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Quilting and Longarming FAQ’s this page is under construction and new information will be added weekly
Pat is no longer accepting teaching or lecture engagements. She is now dedicated to Longarm quilting in her home studio. This allows for a very quick quilt turnover of 3-4 weeks after receiving quilts.
If you can not travel to Pat’s studio, all communication can be done via email, text and phone. Quilts can be shipped via USPS, UPS or FedX. Click here for more details
Many of my quilting clients have never seen a longarm machine and are not familiar with the longarm process.
As a valiable resource, I would like to address many “Frequently Asked Questions” about Longarming and Quilting questions and walk you through the process.
What Happens to My Quilt at the Longarmer’s-You, Your Quilt & the Longarmer’s Journey
When you drop your quilt off with your longarmer you probably wonder what happens to it. I have had a new quilter ask if I put it on the machine and push the “on” button, then walk away while the quilting machine runs on its own…..
Well, not quite.
I do more custom quilting so I have a basic free motion Gammill Lonmgarm machine. Even my pantograph designs are free motion hand guided quilting. Longarmers lucky enough to have a “Statler Stitcher” (has pantogarphs programmed into its computer) still have to follow most of the same steps as I do but their machine costs double. They also require the technical knowledge to run the computerized machine and know how to deal with computer problems. Even they can’t walk away while the quilt is being quilted – threads still break, bobbins still run out and quilts are not perfectly square. The process is quite involved and it takes many years of experience to perfect these skills.
Pat has been quilting and teaching since 1985 and longarm Quilting since 2002 My belief: I treat every quilt as if it were my very own. Every quilt deserves to be quilted no matter how plain or fancy it is. Each quilt has a purpose whether it is to be admired for show or destined for loving use.
When you bring your quilt to Pat, or before you mail it, your initial appointment involves:
See Pat’s Tutorial: “IS YOUR QUILT READY” before you arrive
*designing and choosing the custom or edge to edge quilting pattern. Looking through the edge to edge designs (Pat has over 180) for your quilt or planning a custom design takes time and expertise of a longarmer. How your quilt is quilted will depend on how it will be used, who it is for and whether it is a show quilt or a quilt that will be used and loved. Pat will ask questions to determine what is best for your quilt and your budget. The majority of Pat’s quilting is custom design. Custom designs take more timeand depend on the complexity of your quilt pattern. Edge to edge designs, (a repeating design that is stitched the entire length or width of your quilt ) also called pantographs or panto for short, are more economical.
*measuring your quilt to give you an estimate. There is a formula used to determine the cost of the quilting. The quilting cost depends on what type of quilting you choose- edge to edge or custom. Edge to edge quilting is standard and Pat has many patterns for you to choose from (over 180 ). Custom prices vary depending on how the quilt will be used- everyday use quality, for show quality or heirloom quality.
*measuring your backing to be sure that you have enough for your quilt. Pat requires your backing to be 10″ larger than your quilt top in both length and width. Short backings are quite common and require the quilter to take it back and add fabric. Adding a strip down or across the center is preferable to adding borders around the outside edges. Pat will tell you how much to add and how to best add it. If you do not want to do this step Pat will give you the price of performing this step for you.
*check for quilt preparation
Is your quilt top pressed?
Is you backing pressed & squared?
Is your quilt & top free of loose threads and pet hair?
All of these steps take time. If you have not completed these steps , Pahave to take the time to do them and add to your estimate. See Pat’s Tutorial: “IS YOUR QUILT READY” before you arrive for your appointment or mail your quilt
*measuring binding fabric to be sure there is enough. Will Pat bind your quilt with a half or full binding or will you bind the quilt yourself?
*choosing the correct batting depends on how the quilt will be used and the size of your quilt. The climate where the quilt will live is also a factor to consider when choosing batting. Pat carries Quilter’s Dream Select weight batting for your convenience plus Hobbs wool and black batting. Or you may bring or mail your own.
will you need it washed? ( See Pat’s Tutorial “TO WASH OR NOT TO WASH”) “If you purchase it from me (with a longarm order) , I preshrink it for free” See Pat’s Free Tutorial “CHOOSING BATTING & PRESHRINK”)
*choose thread colors to blend or compliment your quilt (Pat has over 175 colors to choose from). We will actually drag thread colors across your quilt to see which one works best with your fabric colors. Some clients prefer to let Pat use her best judgement based on expereince and who the quilt is for.
*Cost estimate is written up for your approval. You will not have any surprises when you pick up your quilt. Pat will always call for your approval if there are any changes while working on your quilt.
*quilt return time-frame scheduled
*your quilt and backing (and any other extras) then gets folded and neatly hung on a large hanger to await its turn to be quilted
Now your quilt baby waits for its turn to be worked on…… Pat’s studio is clean and smoke free. Your quilt is respected, protected and insured during its stay in the studio.
