Thursday, 12 January 2012

Long Arm Quilting

Now you in the US may not know this but we in the UK don't tend to send our quilts out to be long arm quilted.  Why is that?  I don't really know.  But my friend Katy sends some of hers out to be quilted and frankly, they look so good that I've been thinking of doing the same.  So  I wanted to ask you all what you think.  Have you had any quilts long arm quilted?  Did you have an all over design or custom quilting?  Were you happy with the results?  Any tips on sending a quilt to be long arm quilted?


Has anyone had a bad experience of long arm quilting?  Are any of you long arm quilters and would like to chip in with advice, ideas, suggestions, thoughts?


If you haven't, do you have any questions about long arm quilting you'd like answered?  Any questions at all, however stupid you may think they sound.  I have a long arm quilter on hand to answer them so that we can find out more and, when I send my next quilt to be long arm quilted (which will be a first for me) I will report back and tell you how I got on and answer any questions you may have about the whole process.


64 comments:

  1. I sent a quilt to be long arm quilted last year - first time I've done it and I was absolutely delighted with the results. It was custom quilted. When it arrived home all of the edges were trimmed away and all that was left for me to do was sew the binding on. Although it cost just over a £100 I considered it to be money well spent as I had spent a lot of time hand sewing and appliqueing the quilt and my own amateurish efforts would have ruined it.

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  2. I recently purchased a quilting frame and hope to load my first quilt tomorrow.

    Have you seen the blog Borderline Quilter? She's in Scotland but she does beautiful work!http://borderlinequilter.blogspot.com/

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  3. Haven't done it myself but some ladies in my classes have, and have been delighted with the results.

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  4. I would love to send one of my quilts out to be quilted but honestly can't justify the expense and just so I don't start anything here I think the costs charged by long arm quilters are justified they are simply out of my sewing budget right now. I would love to know how they use those wooden quilting pattern things though!

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  5. I have contemplated to involve a longarmer several times but I think three aspects have held me back so far. One is that there has never been a quilt in my repertoire that I thought would be perfect for longarm quilting, two is that I am very devoted to straight line quilting and personally prefer the look of it in most (not all !) quilts and three is that if I give it to a longarmer then I think I will feel that the quilt is not a result of my work anymore. That said I am sure there will be a time where I will involve a longarmer and will be perfectly happy with it. I just have to have the right quilt for it.

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  6. My first thought was about the cost, it is very expensive to do although I think they earn it.

    But Judith is right, it wouldn't feel like my quilt anymore.

    That being said I would love to have a longarm myself. I played with one at the festival of quilts.

    I wish we had the option to hire them like they do in the states. Then I could do it myself.

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  7. I had about 8 quilts quilted by the longarm quilter, mostly quilts that were gifted to others. My experiences are good, it costs quite a lot of money so I always go for over all quilting, custom made quilting is unaffordable. The price depends on the size of the quilt.
    The long arm quilter I go to now is open for suggestions on the quilting, which I love cause I don’t love dense quilting and the standard overall patterns.

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  8. I personally have never had a quilt long armed, but I know 2 friends who did, both had quilts with appliqué on, the first used someone with sense who advised custom quilting to really bring out the appliqué design and the second, well, she asked their advise as she'd never sent a quilt to be long armed before, they chatted over the phone and then when they received the quilt and saw the design they rang her and said they knew of the perfect pattern so she left it up to them, well they basically used an edge to edge pantograph and just machine over the whole quilt, including the appliqué......it cost a fortune, virtually as much as my other friends whose was custom quilted and when it arrived back in the post my friend was devastated, it was puckered, wrinkled and the appliqué design had been ruined by them quilting all over it......honestly it looked like something you'd find in a landfill site, when she tried to tell them how disappointed they were with the work they'd done , they just said you got what you asked for!!!!!
    So as in all things, there's good and bad in all areas, I wouldn't trust someone's reputation just because they are known for long arming, my friend used quite a reputable company, but I would go with a PERSONAL recommendation, use someone who's used them before and been happy and you can also see their work and decide if you like it :)
    Good luck :)

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  9. Questions : why do quilters want long arms? Or is that why they send them to people who do have long arms? Because they don't?
    Well my real question (from you to me that is - don't tell anyone else I asked) : what the hell is long arm quilting?

