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Thread: What I see as a Longarm Quilter

  1. #51
    Senior Member collady's Avatar
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    I am glad you put your head on the chopping block for those you have no idea what you all go through to be a long arm quilter. I was very lucky in finding a person, who though was a fairly new long armer, was able and willing to give me information about what I needed to do before I brought my first quilt top to her to quilt. I love the work she does, and I let her decide how my quilts should be quilted. Only once have I told her what I wanted, and I explained why. She agreed that it would work on that quilt. Her quilting has gotten better over the years, and I know that I have made a concerted effort to send her quilts that don't have problems. I try to find backing fabric that is large enough to not be pieced. If I must piece, I try to piece the fabric to go across or use diagonal piecing. I know that not all problems that arise will be easy fixes, so I try to prevent them in advance. Yes, some people are not as considerate about the work of others as you and my long armer are, but some quilters are not either. Thank you again for sharing your insights and thoughts. You are to be commended not condemned for your information! Keep up the good work and be proud of your work!

  2. #52
    Super Member Enchanted Quilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whinnytoo View Post
    From one longarmer to another,,,, WELL SAID!
    Awesome Awesome Post!!!!Will post in my book I am a longarm quilter also for outside customers.
    Old Quilters never die they just go to pieces.!!!!!!I love sewing and have plenty of material witnesses. ......

  3. #53
    Super Member Happy Linda's Avatar
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    Thanks for taking the time to post this subject. How would we know all these issues unless it is mentioned. Quilting is more dimensional than we imagine if we've never completed it through the eye's of a LAQ. That's why we all LOVE "Quilting Board". It's a place to learn. And about that certification, It proves NOTHING.
    Linda

  4. #54
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    The original post and all comments following are very helpful. So far my backings are one piece but if I do need to piece it will be across not up and down. Would this be more helpful to a LAQ???

  5. #55
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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.
    Great post!

    But now I'm uneasy about the quilt tops I've made that have yet to be quilted. I can't possibly--don't even want to--hand quilt all of them. But as a beginner I now worry that I may have created problems that a LAQ may gnash her/his teeth over. Truthfully, I'm a little intimidated by long arm quilters, I think, and fear submitting a top to be quilted that may make her roll her eyes....or out and out reject it. I don't actually know any, though, so maybe I'll change my mind when I meet some of them. ;-)

  6. #56
    Senior Member QuiltingCrazie's Avatar
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    Very good post!!
    *Rachel*

  7. #57
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    I think this was a great post. I never knew about the backing. I have a question: I have read on here where LAQ are doing "Ruler Work". Can you explain what that means?
    Marilyn

  8. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by mme3924 View Post
    Great post!

    But now I'm uneasy about the quilt tops I've made that have yet to be quilted. I can't possibly--don't even want to--hand quilt all of them. But as a beginner I now worry that I may have created problems that a LAQ may gnash her/his teeth over. Truthfully, I'm a little intimidated by long arm quilters, I think, and fear submitting a top to be quilted that may make her roll her eyes....or out and out reject it. I don't actually know any, though, so maybe I'll change my mind when I meet some of them. ;-)
    I don't think this thread was meant to make someone fear even talking to a longarm quilter. JMHO... find a longarm quilter near you, take one of your tops over to her & ask her opinion about what she can & can't do. Get her to do something simple on it & find out what kind of problems you are having. You may find that you are ok. But, if not, then you will know what to go back & fix. If I were near you, I would tell you to come on over & I would show you how to use my machine & let you have at it. You learn so much even on your very first quilt.
    Sew a Little, Love a Lot & Live like you were dying!

  9. #59
    Super Member kathdavis's Avatar
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    Okay, now I'm feeling guilty. My poor long arm quilter. I piece all my backs like another quilt and she never complains. I learned a lot from your post.
    Kathleen

    Remember, people will see your quilts long after you are gone....NOT your housework!

  10. #60
    Super Member roserips's Avatar
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    Quilters "Piecers" as a rule need to learn what there long arm Quilters have to deal with and how to prepare there quilt for the for the best possible result. To many times I have heard oh don't worry about that it will quilt out... oh how wrong! Any problem you have in piecing magnifies as you go forward in your quilt. Please take the time to learn and take your time to do your best work, it will always pay off in the end result. Before you take your quilt to your long arm quilter take the time to ask them what they expect to have done or how best to prepare your quilt for them. Those that have been doing this for a while will have a check list for you, making the experience enjoyable for both of you.

  11. #61
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    Crashnquilt, Great conversation!!! You have said what many longarm quilters have probably wanted to say on here. May I add a bit (or maybe I missed reading it in your post) - Longarmers need a backing that has the edges even if it is seamed together, not one side an inch or two longer than the other. And, as said so many times before visit with your longarm quilter about your top and backing. She/he may enjoy the pieced backings and find that seams running both directions are not a problem. Twisted seams may not cause a problem, unless the longarmer is going to be doing SID. It really is a matter of the piecer knowing their quilter and the quilter knowing their piecer.

