Mary Lou, The quilting is perfect as always. Thank you.
You can make a difference by properly preparing your quilt for the longarm.
There are several aspects of the piecing process that will influence the final
quality of the quilt once it is quilted.
1. Seams - Each seam should hold together securely. If a seam pulls apart easily it could come apart upon loading onto the longarm table. This could lead to a hole in the quilt initially. It could also be caught by the foot of the longarm and tear the quilt. I am happy to say this has not happened to any of the quilts I have quilted. I have seen seams pull apart but have been able to avoid damage.
2. Seams again - Lumps can cause variations in the quilting pattern and even tears. Although this does not happen often, if a needle breaks while going over a seam it can cause damage to the quilt. The needle can directly tear the quilt or become lodged in the quilt and base plate of the longarm. Freeing the needle may be difficult and result in quilt damage. I have not had this happen either, but ask that you are aware of the possibility and together we can avoid this pitfall.
3.Fabric grain line - Fabric stretches the most at a 45 degree angle to the salvage. It stretches the least along the grain line or in other words the same direction as the selvage. Try to always cut your pieces so that the longest sides and or outer edges of a block are parallel to the grain line.
4. Piecing - Puckers and pleats can result in poor top construction. None of us are perfect and neither are our blocks. So with that in mind, there are three ways that we can cause irregularities in our piecing. Cutting, sewing and ironing each contribute to irregularities. As you improve on each of those skills, so will the quality of your quilt top. The better the quality of the quilt top brought to the longarm quilter, the better the end result.
5. Borders - Remember to cut borders either along the grain line or cross grain. Cross grain is parallel to the edge that was cut separating it from the bolt when you purchased the fabric. Don't simply cut a strip longer than the edge of your quilt, sew it on and trim off whatever is left over. This will cause distortion. The presser foot on your machine pushes against the top fabric and stretches it as you sew unless you are using a walking foot. That means the edge is now longer that it started out. Do measure across the center of your quilt in three places from edge to edge. Use the average of those three measurements to cut a strip for your border. Pin the strip at the start, end and several intermediate places before sewing it on. This will help to avoid wavy borders which may not be noticeable until it is mounted on the quilting frame. It then becomes a balancing act for me to try and work in the extra fabric and still keep the quilt straight and square.
6. Thread tails - Take the time to cut your threads. If it is not done it will take me more time doing it for you.
7. Pressing - The quilt top needs to be smooth and flat before quilting can start. This is another area that you can save money by doing this yourself.
8. Batting choice - I carry a range of different batting from white, natural and black in 80/20. It is often cheaper to buy the batting directly from me. If you want to use your own batting, it needs to be of good quality.
9. Backing - Backing just like the top should be seamed well and pressed flat. It also needs to be a minimum of 6 inches wider and longer than the top. The edges need to be square and straight just like the top.
10. Thread choice - I use Superior thread because of its high quality. The thread color can help to bring out or reduce the overall color impression of the quilt. Be prepared to offer your ideas and thoughts about what you envision.
11. Quilting design - Check out the patterns I have as well as the websites I can purchase new patterns from. Having a price range and general thoughts on design help me decide how to do the quilting, but it is also ok to let me decide if you are not sure.
First, most quilts look great with an edge to edge (E2E) or pantograph,
meaning the same pattern and thread run across the entire quilt. There are
a nearly unlimited number of patterns to choose from. I have many and most
are shown on my website. There are also websites listed that you can choose
patterns from which I will purchase if you like and split the cost with
you. Most are about $15. The cost is 2 cents per square inch plus a supply
fee of between $5 and $15.
Making the decision to have your quilt custom quilted usually depends on how much you want to spend. To be fair to you and to me, I charge by the time it takes to do the actual quilting. I do not charge for all the time I spend thinking about it, talking to you or actually making a plan. I often spend many, many hours contemplating, looking at your quilt, and searching online for the best plan. It also takes time figuring out if and how the plan can be implemented in a reasonable amount of time. All of the factors involved make each quilt unique and make it impossible to know how long it will take or therefore how much it will cost. I like to know how much you are comfortable spending so the choices I make will hopefully lead to the cost falling with in your budget. I do, however, want to be perfectly honest that I want so desperately to make your quilt look great that I can easily spend more time than I expect. Custom quilting is mentally and physically taxing. I cannot work nearly as long each day custom quilting as I can doing an E2E so I actually lose money every time I do custom quilting. The more intricate the quilting, the more I lose even though you are paying much more. OK, how much is it? Well 2-8 times as much as an E2E. You must be prepared to pay a lot and we will both hope for the total to be less.
There are two basic ways to accomplish custom quilting: Hand guided or using the computer. Hand guided is generally faster but less accurate. Curving patterns that are flexible can easily be used to fit oddly shaped areas and are more forgiving. Straight lines take much more time and are more difficult to do well. Using the computer takes more time because the area must be marked with the computer and the fabric can move as it is stitched, making the marks slightly inaccurate unless the quilt has been closely basted or stitched in the ditch which also takes more time.
The first level of custom quilting is doing an E2E but going around a specific area. One or a few applique or embroidered areas which shouldn't be quilted would be an example of this. This will add to the time and cost depending on how many areas there are and how intricate each area is. Quilting a border separately from the center of the quilt is also relatively simple. The center pattern has to have a straight defined border without overlap right to left or up and down. This allows the pattern to fit the edges of the center without leaving holes in the quilting.
The next step up is placing a pattern in each block, border, sashing, and corner stones, etc. The cost will go up mostly depending on how many of each there is. Fewer larger blocks takes less time. Odd shapes, curves, intricate applique and embroidery all increase time and cost.
You can either tell me how you want your quilt quilted or leave it up to me to decide. With that and your approximate budget, we can make your quilt shine.