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  10. Rollieflex, I am nearly wetting my pants here, you are too funny. Long arm quilting is when they use a special quilting machine with a very long arm to quilt with. When we quilt on domestic machines, we move the quilt around under the machine. When long arm machines are used, they have the quilt stretched out and the arm of the machine moves around. Jump on youtube and type in long arm quilting and you'll be able to see it happening.

    I have a friend who is a long arm quilter and she always says that when you sew together the back for your quilt use a half inch seam instead of a quarter inch if you are sending it to be long arm quilted. I think it's because they stretch it so tight. I'd also take their advice on what kind of wadding to use - often they stock rolls of it themselves and it can be cheaper and more suited to certain kinds of quilting.

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  11. What a great question you have asked Lynne, sorry if this is my first comment on your blog, I follow you in Google Reader but this hit a Spot with me...
    I had a quilt quilted by a LongArm Quilter clsoe o my house for my son's 21st... not a good experience for my first ever quilt sent out to be quilted...I saw missed spots and crinkles and thought "What a lot of cost( $300 AUS)and for what"... saved me heaps of time but I was not happy with the end result and couldn't send it back as I had to have it on the train the next day... I begged my Dhubby for a frame to do my own... Worked out the cost of the frame and machine was worth 10 quilts... Asked my self would I make 10 quilts...yes for sure... we bought a local made frame and a Brother 1500PQS machine...I have since done 100 quilts plus... not all for me..I do for friends and some via the net....most choose all over stipple which I do a great price..(I can't justify the huge cost when the time to do one is minimal plus a finished quilt makes everyone happy)....I know your miles away but you will find someone close to quilt for you...or invest in a frame with some friends...so worth it...and easy to learn to use... such fun when you can do a quilt in a weekend...(if hubby is handy there are patterns to make a frame on the net to fit most machines)..one day I will buy a Gammil( dreaming)...but thats years away atm and what I have I am happy with... many Hugs Dawn x x

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  12. Thank you Lynne for starting this discussion... I dont know much about long arm quilting... I dont even know anyone who does it in India... Btu what kind of machine do you need for that? I asked my local sewing machine dealer about a quilting machine and he looked at me as if I had come right out of a circus! I saw you say something about a Brother PQ 1500S, Dawn... Can you guys tell me what kind of an investment is needed to have a long arm machine? And what should I look for in a machine for long arming? I can get the frame made here...

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  13. I am saving to buy my own frame as I have a huge pile of quilts that need to be quilted. If I paid someone else to do everyone of them, I would have bought my own frame by then. So that is the most logical thing for me to do. I make a lot of KING size quilts, and there is no way I am putting one of those monsters in my domestic machine.

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  14. I have considered it feeling daunted by the thought of quilting a mahoosive quilt on my domestic machine. The following has put me off:
    1) worried that my workmanship will make a professional quilter laugh. I struggle to get all my seam points perfect on the reverse and there seems to be a big thing about all the seams being presses perfectly.
    2) Cost. Fabric and thread etc cost a lot as it is without adding the cost of long arm quilting. Don't get me wrong I know people invest in the machines and are offering a valuable service but you have to have the money.
    3) When I looked into this a few people had written reports online saying how disatisfied they were so I thought if I ever did have it done I'd want a Long Arm quilter of high repute.

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  15. I've only been once so far, but hope to have a better experience this next time around. I made a special quilt and didn't want to ruin it, so decided to go, despite the cost. I found a LAQ in my guild and talked to her. We decided on a way to quilt my quilt and I met her later that week to drop it off. Three weeks later she called to say it was done, but she did it different. She never asked to change anything, she just did. I was sick. She did more custom work, which I never asked for, and then because she was tired of the rest and wanting to get done, did a cruddy quick job on the border that looked chintzy. I was sick when I saw it...but what could I do. I will not be using her again. =(

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  16. This is a great topic. I have never sent one out but I am thinking of doing it for a civil war quilt exchange that I have. I want the quilting to be striking and that will likely be beyond my skill. I hope to learn from the comments here. Thanks for the question!

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  17. Lisa : thank you for enlightening me as to what a long arm quilter is. And I presume the second part of your comment isn't for me as, I'm sure you can imagine, I don't know diddly about wadding.

