Zip, Zip, Zip…. Zippers or Pins?

So I have finished a couple of quilts on my BERNINA and am loving it!  BUT, it was time ….. to put the zippers on!

You may be thinking zippers on your longarm… whatever for?  Loading quilts can be a time consuming process so when I was doing customer quilts, I started using zippers instead of pinning my quilts to the leaders.  WOW, what a time difference.  But that wasn’t the only great thing about zippers…. There were times that I ran out of thread for a particular quilt and I was able easily zip it off and zip another on.  Once the thread arrived, I was able to zip the quilt back on and continue.

How many of you have stuck yourself with those corsage pins?  Those really hurt, pins are bad enough but those pins really gouge you. So happy to be done with them.  🙂

We are all familiar with the seam ripper.  Well, with the zippers, I was able to take the quilt off, rip out the offending stitches and put back on easily with those zippers.  Yippee!!!

So now that I have my new BERNINA Longarm, it was time  to put those zippers on the leaders.  I purchased my zippers from The Quilting Connection LLC .  Its called the Quick Zip system and it is super easy.

First I find the center of my leaders and the center of the zipper and I pin from the middle out.  I do this on both the backing leaders.


Then I zip them together. But don’t pull tight.  I then take the machine and sew the zippers to the leaders removing the pins as I go along so I don’t hit them.


Once both zippers are sewn to the leaders. You can pull tight.


You can also put a zipper on the leader where you attach the quilt top.  I tend to either float my top or  just pin my top on with flower head pins as  I won’t take my quilt off till it is at least stabilized.   Then you can just zip your quilt on.  This quilt had zippers on because I had started it on my other machine.

IMG_0877When I am ready to do a new quilt, I will take the backing fabric over to my BERNINA 750QE and set my stitch length to the longest there is and baste the backing to the zippers.  I start from the center out to make sure it centered.  Then I can just zip the backing on.   The best part is when I am done with the quilt, I can just rip the quilt from the zippers.   LOVE that sound!

I am curious how everyone loads their quilts?  Do you float, pin, leader grips?  And why do you do it that way?

Quilt on, My friends!


27 thoughts on “Zip, Zip, Zip…. Zippers or Pins?

  1. Hi Lisa! I use the corsage pins and can relate to being stabbed many times over the years. I was taught from the beginning to use them, but the zippers sound great!!

  2. I’ve had zippers on my longarm for almost 10 years and still love them. Even with all the new snapper things available, I like that the quilt stays centered and is on and of in a flash.

  3. I also have zippers on both my machines. It allows me to go back and forth between the freehand machine and the e2e computerized machine. I pin directly to the zipper tape with the corsage pins. I have a pulley system in my studio that has the same zipper side as the take-up roller. When I’m done quilting I can zip the quilt to the pulley system for inspections and pictures. If it needs to go back on for a fix, it’s all ready to go.

  4. I was using Red Snappers until I took a class from Sue Patten. Now I align the backing with the grain of the fabric parallel to the rails then pen it to the leaders. This way the backing fabric does not need to be squared first. For me a big time saver.

  5. I still love my corsage pins! My leaders are attached to my rollers with velcro, so if I need to take a quilt off in a hurry I can (like when a fire is approaching the house like it did 2 years ago), but I put my backing on my leaders with pins, the sew the batting on the backing in a straight line and line up the top with that sewn line. I pin my top to the final leader – I can’t keep quilts straight if I float them. I can’t sew a straight line for that long…tried it when I used a friend’s machine, and it just isn’t my gift!! I only have one set of leaders, so it really wouldn’t make much of a difference. If I run out of thread, I call the other longarm quilter in town to borrow some some her!

  6. Still using pins, even though I bought a snap system. I do like the idea of the ease of the zippers and never would have thought how to easily sew the zippers to the leaders, so thank you, Lisa!

  7. I recently switched to mondo clips from zippers. Still decidung which I prefer. When I used zippers I pinned the backing with quilters curved basting safety pins.
    Just curious, what batting are you using for the quilt in the photo?

  8. I purchased the zippers in 2012 from Sue Schmieden but did not install them until last fall. I used Red Snappers for years. I am much happier with the zipper method. I float my tops and use Jamie Wallen’s clamps to hold the pesky/wonky tops in place.

  9. I found this post timely as I am still using the corsage pins and managed to take a lovely chunk out of my finger as one of the pins got caught on the side of my hand no less. Not fun. Will need to look into the zippers. Thanks for the post.

  10. I use the chain stitch on my Pfaff serger to attach zipper to backing. When the quilt is finished the chain stitch pulls right out! If I use a zipper on the bottom of a quilt top, I still pin that with flower head pins. Love the pulley zipper idea!

  11. I have been using my home made leader grip system for years now and love it, although the zippers sound like a great idea too! The home made leader grip system I have was very inexpensive, which was one of the factors for me when I was tired of being stuck by big pins!

  12. I use a power staple gun! I float my quilts and when finished I use a cordless power cutter and cut close to the staples and then pop the strips off the leaders. Should have the top of the staple on fabric side for easy removal. Tried the snappers but felt they took up too much fabric at the top.

  13. Pingback: Me and my BERNINA’s! | Lisa H Calle's Blog

  14. I have leader grips, zippers, and even velcro leaders (from a Sharon Shambers video I saw).. I use whatever works for the backing I am load. Prefer not to use pins as I alway stab myself at least once every time I use them. I apply zippers with a stapler, works great… it is the method I like best.

  15. Could you make a video attaching the zippers to the leaders and to the quilt? I’m having difficulty visulizing the process! Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s