I do not have a long arm machine, so floating a quilt top does not pertain to me, but some information is just too good not to share. Briefly, to “float the top” means to not pin it to the leaders. To float a top, attach the backing as usual, then lay the batting on the backing and baste it to the backing to give a straight line. Pin the top to the batting, smooth out the top, and allow the bottom to float (hang) free. You can now lift it to smooth out the batting. Quilt as usual, smoothing it as you go and making sure the edges stay parallel and at the same width as you started.
Here is some advice from Kris Bizzarri:
“I pin the backing onto the take-up roller and the canvas for the backing under the frame table. I roll it up evenly.
I lay the batting on top of the backing, right along the top edge – I don’t see any reason to start down 2-3”. I place a pin about every 9” or so along the top, perpendicular to the canvas, making sure it is smoothed out.
I baste the batting to the backing – I start on the left side, about 2” down from the batting edge. I turn on the channel lock, turn up my speed to 30, and run a stitch along the backing/batting. I push the machine with my left hand, rather quickly so the stitches are very large. With my right hand, I’m pressing down on the batting just ahead of the machine so no pleats occur. This basting line gives me a straight line to now pin my top on.
I also figured out what to do with the canvas leader underneath that I used to pin the top to – I tied the end up to the under part of the frame, so I have a “cradle” for me to put the batting and top into as I’m working, and they’re not just laying on the floor.
I first tried floating about 8 months ago, and haven’t done it the “old” way since. I love it – It’s so easy to lift the top when necessary, and much easier for me to keep the top straight.”
If you have any pictures of your personal experience with “Floating the top” please share them with us.
~The Dream Team