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  18. I have had three done so far. The main reason why I haven't had more done, is the cost. It is worth it, but I still can't afford it. I am very happy with the three: two of them are quilte large siggyquilts. The third one was a design I sold to a quilting magazine, and to meet the deadline I felt I had to do it longarm. My fee for the design was about the same as the quilting cost, so maybe that's the way to go about it later :o)

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  19. I think I would use the service of a long arm, on a really special quilt, but the cost is just prohibitive for me.

    That being said, I agree with Judith in that it wouldn't feel like my work any more. Quilting is my favourite part of making a quilt, and despite being overly critical most of the time, I love that it's all me. I enjoy the process, but kind of wish I had more talent/space to do feathering, or other edge-to-edge FMQ designs.

    If you find anywhere local that doesnt charge an arm, a leg and your first born son, do let me know... I'm interested!

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  20. Ah Lynne - you've started something here
    I've thought about it in the past but the expense is the first thing that's held me back. The second is that the quilt in questions is a round robin with an appliqué panel at the top and there is NO way I'd let this be done as a basic pantograph, edge to edge design, as certain elements of the design could be picked out and enhanced.
    If I did reconsider going down this route I'd want to see examples of the quilters work, own and customer - check out order descriptions/notes for customers and compare/discuss the final result with the quilter
    There is also the issue of how clean and prepared (hanging threads, weak seams) etc that have to be sorted out to the long arm quilters requirements as well as any discussion with regards the squaring up, cutting and binding of the quilt, will the longarm quilter do this or do you want to do this.
    There are some check lists online - eg: http://www.jukeboxquilts.com/downloads/hints_longArm.pdf, http://wawaksquilting.wawak.us/quilttoppreparation/, and I'm sure there are more
    Another thing to bear in mind is how long it will take to quilt. Your quilt will be in a queue so if you have a deadline if it's a present, get it away early.

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  21. Great discussion! I have had several quilts longarmed with varying results but mostly it has been good, maybe because I meet with the ladies first face to face!
    I am looking after my SIL's longarm setup, it is fairly basic compared to some out there and I am still on my practice sandwich so haven't actually quilted a proper quilt yet but I can't wait to get started. I am just stippling free motion at the moment and I have a totally new respect for quilters who can follow a pantograph design smoothly by hand! When my SIL wants this back I will be looking into buying my own!

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  22. I have sent all my quilts out to be long arm quilted.....that is larger than a baby quilt. I only make a few quilts each year so I just save up for it. The quilter I use charges .018 cents per square inch and i get to pick the design. On my grandsons quilts, one was a race car theme and she found a race car and quilted race cars all over it. The other was a dinosaur theme and she had dinosaurs all over.

    I really think the quilting finishes up the quilt and I would hate to have so much time and money In my quilt and then I mess it up with my terrible machine quilting. My goal is to work on my machine quilting and I've signed up with a class.

    What a great post!


    My goal for 2012 is to machine quilt my next quilt.

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  23. I am looking at my double quilt right now and wondering if anyone in the u.k can quilt it for me and how much it would cost, do you know of someone in the u.k?

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  24. Lynne, I do longarm quilting. I love what I do and I treat every quilt with respect as I know the money and effort placed into the making of the quilt. Hand quilting, domestic machine or long arm quilting all have their place in the quilting world. You choose the quilting to complete the image of the quilt.

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  25. Hi Lynne,

    Ferret is a multiple award winning quilter and she teaches widely in the UK (and abroad). She is my teacher and has quilted many of my quilts. I cannot praise her work enough...she is amazing and will cope with practically anything we (her students) throw at her for quilting! She is very affordable and very approachable. I consider all the quilts she has made for me to be heirlooms. I am sure there are excellent quilters in the States too but why send quilts abroad when we have incredible quilters here like Ferret. You can check her blog out at: http://ferfab.blogspot.com/ and also she will be at Quiltfest in February and if you happen to go you will see her work 'live' and you will be able to meet her and talk to her.
    Take care.
    Amelie

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  26. Hi Lynne, I am a long arm quilter. I bought my machine almost four years ago. I was a prolific quilter and just couldn't quilt them fast enough, plus the larger quilts were becoming literally a pain for my neck and shoulders!