  12. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarLeClair View Post
    I think this was a great post. I never knew about the backing. I have a question: I have read on here where LAQ are doing "Ruler Work". Can you explain what that means?
    When you are piecing you have something on your machine to show where your needle needs to be to give you a 1/4 inch seam. It may be a special foot or a piece of tape stuck on the needle plate, but something to show you where to stitch. A longarmer doing "ruler work" is using a "ruler" ,usually made of acrylic that she/he lays down on the quilt top next to the hopping foot to guide the needle to stitch a straight or curved line of stitching.

  13. #63
    Super Member SouthPStitches's Avatar
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    I appreciate your honesty. Have only had two of my quilts LAQ'd and was very happy with how they both turned out. Just to get the quilt set on the frame before you even add a stitch to it, takes more energy and patience than I could ever muster up. Kudos to all the LAQ's out there for both your patience and your talent.

  14. #64
    Senior Member maryfrang's Avatar
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    As a long arm quilter, I also thank you for posting this information. Piecers always blam the LAQ, but some time they need to check their work before it comes to us. Most quilters call themselves "Quilters" but they are just Piecers, appliquers etc. Quilters are the ones who actually quilt the top, batting and backing together. They are the ones who make the sandwiches not the piecers. As LAQ we finish their work and they then own a quilt for themselves or as gift. Sorry I do not mean to change what you said, I really agree with everything, I just wish piecers did not think LAQs are aways to blame when their tops turn out wrong. Besides there are different level of LAQ, some are show quality and some are great for just quilting their tops for grandkids or using everyday.

  15. #65
    Super Member caspharm's Avatar
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    Good points made throughout the thread. I don't quilt for others, except for charity quilts and can definitely see the points made by crashnquilt. I have also worked at a LQS where they did LAQ for others and we would measure and check the quilts, sometimes things had to be taken apart or watched more closely when they were being quilted, especially if the quilt owner requested an automated quilt pattern (the main machine they used had a Statler Stitcher (Gammill) on it.

  16. #66
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    Thank you for addressing this issue. I send most of my quilts to a long arm quilter, and always appreciate any comments or suggestions they make. That's how we learn and get better results.
    Barb

  17. #67
    Super Member RugosaB'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.

    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.
    Thank you for a great post.

    I have a question:
    Did you include this part just to explain to us WHY a LAer has a problem here, or are you telling us so that this problem can be avoided?
    Other than pressing the heck out of it, is there a way to really minimize the problem? Or do we just need to understand it's possible this type of situation may not be perfect?

    Is a 'twisted seam' one that the seam is pressed one way and then midseam it changes direction?

    Again, thank you so much for taking the time to do this
    You know that feeling when you've finished all your quilting projects and your studio is perfectly clean???? Me neither.

    It's not how fast you sew, it's how well you sew fast! Wait, I think that's supposed to be MOW!

  18. #68
    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
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    I always take my quilts to the LAers. If fact, she called me last night and asked me which way I wanted my back to lay. I had sewn in a yard of different fabric in the middle of the backing. I told her to do what worked better for her and she said either way was fine with her. I have never had a problem with my quilts. They've always come back looking beautiful. I am one who gives these instructions to the LAer: do what you think will work best. And she always does a great job. Some times I have a custom and we talk about it, but I let her decide what to do with the quilt. I haven't had any wavy borders, I don't think anyway. I've never noticed them. And she's never complained. One time she charged me $10 for ironing and after that I ironed the heck out of my quilt tops. I felt bad that she had to re-iron my quilt. But, it had been at the LAer for 3 months, so I figured it probably needed to be ironed again. I cut all the threads away and pull the threads that are stuck in the seams. I turn it over and cut all the threads on the back so there's no extra threads anywhere. Now, she might have problems with my quilts, but she's never said so and like I said, they always look so perfect when I get them back. I must have a great LAer. I love her work.
    "Be yourself...everyone else is taken."
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  19. #69
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    Thank you! I am self taught so this helps me be kind to my quilter who never complains and is so reasonable I pray she never quits me!

