There are many systems to assist in loading the quilt pieces onto a longarm. I like to use the Quick Zip System. One of the advantages is there is less time bending over the longarm in an awkward position. The backing and top can be attached to half the zipper while I am sitting down. Then it is just a quick zip onto the system. Another advantage is that a quilt can be removed midstream and then reattached without losing the position of the quilt. In addition, I like to have more than one quilt top ready to be longarmed. That way I get the most out of my warmed up machine. I can zip off the completed quilt and zip on the pieces for the next one. Each zipper is labeled so, theoretically, you don’t pin the zipper onto the wrong segment of the sandwich. Here’s the quilt top and backing pinned and waiting for its turn. Notice the zippers are already attached to the back, but the top of the front is not pinned to a zipper.
First I pin the back, right side down to the top and bottom leaders. I can then zip it onto my APQS Millenium, fondly called Alice, if you must know.
Then I roll the bottom roller until the backing is in position.
I like to add the batting at this point. The batting just floats on top of the backing.
Here’s what the quilt top looks like as it is being zipped:
Notice one half of the zipper is sewn to the canvas leader. The other half, as I indicated, is pinned to the bottom of the quilt top. This is what it looks like pinned. Again, only the bottom is pinned. (Many people like to float their tops, but I am better able to control the measurements and centering when I pin it.) I do float the top when I am almost finished with the quilt. I’ll show you that in a bit. If you click on the picture you can see the zipper better.
Notice that only the top of the batting is pinned. I will baste the top and edges before starting the design. I also continue to baste the edges as I roll the quilt sandwich.
Here’s what it looks like when I have completed my first area of quilting. See how the excess top is rolled onto the lower bar.
Here’s the other quilt I was working on this day. Notice how the bottom of the quilt is no longer pinned to the leader and is floating. I have basted the edges so the quilt remains square. Again, if you click on the photograph you can see the basting, approximately 1″ to 1 1/2 ” long. I float the top only when I’m on my last pass.
And here is the front and back of the completed quilt with the binding sewn on by machine.
So that is my zipper system. There are many loading options out there, floating, direct pinning, red snappers, etc. However, this is my favorite system. Happy quilting!