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Squaring up Your Quilt backing: A Step-By-Step Guide for Longarm Quilting

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

Why Squaring Up Quilt Backing is Important:

As a quilter, I know how hard you worked on your beautiful quilt top. Then to hand it over to a Longarm Quilter for the finishing stitches can really be nerve wracking. But you can help your nerves by squaring your backing fabric. This will ensure that your quilt will lay flat and straight, making it easier to quilt on a longarm machine. When quilting your top on a domesticated machine the squaring up of the backing fabric is not an essential part of the process, but for longarm quilting it is. This is due to the loading process of the longarm machine, and how the fabric wraps around the bars during the quilting process. Squaring your backing aides in the alignment for flawless longarm quilting.

I hope that this step-by-step guide will help you to feel confident as you square your backing fabric.

Step 1: Gather Your Tools

· Iron

· Fabric starch or spray water bottle, if needed.

· Self-healing cutting mat.

· Rotary cutter with a new blade.

· A square acrylic ruler.

· Additional acrylic rulers if you have them.

Step 2: Press Your Backing Fabric

Make sure to press your backing very well. Use fabric starch or a spray water bottle for any difficult wrinkles.

  • There are Longarm Quilters who prefer the seams to be pressed open, so make sure to check with them for their preference. If you are pressing your seams open, lower your stitch length to 1.9 -1.85. This will strengthen the seam and make it stronger.

Step 3: Start with the Corners

Using your largest cutting station and starting with a corner of your backing fabric, lay it out as flat as possible.

Begin squaring your backing by using the largest square ruler you have. Place your square ruler in the corner aligning the top edge and side edge of your fabric with the ruler edge at a 90° angel. Use the additional rulers to line up with the square ruler to extend as long as possible along the top and side edges of your backing.

Trim the excess.

Continue this process until all corners are squared.

Step 4: Trim from Corner to Corner

When you have completed the last corner, continue trimming your way up along the sides between each corner. Move your backing fabric and rulers throughout the process. Keep your fabric nice and flat and aligned with the lines on your cutting mat. Continue this method until the entire quilt backing is trimmed and squared.

Step 5: Stay in Alignment

If you come to a section of your backing fabric that does not extend to your ruler edge don’t trim. Move your quilt and ruler to the corner above and start trimming your way down to the section where you were just trimming. Continue trimming all the way to the bottom corner. This will allow you to stay in alignment.

Squaring up your quilt backing can feel like such a daunting and taxing process. (At least for me it used to.) After all the work you invested in piecing, ironing and designing there is still more to do. And usually with such a large piece of fabric. But I really hope that this tutorial eased those feelings if you were experiencing them.

Happy Quilting,


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