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Forum > Quilters' Corner > To longarm or not to longarm ( Moderated by Sharon1952)

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To longarm or not to longarm
Pennsylvania USA
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Date: 4/21/12 9:42 PM

I just finished my third quilt top. Rather than quilt it myself, I'm considering having it done by a pro. I feel like I'd be loosing ownership if I turn my quilt top over to someone else for quilting. Longarming or even quilting on a home machine takes a whole different set of skills; skills I don't have. I'm afraid the recipient will be more impressed with the professional quilting than with my amateur piecing. Heck, I'm even afraid I will be more impressed with the quilting than the piecing. Was it hard turning over your quilt top the first time and did it get easier? Please reply with your pros and cons about having quilts quilted by a professional v. quilting on a home machine.

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Warbler  Friend of PR
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In reply to Elaray

Date: 4/21/12 10:06 PM

The first bed sized quilt I made was quilted by a local long arm quilter. I made the quilt for a friend where time was critical. It was not a hard decision to make and the quilting was beautiful. I was happy I did it. The second large quilt was a queen and I did not feel like my skills were up for the task so I again had it professionally done. However since, I learned to machine quilt my own. I have been on that quest for a long time and have done several quilts and with each one, my skills grow however I still consider my quilting skills rather novice.

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rtrittel  Friend of PR
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Date: 4/21/12 10:54 PM

I've been quilting for a couple of years now and have never had my quilts done 'professionally' - I simply stitch in the ditch and/or use very simplistic quilting techniques. I feel like you do, that I'd lose a sense of the quilt being mine if I had them done professionally. However, long arming by a professional is quite lovely. I don't think anyone would judge you for doing so; it is a time-saver and you know you'll get good results. Best of luck with your quilting!

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." - William Morris

Ginger S.
Ginger S.  Friend of PR
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Date: 4/21/12 11:07 PM

If you have it done by someone else, be very involved in the design. It's possible if the quilting is very intricate, the quilt may end up being stiff and unyielding.

A simple design should compliment the quilt, you'll want it to be soft and comfortable to snuggle under.

I hope this helps.
Kayabunga  Friend of PR
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Date: 4/22/12 11:39 AM

I've made lots and lots of quilts and have had them ALL professionally quilted by longarm quilters. I do not feel in the least that the quilts are any less "my creation." After all, we don't weave the cloth nor do we spin the thread. If we use frozen peas in our culinary creation does that mean we didn't cook the meal? What I would suggest, if you decide to have your quilt quilted by a pro, is to really consider how you would like it to be quilted before you contact them. Look around for "quilt motif" inspiration and go to the longarm quilter with some ideas (and drawings) in hand ... in other words, don't just hand it over and say ..."do what you think is best". Also, take some time to think about your thread colors. I've seen more quilts quilted to their detriment by using highly contrasting thread or just too much thread. In my view, quilts quilted with thread colors that meld into the fabric (thus adding texture rather than another design element) give the best results in most cases. And lastly, don't lose sight of the fact that making a quilt and gifting it is an act of love. If the recipient treats this gift as though it's one of the show judges in Paducah ... you're giving it to the wrong person. In other words ... don't worry about having your piecing critiqued and whether or not the quilting will outshine the rest of your work ... this is a gift from your heart and there is nothing that can trump that! That's my $.02 anyway.
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Date: 4/22/12 12:02 PM

I loved having mine done on the long arm. When I took it in, they patiently helped me choose the thread color so it would bring the quilt to life. Then they helped me narrow down my choices in design for the quilt. With nearly a thousand choices, getting it down to 20 was hard. I knew I wanted leaves on it and ended up with a lovely clematis flower and vines. It is stunning to look at.

In time I will learn to do this myself--but only on the wall hanging sizes. I was in class with another beginner yesterday and she showed us her first quilt she had done. She did all the quilting herself. In several places at center back, she pointed out the puckers. There were several of them. She said it was not easy to do this on her machine, but she wanted to try. She is braver than I am.

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Cat n Bull
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Date: 4/22/12 1:05 PM

My first reaction was that it WOULD be like losing a piece of ownership to my quilt by handing it over, but after thinking about it for a bit, I don't think so anymore.

And I still don't quite understand how the longarm machines work.

I have seen videos where the quilt is on the machine, a design is chosen, and the machine quilts it. That is not the same AT ALL as someone sitting in front of your quilt using their own hands to guide the machine and produce the design.

Quilting by a regular sewing machine takes a lot of manipulating in tight spaces, I find it frustrating and not nearly as enjoyable as creating the top. The challenge of manipulating all that material definitely has a strong influence on how big of a quilt I am willing to make.

If having it professionally done wasn't so darn expensive, I'd be starting off with much bigger quilts!


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Date: 4/22/12 5:21 PM

Imho, I have made a variety of quilts in all sizes. At first I had them all professionally quilted. Now, the smaller ones I have done on my machine. I just finished a lap quilt on my sm Friday. Are they perfect, no, but they are my growing experience. My dear mil spent $300 on a queen size quilt having it professionally done. Add in the fabric, batting, thread... it can be expensive. There are a number of techniques now available. If your sm has an embroidery capability with a harp allowing a 8" design, one can purchase embroidery quilting designs which quilts both sides then you just put the pieces together. There is batting now that only needs to be stitched about 8" apart, allowing for these designs. (no I don't have one of these machines, but Anita Goodesign has a number of these)

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TessKwiltz  Friend of PR
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In reply to Elaray

Date: 4/22/12 6:35 PM

The biggest quilt I ever muscled through my RSM (regular sewing machine) was just under twin-sized and I will never do that again. Yes, it was doable, yes it looked good, but it was an awful lot of hot, physical work positioning all that quilt. Maybe I'm just a wuss, but I found it exhausting.

There may be a longarm in my future, but not in this house and we're planning to stay in this house until we retire which is at least 10 years away.

If I ever want to make a bed quilt before I get my own longarm I would happily let someone else do it. But I would look very hard at the longarmers work and choose someone who would quilt it the way I want. The quilting should complement the quilt top, not overshadow it.


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Mufffet  Friend of PR
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Date: 4/22/12 6:55 PM

One thing about today's quilting is that it flattens the heck out of your quilt. You have to decide how fluffy you want it, or how flat - all that stitching was hard to get used to seeing after seeing my Mom's quilts, which were probably more what we would call now - comforters, and then in the later years - she sent them all out for professional quilting. Before the sending out era began, she either hand quilted them without flattening the heck out of them, or she tied them (she hated the quilting part) - you can tie your quilts still. So - it depends on the look you want. I am not crazy about todays flat as a pancake - quilted to bits quilts, except that I have seen loads of show quilts which really aren't quite the same as utilitarian quilts to me. Beautiful - and actually art, but not what I would toss on my bed. For a good looking quilt today you can stitch in the ditch with a walking foot, or "mirror" the edges if you want, but it is a lot of work as people have said.

Many show quilts are pieced or created by one person and quilted by another - they aren't really the same art. So yes, you can send them on out! I took way too many words to say that, I am sorry...;)
-- Edited on 4/22/12 6:56 PM --

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