Quilting more than one quilt at a time

July 15, 2014

Imagine how quickly you could knock out quilts if you could get more than one on the frame at a time! Well, it IS possible if you use a single backing fabric for both quilts. (While you could theoretically “full-float” both the backing and quilt tops, you would struggle with keeping all the layers smooth at the same time with two tops going at once).

First, check to see if your machine’s canvas center marks still align with one another. Pull the pick-up roller canvas over to the quilt top and backing roller, smooth the canvas, and make sure your marks are true (if you need to readjust them, use a water-soluble marker as a temporary mark until you are sure that they are staying aligned for more than one quilt). If your centers are in line, then use the water-soluble marker to add small “hash marks” down the edge of the canvas spaced one inch apart. Mark your center mark as “zero” (0) and add numbers to the left and right of the zero: ….5…4…3…2…1…0…1….2….3…continuing until you run out of canvas.

Repeat the numbering system for each of your canvas rollers. (These reference numbers can help you ease in quilts, help you avoid overstretching borders, etc). For today’s topic, however, the numbers will help you align more than one quilt on your frame!

Pin on backing fabric that is large enough for both projects (or three if your table is long enough). Instead of mounting one quilt right in the center of your frame, move it to the left or right and choose one of the numbers you just added to your canvas as the new “zero” or center mark for that quilt. Pin it to the quilt top roller. Add the other project in the same manner. Now use the corresponding numbers to your “new center marks” for these quilts to align the top edge of the quilt on the backing.

When completing multiple projects with one common backing, a “partial float” loading method is easiest. Since the bottom of the edge of each quilt is attached to the quilt top roller, the top edge may fall at different locations on the backing when the quilt is rolled up on the roller. Simply stitch your reference line through the batting and backing as usual (that’s a straight horizontal line all the way across the backing and batting). Then visually extend your “new center marks” down to your reference line from the pick-up roller.

Smooth each quilt top up toward the line. If the tops are not the same size, one may not reach all the way up to the reference line. Either stitch a new reference line for that quilt only, or “eyeball” the distance between the first stitched line and the quilt top and secure the top to the backing a consistent distance from the reference line. Have fun, and whip those baby quilts out!