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Thread: What I see as a Longarm Quilter

  1. #26
    Super Member sew_Tracy's Avatar
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    I can only dream about being in your position!
    From the artist formerly known as Missus Fear...Hi, my name is Tracy and I am a hobbyaholic.
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  2. #27
    Super Member Gramie bj's Avatar
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    Your post is very informative. I have a LA but only do my own, I have enough problems with my own quilts I will never try to work on someone elses!

  3. #28
    Senior Member alisonquilts's Avatar
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    Great post! I quilt my own stuff on my DSM or by hand, and don't anticipate ever sending anything out, but I was fascinated by your article, and learned a ton of stuff that I will keep in mind as I piece. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

    Alison

  4. #29
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    You were in my house when I loaded that last quilt I did! Seriously, good commentary and I think the points you brought up are ones LA'ers get all the time. Thanks from all of us who LA!
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  5. #30
    Senior Member Jennie and Me's Avatar
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    As a long-arm quilter, I always stress the importance of accurate measuring and cutting, 1/4 inch seams and pressing. But then I always press a top(mine or a customers) before I load it on the machine. I float all of the tops, no matter what size and it seems to help with most wavy borders. However, I have gotten some tops that were sewn with anywhere from 1/8" to 1/2" seams with puckers already in the seams and to say those are a challenge is a mild understatement. Puckers will show up and there really isn't much you can do about it except try to hide them and most of the time it works. But you know what, the quilt still turns out beautiful and the customers end up happy and that pleases me. So far I've been fortunate enough to not receive a quilt that is beyond salvation. It's very gratifying to see pleasure in a customer's face or to get a thankful e-mail if it's by mail. It just makes my day!
    Oh, and I want to add the importance of the backing and batting to be at least 3" bigger on all 4 sides. Way important!
    Last edited by Jennie and Me; 08-04-2012 at 06:56 PM.

  6. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by quiltyfeelings View Post
    Sure wish the quiltingboard had a "Like" button like Facebook!
    I agree! Like

  7. #32
    Super Member jlm5419's Avatar
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    As a newbie with my 15" Bailey, I found your post enlightening and helpful. It was well thought out and logical, founded on experience and knowledge. Thank you.
    jlm5419-an Okie back in Oklahoma!
    http://according-to-ginger.blogspot.com/

  8. #33
    Super Member #1piecemaker's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the info. I'm getting my longarm soon.
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  9. #34
    Super Member Jeanette Frantz's Avatar
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    Wow, being a rank amateur, I appreciate all the information you have provided. I haven't had enough experience to deal with a lot of things, but I'm sure I'll either learn or quit trying to do something I'm not capable of doing! I prefer the "Learn" pathway. Thank you very much for all the information. In some fields, certification means something, but may not mean anything in others, and in LAQ, it doesn't appear to mean anything!!

    Jeanette Frantz

  10. #35
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    You have added some important additional points that are lacking on our website Hints page because I was afraid to offend piecers too much. I'd like to add good pressing to your list. I don't mind a little touch up but to take the time for the whole thing is something I need to charge for. Also on some machines even 3 additional inches can be skimpy. I have a thread cutter on our APQS Millenium and it requires a little more. Our side clamps will disrupt the stitching pattern. I have hemmed the edges of several 4-5" wide pieces of muslin for my own use, so it can be reused. I lay it on my backing and baste the 2 together for the additional width when needed (don't make a seam). If a client uses anything like this i return it. Also be sure your backing is squared it saves us time and you $$$$. I am so encouraged by your positive responses to this post and thankful to the originator.
    Last edited by Silver Needle; 08-04-2012 at 11:16 PM.
    Cheryl Robinson
    http://www.silverneedlestitching.com
    APQS Millenium Longarm with Intelliquilter

  11. #36
    Super Member AnnT's Avatar
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    This is information I didn't know and gives me an even greater appreciation for my LAQ, whose work I think is fabulous. Thanks for sharing.
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  12. #37
    Senior Member allie1448's Avatar
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    Great post, very valuable information for quilters and LA's. Thank you for taking the time I really appreciate it.

  13. #38
    Super Member jillaine's Avatar
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    I also see nothing offensive about your post.

    However, I am not fully understanding the problem with pieced backings. can you (or other LAQrs) please say more about why that's a problem? I've recently started making pieced backings. Should I not do that?

    Is this also a problem for people (like me) who quilt on a standard sewing machine?