All of this quilt preparation and receiving of your quilt needs to be included in the quilting process as it is part of a longarmers quilting day and a valuable step in the completion of your quilt.
If you do not live close enough to make an appointment, you can mail your quilt and backing to Pat and all of these steps will still be followed. Email and texting communication work well.
When all information is gathered, Pat will email you a written estimate that includes when your quilt will be returned. Pat can also text photos of thread colors on your quilt or you can let her choose for you.
Your turn to be quilted:
Mounting Quilt Top onto frame:
*Remove any stray threads that can get caught on machine hopping foot
*Check for stray dark threads on the back that may show through lighter fabrics
*Check for pet hair and remove so that it won’t get quilted in
*In some instances quilt top may need pressing if seams aren’t flat or in proper direction for custom or ditch quilting
*If borders ripple they may need to be adjusted- all ripples won’t necessarily “quilt out”
*Find and pin center of both ends and both sides of quilt top
*Quilt top is pinned onto leader
Mounting Quilt backing onto frame:
*If backing edges are not “square” and straight this step needs to be completed by Pat
*If backing has not been pressed, or backing seam is not pressed open, this needs to be completed by Pat
*Any stray threads to be removed so they will not show through to quilt front
*Check for pet hair and remove so that it won’t get quilted in
*Find and pin center of both ends and both sides of quilt back
*Quilt top is pinned onto top and bottom leaders (this is why we need extra fabric on the top and bottom)
Batting is removed from bag
In some instances it is fluffed in dryer to remove creases and fluff (poly batting)
Cotton and blend batting is rinsed and then dried for optimum shrinkage
Quilt backing is “rolled” into position on machine- backing seam is centered (horizontal vs. vertical)
Batting is centered, placed and smoothed over backing on machine
Quilt top is positioned and centered on top of batting and edge is lined up near roller
Quilt top is basted along this edge to make it square and straight across the top
Quilt top is basted down both sides to make them straight and square (if your longarmer binds your quilt you will not notice this step- if you bind your own quilt, you will appreciate this step as this is how the quilt is squared and edges straightened)
Section to be quilted is side clamped to keep it taught and straight (this is why we need extra backing fabric on the sides)
Machine is readied for each quilt:
A brand new sharp needle inserted into the machine
Bobbin case and needle area are cleaned and dusted.
Five major areas of the machine are oiled (some areas need oiling several times during each quilt)
All rollers on machine head and table tracks are cleaned and dusted for smooth quilting
**Edge to edge design (if needed) Is rolled out, centered and placed straight onto the table
perimeters of the quilt are transferred to the quilt table with masking tape
**Custom designs will have markings placed on the quilt top depending on the design
Machine is threaded:
Estimated number of bobbins needed are wound for each quilt
Machine is threaded and bobbin placed in machine
After all these steps have been completed, now we are finally ready to quilt your quilt!!! The time spent with you and the time spent mounting your quilt and preparing the machine to quilt are all crucial and necessary to achieve professional results for you and your quilt
Now it is quilting time!
The ultimate care is taken to ensure your quilt will look its best, whether it be for home use or for a quilt show.
Quilt is completed in sections by rolling the quilt to the next position. Each time the quilt is “rolled” it must be smoothed, straightened and edges basted. This is how I keep your quilt straight and squared. I also must keep any rows, lattice and block edges straight. Some quilts need extra fullness of blocks or borders worked in. As I work along I also watch for any opened seams, tucks or glitches. Many can be “fixed” but some need to be marked for hand mending.
Pantograph designs are one continuous line from one edge to the other edge of your quilt. I must hand guide the machine to follow the set pattern. No, I don’t just push a button and watch the machine go- I must visually trace the pattern, listen for thread breaks and watch for lumps and bumps on the quilt caused by bulky seam intersections, any uneven seams and sewing imperfections.
Taking your quilt off machine:
Checking front and back that all areas are quilted
Quilt is brushed to remove any lint & loose threads
Quilt is carefully folded and bagged in a clear bag for protection
Binding your quilt:
If you choose for Pat to bind your quilt it will be done while it is still on the machine. This ensures it is straight and even. After binding is applied, Pat will trim your quilt so that it is ready for you to hand sew.
All extra fabric and batting remain with your quilt. You paid for it, it is yours.
The only exception is when I mail a large quilt sometimes the excess batting will not fit in the box or is left out to reuce mailing costs.
Quilt Pick up or shipping back to you:
Another appointment will be scheduled for you to pick up your quilt. This is when you pay for your quilt.
Many times I am asked if I need a deposit- answer is “No. I have your quilt as collateral and I know you want it back”
If you have mailed your quilt, Pat will package it and mail it back (insured) to you after she receives payment via check or Pay Pal Invoice.
Funny story: I remember the day when a new quilter dropped off her quilt and asked me if she could wait while I quilted her quilt or should she come back in a couple hours to retrieve it…….