    I took me a long time, maybe a year, before I felt I was able to tackle a customer's quilt...I have a full time job...I have seen some quilts that were not well done by other LA quilters, and the disappointment on the faces of the quilt top owners.

    I do not quilt for others at this time because it was becoming too time consuming, and I had no time to piece or quilt for myself. I own a Handiquilter 16 and I absolutely love it. I will say that it is an art, in and of itself, particularly when creating a wholecloth quilt, and I have spent countless hours practicing, taking classes, buying tools, etc., and at times have become more fond of the quilting rather than the piecing aspect of the craft.

    If anyone has any questions, feel free to email me, post here, or at my blog and I would love to help you.

    I would be h

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  27. This is a great discussion. Like many other people have already said, money and a sense of it not being my work any more have put me off sending my quilts out to be quilted. However, quilting by hand or domestic machine puts me off making any really big quilts. I would so love to make some biggies!

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  28. I have never taken a quilt to a long arm quilter either. I have 2 concerns with it. First, obviously, is the cost. Actually I have NO Idea how much it costs, but it sounds expensive! Secondly, and possibly more importantly, I think if I had one done professionally, I would never do my own again! Then, what would I have to complain about, if not my terrible FMQ?? I'd be forced to complain about my piecing and that would be a disaster! I'd stop sewing completely and have to take up drinking.....which isn't cheap either! Nope! I'd better stick to doing my own!

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  29. It's funny that you mention our proclivity here in the US to send our quilts out to be quilted. I was just telling my mom that about 1/4 of the quilters I know , and I'm in a guild with about 135 members, actually quilt their own quilts. I live in a metro area where there are lots of long arm quilters.

    For me, I started piecing quilts when I was about 13 with my grandma and she hand quilted them for me. So, when I took it again a few years ago I wanted to quilt my own. I love it - the quilts are all my doing.

    I have had a few quilted, before I dared try FMQ. I went to an experienced quilter and the quilts turned out great. However, even if I didn't want to quilt my tops, I cannot afford to take them all to a LA'r.

    I have thought about getting a frame for a domestic machine from the Grace Company. Not nearly so expensive as a long arm set up from Gammil or APQS. I feel I need to learn how to quilt first, then I can upgrade "someday" to a specialty quilting machine.

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  30. I have not sent any quilts out.....yet. I have always felt that if I let someone else quilt one of my projects, it won't be mine anymore. Also, truth be told, I'm cheap.
    I'm currently working on a Swoon quilt, and I know unless I do QAYG, which I've never tried before, I will ruin it trying to force it onto my tiny machine. I would hate to spend so much time on a beautiful quilt and then ruin it. *Sigh* I'm torn.

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  31. I've never sent a quilt to a long armer. Besides the expense, I really like my quilts to be MY quilts. But I don't totally rule it out for the future.

    Many of my friends do use longarmers and my assessment of their experiences is you get what you pay for. The only time they haven't been happy is using someone whose price is very low.

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  32. This is so interesting as there are many days when I wish for a long arm machine of my own (when I priced them a year ago the whole set up was about the cost of a small car). I started quilting to do the quilting, not the piecing so I would not send one out unless I could not do it myself. I think there are a lot of talented long arm quilters to use if you prefer to focus on the piecing part.

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  33. This might sound horrible, but if you have never used a long arm quilter before, 'test' her by sending a quilt top that you plan to donate to charity. (Not that the charity recipient doesn't deserve a decent quilt, but if you don't like the quilting, it will be easier to give away.) And if you send a quilt top that you love and labored over for hours and then don't like the quilting - you will be heart broken. Good luck!

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  34. Well, I'm obviously spoiled. I've had 20-50 done but the quilting is a priority. It's not a quilt until its quilted. I'm not any good at FMQ. All over meandering doesn't enhance anything.
    My advice is since there are so many stitches with LAQ choose the softest lightweight batting for a more drape able quilt. Also, if your back has any direction at all, mark the front and back as to which is the top.

