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Thread: Do Longarms decline in quilting quality?

  1. #1
    Junior Member Retiree's Avatar
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    Do Longarms decline in quilting quality?

    My friend has a Gammill that she bought new about 15 years ago. She quilts for people in her shop. I have noticed the last few quilts she has done for me have not been of the same quality. Could her machine need a tune up or is it getting old? Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. #2
    Power Poster Onebyone's Avatar
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    I've noticed the same with two LA's I use to use. Their work quality fell too low for me for the price. They have been quilting for others for over ten years. I think they are getting bored, no stamina, or simply can't see like they use to. I doubt the machine has anything to do with it unless the tension is messed up. One was letting her DH and DD do the quilting for her on many of the quilts. She said it was the machine doing the quilting so it didn't matter who ran the machine. I try to find newer LA to use. They put extra effort in their work and it shows.
    I believe giving what I can will never cause me to be in need.
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  3. #3
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    If the quality of the stitches has changed than her machine might need a tune up. If the quilting designs/pattern is effected than it is probably her rather than the machine. People wear out too.

  4. #4
    Power Poster ManiacQuilter2's Avatar
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    I quilted for other for almost ten years on my Bernina 1530. Besides the strain on one's physical body, it is also stressful trying to come with new ideas for quilting each quilt. It can become exhausting.
    A Good Friend, like an old quilt, is both a Treasure and a Comfort

  5. #5
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    She is providing a professional service and, I'm guessing hasn't lowered her price. You should expect the same quality as in the past. Since she is a friend, it's a sensitive issue, but you should bring it up, especially since it's been the last several quilts. If it's the machine, she may not have noticed. If she's just getting burned out, I don't think it's fair for her to continue to do sub standard work. Maybe it's time for her to end this particular service or train someone to take over.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
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  6. #6
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Longarms need maintenance like any other machine to be at their best. If she's gone too long without a service you should kindly let her know. Though she should notice on her own!

  7. #7
    Super Member sewingsuz's Avatar
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    I think this happens in other professions also. Like my SOL is a hair dresser and I don't go to her any more because the work is not what it use to be. They get burned out.
    Suzanne
    Asking a seamstress to mend is like asking Picasso to paint your garage.

  8. #8
    Power Poster Annaquilts's Avatar
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    Parts do need to be replaced and maintained. I would hope over time a LA quilter gains new skills not loose skills. Of course if her children or DH are quilting you should know before hand and be OK with it and if their skills are lower this should be reflected in cost. I sometimes try out something new, with their permission of course, on simple quilts of friends and charge them for a basic all over even though I do custom work. Another time they come in and want as cheap as possible they will get that, a basic all over. Did she maybe do favors for you in the past and now she is doing basic work because you are paying for a basic all over? If there are problems with tension or just plain bad work you should talk to her. It is also good to have a clear understanding of cost and what will be quilted onto your quilt. Even between friends a basic contract will help you get what you want and help her understand what is expected. I hope you are able to resolve this especially since she is a friend.
    Anna Quilts

  9. #9
    Super Member DianneK's Avatar
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    I am a long arm quilter, have been doing this for 12 years. We have our good days and our bad days, just like anyone else. If I see that my quilting isn't up to par, I simply stop, take a break, or if need be, wait until the next day.

  10. #10
    Junior Member Retiree's Avatar
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    You all have given me some things to think about. I had not thought of many of these issues. She is quite busy with family, so maybe some of it is distractions. Maybe I will broach the subject--just have think on it. Thanks so much.

  11. #11
    Member needlefruit's Avatar
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    I am a longarmer specializing in custom quilting---very few pantographs. As such, I can pretty much assure you that it is NOT the machine. Burnout is a huge factor, and being the perfectionist that I am, when I reach a point where I dread starting another quilt, it's TIME OUT. My customers are very understanding when I tell them they'll have to wait a while. For example, last year this time, I was quilting right up to the middle of December because customers wanted quilts for Christmas presents. No more. This year, I stopped taking quilts at the end of September, finished up the backlog at the end of October, and took a break. No more customer quilts until middle of January. I see no point in sacrificing quality.

  12. #12
    Super Member quiltinghere's Avatar
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    To answer your question about whether the machine may need a tune-up...Yes, it could need some adjusting and small parts do wear out and need replacing....BUT as far as them 'getting old' ... not sure on that point. These are industrial quilting machines that are meant to work for YEARS! 5? 10? 15? 20? 25? Who knows?

    I agree with everyone who mentioned that the LA quilters themselves have good and bad days; LA quilting is hard on the body; and LA quilters, unfortunately, don't have replaceable parts!

    I'm wondering what you mean by 'has not been the same quality'.

    Is it the stitch quality? Thread type or thread colors? Quilting design choices? ?????
    How have things changed?

    Besides possible issues with the machine or the longarm quilter personally, there are other variables that affect stitch quality. The type and quality of batting chosen along with the type and quality of fabric used to make the top and back also affect the quality of the quilting stitches.

