 


Quilter’s C clamps along the belly bar keep the top smooth and even for quilting and are easy to reposition when rolling the quilt. 


Finally, side clamps to support the quilt edges.  


Finn is too young and curious to let loose in the sewing room but the downstairs bathroom makes a good playpen where he can watch me quilt. He doesn’t mind being contained as long as he can see me and usually settles down and takes a nap. 


I bought my side and C clamps at a quilt show and the businesses are no longer on the internet but a quick search of Grip Lite clamps comes up with several options including Nancy’s Notions.  Nothing popped up with a quick search for the Quilter’s C clamps but I’m sure someone out there still sells them.  

7 thoughts on “Loading a quilt

  1. Elaine/MuddlingThrough

    I have some quilters’ clamps I bought at Connecting Threads. Don’t know if they’d work, but I like the idea. I’ll have to try that next time I load one. Thank you! I love learning something new.

  2. Sara F

    I got such a kick out of the photo of Finn – supervising from behind the baby gate. He looks perfectly happy watching.

  3. Donna

    Thanks for sharing both pictures and tips. As a new long arm quilter I read a lot of tips that work for others. I do have zippers and have tried pinning too. Still just practicing, haven’t loaded a real quilt yet.

  4. Beth in AZ

    I still have those plastic clamps, but I use long magnets now. They are really tool magnets for the wall, but they hold my fabric like a champ! I also use Red Snappers to load and side clamps both sold by Renee Haddadin. No affiliation, just a happy customer. I believe Renee can be found at Quilts on the Corner website

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