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  35. I happen to live in the US, and one of my friends owns a long-arm business. Before I upgraded sewing machines last year, there was no way I could consider quilting a large quilt with my machine. So after years of hand-quilting, I started sending one out occasionally. Tho it's hard to send it away and then wait, I have always been pleased with the results. I've done both overall and custom. Of course it costs to send out, but I love it that I don't have to baste(!) and my quilter sells the batt at cost, so that is nice. I just hand over a top & backing. I'd definitely try it once & see what you think.

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  36. I am in the US. I have quilted a couple of my first quilts with my domestic sewing machine. I didn't enjoy it. I sent some of my quilts out to be quilted. I loved them, but the expense was more than I could afford and I didn't feel as though the quilt was all my work. I bought a mid-arm (17 inches) and now quilt my own. I do pantos or free motion and love how my quilts turn out. If not for the long arms or my mid arms, most of my quilts would still be flimsies!

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  37. Hi Lynne,
    I am from the US and long arm quilting is popular in my area. I have had both custom and single pattern done. One friend has a computerized machine, so she just puts in the cartridge and the machine does all the work. It was a baby quilt and turned out so cute. My daughter's mother-in-law does custom quilting, and she does a beautiful job. I really like having the option, as I don't have space to set up frames for queen or king sized quilts.

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  38. I agree with Sharon. I have a long arm, and quilt for a few customers. If you have not sent out a quilt, ask around. Sometimes the quilter YOU like, will not be the one someone ELSE likes. Ask to see some of their work: custom/edge to edge freehand/pantographs. Some quilters don't DO custom, some dont' do pantographs. There are good long armer, some poor long armers and some GIFTED long armers. Its a case of finding one that fits what YOU want (not what she decided after YOU decided!) I will be glad to answer any questions, just e-mail me @ soccertxi at aol dot com (no spaces)

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  39. My machine is to small to quilt anything large. I send almost all my quilts out to be quilted. I've used a total of 5 - one was really bad, one was very bossy and condescending; the next did a great job but some times didn't follow what was agreed on; then there was the perfect quilter, but she wanted to talk politics, and her views were 180 degrees from mine. Last I found a great quilter, who always does things right, we talk about quilting and family. She does about 15 quilts a year for me. So, to moral is, to keep trying until you find a good match, for you and your quilts. (I don't "send" my quilts, I take them to the quilter.)

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  40. I have sent 9 quilts out in the past 2 years and have quilted a few.
    the long arm quilters have always done a better job. Some I have been ecstatic to see others, not so much.
    most of my quilts have been for children (baby to queen size) and 7/9 have just been computerized pattern quilting. they were actually the best. just pick a dense pattern. I found the 3 different quilters on ebay and have paid about $75 including shipping and depending on size. it was well worth the money. turn around time is variable (extremely)

    Except for very small quilts I will be sending all to a long arm service

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  41. I've had quilts long-armed - both all-over pantographs and custom quilting. Obviously the quality of custom quilting depends entirely on the operator, so make sure to choose your quilter carefully! Pantographs are cheaper and you know exactly what you're getting, so there are advantages to that as well.

    I only send them out if I need "special" quilting that I can't manage myself (which, admittedly, is anything beyond straight lines or stippling!) But I like the satisfaction of doing an entire a quilt myself, from start to finish, so I try to do it myself whenever possible. Good luck!

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  42. These posts are great! I used to hand piece and quilt but transitioned to the machine years ago. A couple of years ago I purchased the Bernina 440QE thinking that the included stitch regulator accessory would allow me to FMQ with the even stitches more characteristic of LAQ's. The results, after much practice, were ok. I, then, purchased a Juki 2010TL. Larger 'throat' space, straight stitcher, super accurate 1/4".....wonderful machine (and much less $$$$). I have done all my quilting projects on that machine and love the results. The largest has been a 'large' double. No problems or wrinkles! A "t-shirt" quilt I finished a while back was going to be quite heavy so I did it as a QAYG and the results were very good. I desire the end product to be completely mine so haven't sent any out to a LAQ. Have looked at the New English Quilter set-up and would go that direction if I had house space! My location is the US. Doreen

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  43. I'd like to know how they quilt the same motif (i.e. feathers) in different directions (i.e across the quilt and up the quilt, if that makes sense!) and get them so even...

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  44. Wow....quite a conversation going on here.

    I have a few articles about longarm quilting on my blog topstotreasures.blogspot.com.