    Have you mentioned any of your concerns to her? She may have more information than any of us can provide.

    Nan
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  13. #13
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    The other thing that can very easily affect anyone doing custom freehand work is stress.

    Stress destroys creativity. I had a friend's quilt this fall for close to 3 months. She gave it to me right after my DH's accident. The quilt was beautiful and right up my alley. I know that under normal circumstances, I'd have had tons of ideas. Instead I stared at it, doodled stuff and came up with nothing. Nothing at all. I finally broke out of it in early December and got the quilt to her this week.

    If your LAer is overwhelmed by how much work she has or other things in her life, she may not be producing the work she has in the past. Some of it can be compensated with by experience but this sort of work is relatively unique in that you need to be technical enough to be able to manage a machine temper tantrum effectively and quickly but also a creative who can envision then translate that vision to your hands to capture it on a quilt.

  14. #14
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    I have been following this thread and just have to chime in. This is an expression of my opinion for anyone reading this thread including the one who started the topic. Please be kind and discuss any problems or concerns you might have with services rendered with the longarm professional. It is not fair to them if you have problems with the service they rendered and will not let them know. It may be hard to do but is necessary if you are to continue to use their service or be their friend. I speak from experience as I do longarm quilting for friends and neighbors. Last year before Christmas I did a quilt for a dear neighbor friend. It was a Christmas quilt and I did a Christmas themed pantogram on the quilt. It turned out great and she said she loved it when she came to pick it up. About a month later at our quilt group meeting she asked to talk with me after everyone had left. She wanted me to know that I had put the pattern on her quilt upside down. Oh my goodness I was devastated, she was not complaining at all just wanted me to know so I would not do this on someone else's quilt. I offered to take it out and redo the quilt but she said it was ok and I also offered to refund her payment. I say all this to say that mistakes do happen. So be kind to these hard working quilters and let them know if you are not satisfied. That is much better than airing those concerns here on this public forum where nothing is accomplished with these discussions.

  15. #15
    Super Member madamekelly's Avatar
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    IMHO- these discussions do serve a purpose. They allow us to discuss the problem in a non confrontational manner, work out how to approach the LAQ in this situation, and also help educate each other as to what should be discussed and decided up front, and if we don't get what was discussed, how to gently tell each other when we are unhappy with a job done for us. I spent many years accepting low quality workmanship, and lousy customer service, until the wonderful people here encouraged me to speak up, and how to do it effectively. Not so long ago, if T had been your customer, I would never have told you about the upside down quilting, I just would not hire you again, if anyone else noticed the problem, I would have just told them what you did wrong. That would be so unfair to you, but I did not know that before, and because you took the time to tell us about that incident, you have taught someone else what to do. Sometimes some posts are not real helpful, but usually there is some point in each post that I can apply elsewhere. Not all of us grew up knowing how to be constructive self- advocates. I like our friendly debates. I always learn something from them. (steps down off soap box) Merry Christmas and Happy Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year!
    If you always do, what you have always done, The results never change. Change is the wings you give yourself.

  16. #16
    Super Member margecam52's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retiree View Post
    My friend has a Gammill that she bought new about 15 years ago. She quilts for people in her shop. I have noticed the last few quilts she has done for me have not been of the same quality. Could her machine need a tune up or is it getting old? Thanks for your thoughts.
    Could be a number of things...but, yes...machines need maintenance like any equipment. I do my own maintenance...at least once a month...I clean the tension assembly, I clean and oil the bobbin hook/race area (besides the light cleaning with bobbin changes), change needles every other quilt (more if I hear that Pft, pft of a burr on the needle). Every 6 months, I remove any removable covers and check inside the machine...they can get a tiny speck of lint/thread in them and wow, you just won't get good tension, no matter what you do).

    If the work is less than she used to do...she may be very busy, especially this time of year. My hubby is my helper...well sorta... I unzip the quilt from the frame when I have about half the first area done...if he says, "That looks really nice," I'm happy... if he says, "It will do," it's time to rip out and try again, lol.
    Hubby will lift the machine off the carriages for me whenever I feel my stitches in automated mode are not quite right. I then clean & lubricate the wheels, and clean the encoders & the poles on the frame.

    I do know that if you are swamped with quilts that have a deadline (holidays)...you tend to rush some. I didn't do that this year...I had a cutoff of Dec 15th (hubby's birthday). I got the last quilt done Dec 10th...and had 4 due after Christmas if I had to...well, three of those got done...and the 4th is on the machine...will be done Monday. In between, I've been monogramming scarves & a couple jackets. If you are not happy with the quality of the stitches, let the longarmer know...if you didn't tell her what you want on the top ("just do something nice."), then you are leaving the choice to the quilter. If you have something in mind...find and print a pic of what you would like...bring it with the top.
    Marge Campbell
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