Loading a Quilt on a Janome Long Arm Machine

Ok, so you just bought a new Janome Long Arm Quilting machine! Now what?

Reading the Instruction Manual from cover to cover should be one of the first steps, but how to load a quilt is an important, and exciting step, too! Here are just a few tips and tricks you should know before you get started.

Press your quilt top. Turn your quilt top over and make sure the seams lie flat and are pressed in opposite directions to minimize thick seam junctions. I always tell my students; your iron is your best friend!

Make sure the quilt top lays flat. If the top is flared or has extra fullness, the quilt cannot and should not be pulled out to lay flat. If you stretch it out on the frame, the quilt will condense and bow out of shape as soon as you take it off. You can possibly take out some of the fullness with quilting patterns or techniques such as folding in a tuck that disguises the problem. This does not assure however that there may not be some puckering or tucks around the edges.

Backing. The backing should be 4″ to 5″ wider than the top all around. This allows you to pin the backing to the leaders and use the side clamps without the machine carriage running into them. The backing must be square in order for it to load properly. When possible, load the backing with the selvage to the leaders, but don’t forget to pay attention to any directional prints on your backing, though.

Batting. Same as the backing, the batting should be wider than the quilt top all around. There are so many varieties of batting out there. Make sure you choose one that suits the quilt’s intending purpose and the quilting style and design you’ve choosen.

Load the backing first. Make sure the right side of the fabric is facing down. The wrong side should be facing you. There are great Facebook videos on how to load the backing and tops. If the backing has a seam down the middle, it is best to load the seam parallel to the bars to avoid a droopy backing.

Lay the batting on top of the wrong side of the backing. Keep everything nice and smooth but avoid pulling the batting out of shape. You can choose to baste the batting onto the backing if you wish or spray baste it in place.

Load the Quilt Top. The top is now ready to be loaded by either pinning the bottom of the quilt top to the quilt top leader or by just “floating” the top onto the batting, without pinning it to the leader. The floating or pinning technique is really a personal preference. Sometimes the size and the amount of quilting you plan on doing on a quilt will determine if you should float or pin the top. For example, whenever I’m going to do a lot of dense background fill, I’ll pin the quilt top the leader, so everything stays in place and the quilt doesn’t draw up too much. Whenever I do a simple open edge-to-edge design, however, I float.

There is a printable PDF with step-by-step instructions how to load a quilt on a Janome Quilt Maker Frame by Janome America’s Longarm Quilting Specialist, Kelley McKenzie. Kelley also has a ton of videos on each of the longarm machines on Janome’s You Tube Channel.

The last little tip I can give is the magic of spray starch. If you have a quilt where the blocks create a B or C Cup bulging in the centre, you can spray starch that block and press it with a hot iron to shrink the fullness of the block a bit at a time. Same goes for wonky borders. Try it next time and you’ll be amazed how easy it is!

Don’t forget to follow all our socials like Janome HQ, Janome HQ Instagram and the Janome HQ You Tube channel.

Happy Quilting!


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2 Responses to Loading a Quilt on a Janome Long Arm Machine

  1. Anne says:

    Your description on how to load a quilt on the long arm frame is excellent. Just one problem-I tried to print off the printable pdf and I can’t do it. It keeps coming up with an error. I would really like a copy of it. Is there another spot I can get it or can you mail me one-I would gladly pay for the postage. It would help me so much to be able to refer to it especially if it is in colour. Thank you for your help.


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