Hi, welcome to the Quilt Lady’s newsletter, grab a cup of something and a biscuit and make yourself comfortable. Today I’d like to talk about taking your quilt to a long arm quilter. It’s a big and possibly scary step to take if you have never done it before, so I’d like to help take the fear out of the process.
You will have spent many happy hours choosing patterns and fabrics, cutting and piecing the top together, and then ground to a halt at the thought of quilting the thing. Crawling around on the floor to layer, pin and baste because that is the only space big enough to lay everything out flat. And then spending the next 6 – 24 months hand quilting it. Or wrestling with it and your sewing machine. A couple of rounds with The Rock might be preferable. No wonder so many of us put off the evil moment and the top is folded up and put on the pile to get to someday.
Choosing to take your quilt(s) to a long arm quilter makes an awful lot of sense. Why not have someone else finish your quilt off for you? Not all of us enjoy the quilting as much as the piecing. So, no more feeling guilty about that pile of tops sitting around. You can start on your next project with a clear conscience too. So, ask around at quilt group meetings, or at your local shop, and you will be given a name and a phone number. Then, and I’d love to make it easy for you here, you really do have to make that call. We long arm quilters are good, but telepathic skills are not standard issue with the machines. Sorry. We’re a pretty friendly group though, so chances are more than good you will be made welcome and that you will have taken the first steps on the path into a whole new, exciting world.
To make those first steps as painless as possible, it will help enormously if the quilt is ready to go onto the frame. It should be square and lie as flat as possible. Loose thread ends should be trimmed, especially if the thread is darker than some of the fabrics. Seams should be pressed. The batting and backing fabrics should be 4-8” larger all round than the quilt top. I promise this last item especially is not an idle request. To stabilise the quilt on the frame it is clamped at the sides. Those clamps will impede the machine’s smooth quilting movements if they are too close to the edge of the top. And the quilt is pinned top and bottom onto fabric leaders, and if there is no overlap it is too easy to stitch into those leaders. And that means a whole lot of stitch ripping. Not fun.
It will also help in deciding what kind and how much quilting you would like done if you have a clear idea of who and/or what the quilt is for. Is it going to be used on a bed or hang on a wall? Is it for a child, a teenager or a more mature person? Will it be used and abused or treasured and guarded? I would want to discuss any and all possibilities with you so that I will be able to make informed suggestions about the style of quilting that’s right for your quilt, for you and for your budget.
Once we have agreed on all the quilting details and a time frame, and we have both signed the work order you can relax, head off to the fabric shop and buy what you need for your next project. And wait for my call to say your quilt is ready.