    I longarm quilt for others and have a few pet peeves about it. (see the articles). The best advice I can give is get to know the person you entrust your quilt to. You are not obligated to use their services just because you talk to them. Feel free to walk away from their shop with your quilt in hand if you are not sure of them.

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  45. I'm to much of a control freak to have anyone else touch one of my quilts....isn't that a terrible confession.
    For me the quilting is as much part of the process as the designing and the piecing.

    I bought a long arm about two years ago and it will probably pay for itself. They do take up a fair bit of space though.

    Before I had the long arm I found myself trying all sorts of QAYG methods to avoid putting a huge quilt under the machine. It's funny but even with a long arm in my studio I still do a lot of Quilt As You Go.

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  46. I am put off making larger quilts by the thought of trying to quilt them on my standard sewing machine but the cost of getting them LAQ is just way too much plus I 'd be embarrassed by my shoddy piecing.

    I over heard a lady in a quilt shop discussing quilting her quilt for her and it really sounded like she would do a great job, she discussed all aspects, quilting style, threads etc advised her on what works and what doesn't with different patterns and she really seemed to care about doing a good job for her.

    Another thought is that one friend of mine was able to pay an hourly rate to use a long arm machine herself (after a training run) she was able to do a stipple pattern in a couple of hours on a king size quilt for a fraction of what it would have cost to pay someone else to do it. maybe this would solve the issue of not wanting the quilting completed by someone else and the high costs.

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  47. I have sent one out and will send more for sure. I had an all over pattern and paid the extra $35 for hand binding. She did an excellent job for both and I was very happy not to have to try and do all of that myself! If I ever do a really fancy quilt, I'd pay for the custom quilting. They can handle a bigger quilt than my little sewing area can and I love free motion looks but am not very good at it. If its a lap size or smaller and I don't need anything fancy I'll do it myself, although I really don't like doing bindings, sigh.

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  48. I am a long arm quilter in the US. I did a couple from Germany and England but found the shipping and currency exchange problematic. My suggestion to you all considering such an endeavor, check out the quilter's websites. I, for example, post all the quilts I quilt on www.webshots.com/user/victoriasews and anyone can visit and see exactly what I do. If a quilter will not show you her work, I'd shy away from her. If you can visit her workplace, do that. Check out what she has hanging on her walls. Be clear when you discuss what you want done. If you have applique, be sure to tell her you do not want stitching in it. Let her know you like tons of stitching or very little.
    I totally understand how disappointed one can be if you don't get what you asked for - the prime reason I went into business myself. I cried over the first and only quilt I paid to get done. I'd asked for lots of roses and got none and she had used a design one way, turned the quilt and stitched the other borders, boing right over the original stitching when she reached it. Aarrrggg! Find a quilter that loves to make quilts as much as you do. She'll listen better.

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  49. I've never sent one out to be quilted but I have long arm quilted one myself. Check around at local quilt shops. One by me allows you (after a introductory class that you pay for) to come in and rent the long arm machine by the hour (I pay $18/hr). Then you can come in and quilt it yourself and it takes much less time then doing it at home. Where I go provides the thread as well so you just need to bring your quilt/back/batting. I can't do any fancy designs yet, just meandering stipple, but they offer classes to learn more designs. Maybe somewhere by you offers this?

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  50. I had a few quilted when I was in Australia and they looked amazing. I would say if you are going to pay to have it done then definitely go for custom quilting. My mother in law made a noahs' ark applique quilt for my 2 year old and got it custom quilted and it is utterly amazing, definitely worth it. Long Arm quilting does seem to be so much more expensive in England though, I remember it being pretty cheap in Oz, blooming typical!

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  51. I have not. But I know a fantastic quilter who did and she said - while it was quilted beautifully - it felt like a quilt she could purchase at Macy's. It was no longer unique and the quilting was too perfect. I understand her feelings about it, but I also love the work that can be done by a long arm quilter.

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  52. I am a Longarm Quilter here in the UK in the Scottish Borders....take a look at my blog and my website....ask questions, any questions?
    I eill do pantographs but am stearing more towards freehand allover patternsbut my passion is custom quilting....I love quilting, it's the quilting that makes the quilt!

    http://borderlinequilter.blogspot.com/

    http://www.borderlinequilter.co.uk/

    Best Wishes
    Kay in Scotland

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  53. I know many people do so and love the results...but I like knowing that I made something myself, from start to finish, even if the results are less stellar than a long-arm-quilted masterpiece :) I *do* enjoy seeing such quilts, however; they are inspiring!

