Flat Non-Waving Quilts – Part 3

Even if we do everything perfectly as far as piecing our tops and adding borders, the quilting itself can make or break a quilt in so many ways but specifically as far as whether the quilt will lay nice and flat.

I am not a hand quilter so I am not qualified to give advice or recommendations about hand quilting so I will discuss longarm quilting, and this will include short arm and mid-arm quilting also.

One of the main issues affecting the “lay” of the quilt is the tension.  If too much tension is placed on the backing or on the top, that pulls the quilt, stretching every part that can stretch.  Since the center is usually pieced and the borders, at least one of them, isn’t pieced, the more tension placed on the top, the more stretching will occur on those non-pieced borders.  The quilt is quilted and then when it’s taken off the machine, the borders are going to flare or ripple a bit.  Be very careful with the amount of tension you put on the backing and on the top!

Another issue can occur with loading the top.  Whether the top is loaded by zippers, pinning or floated, if the edges are pulled and not allowed to lay flat, the corners are going to get stretched and again cause rippling.

Finally, when adding the binding to a quilt, be careful that the quilt is flat with no rippling and that the binding is not being stretched while being sewn onto the quilt.

I love lots of different battings and it would be hard for me to tell you which one is my favorite.  Some I like for different quilts, some I like better today while tomorrow I might like a different one better.  But, the quilts with Warm & Natural batting always seem to lay much flatter than those with other battings.  There’s hardly ever a ripple when Warm & Natural batting is used.

If you’ve read through these past three posts, please don’t worry about making perfectly flat quilts.  Most, if not all, of the quilts most of us make are quilts going to love ones or to those in need and I doubt any one of those recipients might scrutinize your quilt to see if it is perfectly square, with no ripples.  The quilts are loved and appreciated as they are meant to be and no one is passing judgment!  And, if you are making quilts for competition or to be photographed for magazines or books . . and you’re looking to me for advice, you have a much larger problem than a flat quilt!  🙂   I was simply responding to questions about how I make my quilts flat.  If your quilts are wavy and it bothers you, hopefully something I’ve written here will help you!


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    Mel Meister says


    I’m looking for a thin cotton batting. Here in Florida, I’d prefer thinner quilts. I’ve been using Quilter’s Dream 100% cotton, and it’s a very nice batting, but I’d like something thinner, preferably mostly cotton.


    • 1.1


      Have you tried the Warm and Natural that Judy mentioned? That is what I use and I get it from Joann’s . It is very thin, in fact I need to find something much heavier for my mom since she is always cold. It is 100% cotton.

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    I have a dumb question for you since I’m fixing to start quilting my first big quilt. When you say the tension is too tight, am I correct that you are talking about the pulling of the fabric when it is basted? Or are you talking about thread tension?