    Thanks.
    jillaine

  14. #39
    Senior Member rush88888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crashnquilt View Post
    I realize I may well get blasted for this post BUT I just gotta say these things anyway.

    When the top and backing is loaded onto a quilting frame it is pulled taught, not tight enough to bounce a quarter off of it but taught enough for tension when rolling it onto the rollers and back and forth while quilting. If the backing has been pieced, this is when the problems begin. If the seam(s) go from top to bottom of the quilt, when the backing is rolled on the frame there is build up from the seam(s) laying atop one another that can AND will cause several problems from the longarmer. So if the backing has multiple piecing the longarmer is faced with multiple problems.

    Now for the top. Hopefully we all set the stitches then press seams to one side with an iron. We are taught to press to the dark or one side by setting the seam then flipping the top fabric over and pressing. Here is where a LAQ problem will arise. Make sure you are NOT pressing in a tiny bit of a fold. We've all done it. That tiny bit of fold, albeit may only be two or three threads of fabric, will raise it's ugly little head to a LAQ. Now if you have done this teeny tiny fold more than once in your piecing, each one WILL cause it's own problem.

    If you have a top like a pinwheel or kalidescope (sp) block there is quite a build up of fabric in the center of the block. You may have pressed, ironed, hammered, steamed, steamrolled, ran over, hammered more, and the like to flatten that center. Okay, it looked really good on your ironing board. Well, give that block a bit of a stretch. That center will pop up. It isn't that you may have pieced the block wrong, it is just the nature of the beast. Now a LAQ has to figure out a way to quilt that block AND have the center lay down. Please remember, the center seam of that block is THICK! When we go to quilt over it our machines may get stuck in the fabric. For most of us, the only way to correct this problem is to turn the machine off, turn the flywheel to lift the needle, then turn the machine back on. In most cases, this will appear as a skipped stitch. Worse yet, when the machine gets to the fabric build up, our hopping foot may not be able to clear the build up and kind of "push" the center to one side. Then we always face the problem of the needle breaking at the intersection. (I have learned the hard way to never quilt without some kind of eye protection) I have had to replace eyeglasses from broken needles that have put a chip in my lens right in my line of sight.

    Now about those wavy borders. The most common cause of wavy borders, whether cut cross grain of straight of grain is the cut ACTUALLY BEING ON SOME KIND OF GRAIN! If you did not prewash your fabric and set the fabric on straight of grain, most likely your borders are off grain. Off grain fabric WILL wave. We all complain about fabric "shrinking" when washed. Actually the fabric does not shrink. (no I'm not nuts) The fabric is returning to actual size! When fabric is made the fiber is stretched. After the fabric has been created, it is then stretched in pressing. The fibers are treated with chemicals to "relax" the fiber so that it will lay more flat. Then at the end of it all, once again the fabric is stretched to be rolled onto bolts flat. (I worked in a fabric mill for many years, this is why I know this) Now, I'm not telling you that you have to prewash your fabrics, that is your personal preference, but I will say I prewash all my fabrics before I start a quilt. Also, I do purchase at least a quarter yard more than the pattern for the "just in case" problems.

    So, for the piecers, if you want to take the time to do this, there is a way you can foresee SOME quilting problems. No one will be able to foresee all the problems. Make sure your top and backing if VERY WELL PRESSED. You need to clip all threads that may show thru. If you see a ravel problem, trim it! Once you have these problems addressed, lay your top (and backing if pieced) on a large surface. Carpeted floor works perfect for this. Give it a bit of a stretch and pin it. Stand up, back up, and give a look. Do you see any ripples? If so, you LAQ will have to deal with those.

    I fully expect to get some flack over this post. I am fairly certain most longarm quilters will agree with what I have written. But I know there are some piecers out there that will think I am entirely NUTS. For those of you that think that, go spend a day with a longarmer, you will change your mind.

    Now, about "certification" for longarmers. What I am about to say IS MY OPINION, like it or not. If a person goes thru medical school and BARELY passes the board because they really didn't study, they are still going to call themselves a Doctor. May not be a good doctor BUT people will go to them AT LEAST ONCE. If a person goes thru beauty school and comes out barely knowing the difference between a razor and pair of scissors, they can still call themselves a hairdresser. So, with knowing these facts, what is the purpose of making a LAQ get certified? Also, that person will be judged (or graded) by another HUMAN, leaving the results to PERSONAL CHOICE.