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  54. I have only just been down to a new Patchwork store near me which does longarm quilting as I would really like to get my "Swoon" quilt done as it is too big for me to handle. I have seen some of the quilting work done by them and it is lovely. The price quoted (approx $200 AU) was fairly reasonable for such a large quilt and I was given all of the information needed - ie make the backing at least 6 inches wider than the quilt top all round and use a good quality batting. So I would just suggest to do your homework and find someones work you like and maybe get a quote beforehand:)

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  55. I recently got my first 'big' quilt longarm quilted at the Bramble Patch. It looks fantastic! I do however love the hand quilting that I have done on my boys smaller quilts and I dont think that my £30.00 John Lewis machine would cope with machine quiling at home!
    For a special quilt I would recomend longarm quilting, however I am saving now so I can invest in a better machine to have a go at machine quilting myself at home.

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  56. Hi, I am a UK based longarm quilter and would also be quite happy to answer any questions that come up.

    I teach patchwork and quilting and one of the things I think you might want to consider before deciding if you want to send quilts out for quilting is what parts of making a quilt are you really keen on. Just as dressmaking and home furnishing are different skills so are patchwork and quilting. One person may like all these things, or they may only like one, and that's fine. I do have some students that are just patchworkers, the quilting phase does nothing for them, so they are ideally suited to send their quilts to someone else. On the other hand I have a couple of student who come to class but have yet to make any patchwork, they just don't see the point in it but love the quilting.

    Once you know how you feel about the quilting process you may decided it is something you can allow someone else to do for you. I would suggest that the more attached you are to doing your own quilting the more careful you are going to want to be in selecting a quilter to work with. If you pick a quilter with very different views I think you've got a good chance of being unhappy with the result. In the same way you may find some quilters who turn down your job, I've done it when I can see the piecer has strong views that I just don't understand. It's much better to have a good partnership than to just take what comes along.

    Find out what sort of work you quilter does. Do you want perfectly regular designs with the same number of stitches in each repeat? If so you want someone with a computer. Do you want a unique piece of work never to be repeated? You want a free hand quilter.

    You really do want to see samples of the quilters work. As I can't have customers in my house (where I work) because of insurance, I meet them at the local quilt shop. Having quilted many of the shop quilts I can usually not only show a sample of my work but exactly what I am thinking of for the top in front of me.

    Working long distance is possible, and actually I do quite a lot of it, but be prepared to spend a lot of time talking. The better you understand each other the better the resulting quilt will be.

    Many quilters list their prices on their web sites. Mine actually has a calculator, so you put in the size of your quilt and it tells you how much I will charge. Never be afraid to tell your longarmer that you are looking for a budget job. Hopefully they will then offer you advice on what can be done for your quilt in their cheapest range. I would say the exception to that rule is applique. Most of the time that needs more expensive quilting to look it's best. It's sad that some people will just put a pantograph over lovely hand applique, but there are so be specific about what you expect.

    Sorry I've gone on way too long. If there is anything folks would like to ask please feel free. Either comment on my blog or drop me an email.

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  57. My two longarm quilting by checkbook experiences were great! The results far exceeded my expectations. No way could I have achieved anything close if I had done the quilting myself. One cost much more than the estimated price and the other cost much less, but in both cases the cost was well worth it. Both of the longarmers are members of my quilt guild with great reputations and I had seen lots of examples of their work during "Show & Tell" at our guild meetings. So, I had little trepidation about giving them free reign to do what they wanted--they are both artist as well as longarmers soI didn't want to stifle their creativity. The only requests that I made was to not make my larger quilt too girly and I wanted the houses to stand out on my smaller quilt.

    Because of the quilters that I used, my quilts appraised very well.

    The advice that I'd give to anyone considering quilting by checkbook would be to not be in a rush. Also, talk to people who have used the longarmer and see lots of examples of their work.