  20. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcrow View Post
    I always take my quilts to the LAers. If fact, she called me last night and asked me which way I wanted my back to lay. I had sewn in a yard of different fabric in the middle of the backing. I told her to do what worked better for her and she said either way was fine with her. I have never had a problem with my quilts. They've always come back looking beautiful. I am one who gives these instructions to the LAer: do what you think will work best. And she always does a great job. Some times I have a custom and we talk about it, but I let her decide what to do with the quilt. I haven't had any wavy borders, I don't think anyway. I've never noticed them. And she's never complained. One time she charged me $10 for ironing and after that I ironed the heck out of my quilt tops. I felt bad that she had to re-iron my quilt. But, it had been at the LAer for 3 months, so I figured it probably needed to be ironed again. I cut all the threads away and pull the threads that are stuck in the seams. I turn it over and cut all the threads on the back so there's no extra threads anywhere. Now, she might have problems with my quilts, but she's never said so and like I said, they always look so perfect when I get them back. I must have a great LAer. I love her work.
    Sounds like you've done an excellent job of preparing the top -

  21. #71
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    thank you for the terrific post! i appreciate both the information and the honesty.
    Nancy in western NY
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    T is it True? H is it Helpful? I is it Inspiring? N is it Necessary? K is it Kind?


  22. #72
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    Wink Just a couple of my own insights as a professional laq

    Everything by crashnquilt is right on. I would add that if you DO NOT measure your pieced top BEFORE adding borders, it's not going to be square. There are instructions for measuring, cutting and adding borders if you will search for it on internet or on some of the quilt websites. This will assure that you have a square quilt UNLESS it is so really crooked from your piecing that there's no hope for it. If it's not too crooked, it will quilt out from being taut on the quilt frame. Also, if you have piano keys on the outside border or 4 patches, you really need to stay stitch about 1/8 inch around the top to help hold those stitches together because the frame keeps those edges taut as it is being quilted.

    As for the backing with several or even two pieces of fabric, pieces are ok for me on my longarm as long as you do not have to have it centered. You cannot get it exact because the frame will keep the backing taut as you quilt, you cannot see the back as you are quilting AND since you are using two or more pieces of fabrics (they may be across grain on one and with grain on other or two different brands will stretch differently) they are going to stretch different ways.

    Also if you absolutely have to piece the back, don't have a seam close to the edge because if it does stretch in one spot more than another, it could end up in the binding area of the quilt edge and it doesn't look so good to have a one inch strip on the top edge and a 1 and a half or 2 inch strip at the bottom. So if you must piece, make the piece closer in on your fabric pieces. For instance, instead of having a 45 inch piece that is 42 inches of one fabric sewed to a 3 inch piece of another fabric, make two pieces maybe 27 inches and 18 inches, so it won't show up as much on the back when finished.

    One more tidbit before I get off my soapbox, when we have to cut off your selvage on your backing, that takes time and therefore money on our part. If you do not cut off the selvage, it has no "give" to it like the rest of the fabric and will cause uneveness on the sides or top/bottom. If you leave it on where you seam the pieces together, and we have to trim it off, sometimes we have to sew another seam for it to be enough to hold together. Again, time is money and sometimes it is a thin line between profit and loss.

    As for the post about how the "laq's always do a great job and we are always happy with our quilts", you may have a longarmer that has stressed out for hours or even days over how to make it look good, not to mention that my husband has a well worn place under the bed where he hides when he hears that certain squeak and squeal and arrrrrrgggggghhh.....lol and sometimes we want to keep our business going so we try our best and don't tell you everything. I have been extremely fortunate with no big problems!!!!

    Now that I have scared off all the newbies and some seasoned ones too, go see that longarmer and talk to them, the more ya'll know about each other, the happier you will be!!

  23. #73
    Super Member Pat G's Avatar
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    I printed your post to keep as a "lesson" on how to prepare my top for a LAQ. Thanks so much for the details. Don't feel defensive about it since this was all based on your experiences.
    Thanks again.
    Pat

  24. #74
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    The auto pilot on my longarm does NOT stop if it runs across a problem, I can sit close and sew or stand close but I watch mostly and listen for sounds that are different and can stop it if something is going on. I will not leave the room.

  25. #75
    Junior Member quiltnutt's Avatar
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    Excellent post..I an going to add my 2 cents.
    I am also a LAer and my biggest chant 'The LA can quilt it out'...No we can't quilt out hills,valleys,C and D cups,wavy borders or borders that are 4 inches too big'.

    The backing is too small....I advised my custs that the backing has to be 6 inches bigger than the top so I can pin it on the rollers and have room to center the quilt.

    Inferior batting...I refused to use cheap batting,it tears,stretches,has lumps and bumps that will not quilt out. I carry good bat and sell it to my cust for a reasonable price.

    Talk to us on how you want your quilt done..If you tell the LAer to do what she wants...don't get upset. YOU gave her permission to do what she wanted. If you do not tell us,you can't go on quilting forums and say the LAer ruined your quilt. it is YOUR job to tell us what you want..so really think about it before you blame the LAer.

    Please do not expect custom quilting with a zillion thread changes and want it for edge to edge prices. It take alot of time to customize a quilt,plan out the pattern and bury threads. I do alot of custom and it takes weeks or longer to a quilt show quality job.
    Pat, Lover of Art Deco and Applique
    www.BobbinKnobbins.com

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