    Okay, I will jump off my soapbox now and go attempt to finish the quilt that is currently on my frame.
    i understand that some long-arms can be set on "auto pilot" while the operator can do something else. first, is this an option setting for a long-arm? second, what happens when/if there are problems that you discribe? does the long-arm stop itself, or does it keep going? this would be interesting to know.
    Last edited by rush88888; 08-05-2012 at 04:18 AM.

  15. #40
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    Seams in a backing:

    It may be that a pieced backing that needs to be lined up 'exactly' with the top might be problematical? Especially if it has to go in 'the not usual' way?

    For a backing, I was told to remove the selvages and to use at least a 1/2 inch seam. I don't remember if I was supposed to press the seam open or to the side for the backng.

    What about seams that are twisted ? End A goes north - end B goes south?

  16. #41
    Super Member whinnytoo's Avatar
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    From one longarmer to another,,,, WELL SAID!

  17. #42
    Super Member Cindy60545's Avatar
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    No argument here! So far I've only done my own quilts, however, one of the members on this board has a quilt in route for me to quilt. My first customer quilt! But, from what I've done so far, & seeing other quilts on other frames, I know of what you speak to be the truth. I know that from quilting on my longarm I've become more conscientious of my own quilting. Your tips & suggestions are right on!

  18. #43
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    Well stated. We all need to make the best possible top whether we send it out or quilt it ourselves. You have provided great quidelines

  19. #44
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    Your info is great. I am new to longarming & have my own machine. I am only on my 7th quilt, but I am already seeing what you are talking about with the seams & wavy borders. I am very careful to get my borders on straight with no extra inches anywhere & the last two have had issues. Not bad...maybe an extra inch in 70 inches, but enough to get my attention. After all, I thought I had it perfect. lol Another thing I have found....the outside seams on the quilt top really need to be backstitched. I have had more than one that wanted to open up. Because I am a semi-perfectionist, I have been cutting my borders 1 to 2 inches wider to allow for a seam disruption, but I know that most piecers wouldn't even think of that. I am lucky. It's my long arm & my quilt. I can do what I want with it.

    Another thing.... originally when I started piecing, I was very careful to make sure that a seam was ironed one direction all the way. Well, I have done a couple of quilt tops with a lot of seams & have found that if the seam turns it isn't as dramatic a difference as I thought it would be. And sometimes, you have to do it! For me that turn just seems to quilt right in & leave no problems. After some of these comments, I know that if I do a Kaleidoscope quilt, I will free motion all of it, probably making the center of these seam intensive blocks as a no-sew zone...

    FYI...being from the Deep South, I am a big fan of Warm & Natural batting. It is light weight, relatively easy to find & seems to "shrink" (I read the stuff about the stretching of the fabric..that was very interesting.) the same as the fabrics & the overall quilting looks good, even if a beginner does it. That slight poofiness it has does hide a multitude of sins. I have found that if I need a seam in the backing, I do try to do it offcenter, that way it doesn't compete with a block seam that might be right down the middle. I use the 1/2 inch seam & iron my seams open. There is so much to learn about long arm quilting that has nothing to do with the long arm. I am grateful for all these posts about the do's & don'ts & what works & what doesn't. Keep it up!!!!!
    Sew a Little, Love a Lot & Live like you were dying!

  20. #45
    Member needlefruit's Avatar
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    Way to go, Crashnquilt---very well said.

  21. #46
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    I, for one, found this to be very informative and reasonable. Sounds like an EXPERT - as in, "been there done that"! Thank you for climbing up on that soapbox.

  22. #47
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    A question - If a back MUST be pieced, would a pieced back with HORIZONTAL seams (i.e. parallel to the poles) be a better layout for the LAQer?

  23. #48
    Senior Member DawnFurlong's Avatar
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    Thank you for this very informative post! I usually quilt my own tops on my DSM - but I see this as valuable information for anyone. I may send out a top to a LArmer in the future - and it is good to be aware of what I can do to make my top better and less likely to cause problems. Very interesting about fabric and how it is made. Like and bookmarked!
    Dawn

  24. #49
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    Thanks for all the interesting information on fabric behavior. Now that I know, I will watch out for the above mentioned pitfalls.

  25. #50
    Power Poster Mariposa's Avatar
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    Great article! Thanks for sharing!!
    Be a blessing to others, as you may entertain angels unaware!

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