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  58. I sent my first quilt to a long armer back in November and my second is currently on its way back to me as I write! I found someone who was recommended to my mom. So far I've just done simple, all-over designs and I've been happy with the results and the price. I think the biggest thing has been that I feel like my projects go so much faster and I can finish more quilts! It's amazing that she can do something in just a hours that would take me days! I plan on continuing to send large, bed-sized quilts off to be quilted, and keep smaller projects to do myself. Good luck!

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  59. Hi Lynne, my name is Denise & I'm a longarm quilter in the US. I just read all of comments in this post. I'm so sad to see that some of you have had bad experiences or feel that it is too cost prohibitive to use a LA'r.
    I have a Statler/Gammill Optimum. I chose this machine so I can accurately and quickly quilt with great results. It's not as labor intensive so my prices are very reasonable and I can finish most quilts in one day.
    The best tips I can offer are this: Ask to see examples of their work. No reputable LA'r would not have examples to show.
    Also, keep in mind that every quilter has varying talents and skills. You wouldn't go to a plastic surgeon for heart surgery; make sure the quilter can accomplish what you are asking of them. And don't be afraid to take your quilt elsewhere if you aren't comfortable with them. After all, you have invested a lot of time and $ into your quilt!
    Don't be afraid of your quilt being perfect or being judged. The right quilting can enhance ANY quilt and no one is perfect!
    One last thing...make sure your borders are applied correctly! This one tip alone can prevent disappointment with the end result!

    website: www.topsandbobbins.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=1822
    Blog: topsandblogin.blogspot.com/

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  60. I am a longarm quilter in the UK and I love my job! However, the process must be a joint one between patch worker and quilter...lots of chat and detailed discussions, cups of tea and sketchbooks. The result is happy customers and lovely quilts.
    However, as we are all different, quilt tops can provide a real challenge to us longarmers, so remember to attend to your pressing, ansd try to keep borders square for best results!
    People with computerised systems can offer lots of patterns and download new ones in an instant..they can also freehand too , so the end result is unique to each quilt.
    As regards pricing in the UK...most longarmers have invested heavily in machines,and time spent learning how to use it . It takes a good few hours, days and sometimes weeks to complete a large quilt, it does not just stitch out by itself!
    Talk to your longarmers and visit their studio...it really can be a very social and fun part of completing a quilt top.

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  61. I've done it once but it's not something I can afford to do all the time. I can recommend Chris of Father's Heart Long Arm Quilting though, she is excellent, very knowledgeable (it was the first proper quilt I had made!) and obviously the compliments I got about my work helped too!

    I know that Katy uses her services on occasion too.

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  62. Wow you have a lot of comments and I don't have time to read them all but I'll add my two-cents worth! My best friend is a long-arm quilter and so I use her a lot really. I've nearly always been happy with the results except for one occasion. The quilt did not have a lot of contrast and when it was quilted it lost any contrast it did have and looked quite bland. I think long-arm quilting is good for simple quilts which suit an all over pantogram, but I think more complicated/pieced quilts need either hand or custom quilting. It's very hard to find a custom quilter you like the style of to be honest. I'll just put the link here to my blog with pictures of the quilt with no contrast http://deb-robertson.blogspot.com/2011/08/trio-of-vintage-sheet-quilts.html

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  63. Some really great comments here Lynne! As you know, I have a table top frame that takes a domestic, I went down this route because I had 18 tops and no chance of finishing them in a decade! LA'ing was too expensive, however, when I compared the cost of 10 quilts to the cost of my New English Quilter frame, I was in a win win situation. 4 1/2 years later and easily 200 quilts, I have no regrets. One day I WILL have a long arm!

    I'm absolutely thrilled Tracey will be quilting for you, she is amaizing!

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  64. I have only sent one quilt out to be quilted (when I lived in the US). I loved the results, but as others have said it didn't feel like mine. I have quilted every other quilt myself. A few years ago, when the tops were piling up and my shoulders were seizing up, I bought a long arm machine. I bought it just after my father died (quite young) and I realised that if at all possible you shouldn't wait to realise your dreams. I love quilting on it (and on a domestic machine), and hope one day to quilt for others (if I ever get the chance to give up the day job!). In the meantime, I practise on my own quilts and those of friends who will let me loose on theirs! Someone else has mentioned that they cost as much as a small car - I justified the expense by not having a car!

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