My blog contains an enormous library of posts ranging from stories about my quilts to helpful topics about quilting. The how-to posts are filed in my categories section under the word Tips. One of the documents that I have been wanting to add to that library is my letter to my customers. The letter talks about the responsibilities of the customer as well as the longarm quilter (myself).
The post you are about to read contains the guidelines I have available for my new customers. Even if you have never contemplated hiring a longarm quilter the information within this document provides tips that even the home quilter can use. I hope you find this to be a valuable resource.
So you have decided to take the plunge. After much thought and contemplation you have chosen to hire the services of a longarm quilter. It’s not easy turning your project over to someone else. I am so thrilled that I am the lucky provider. I am confident you will be happy you chose me.
You Are Responsible
You are ultimately responsible for your quilts successful outcome. From the moment you select your fabrics and pattern to the minute the last stitch is applied you are in control of its destiny. Achieving a product that you are pleased with and happy to showoff means taking the time to carefully consider and execute each step. Don’t wait until your quilt top is completely assembled to address issues that might be small when they occur, but huge when left uncorrected.
Bumps In The Road
Throughout my many years of quilting I have encountered numerous bumps in the road. While not all of them were monumental some resulted in quilting nightmares. Since we are now partners in making certain your item obtains the best possible result I have put together a list of helpful tips. Some of them may seem obvious while others might not. Either way, carefully consider each one. I have included them for a reason. The following information will assist you in creating a project you can be proud of.
Questions or Concerns
If at any time you have questions or concerns don’t hesitate to contact me. You may reach me via email at cindy[at]inastitchquilting [dot] com or by leaving a comment on this blog.
Let’s Get Started
Now that you are ready to get started, here is my list of helpful suggestions.
- 1. Make Sure Your Quilt Is Square
For the best possible outcome it is essential that your quilt top and backing are square. Squaring up your quilt top does not begin when you have finished assembling your item. It begins with the first cut you make in your fabric. Care in cutting, stitching and pressing all play a roll in an accurate outcome. Make sure your blocks or sections are achieving the intended measurements. If there are issues address them immediately. Allowing them to persist will make assembling the components problematic. If you are unsure how to achieve this please ask for assistance or refer to the helpful tips included on my blog.
- 2. Carefully Press Your Quilt Top and Quilt Backing
A carefully pressed quilt top and backing will produce a much better outcome. As was mentioned above, a neatly pressed quilt top does not begin when you have finished assembling the components. Careful pressing begins before you make the first cut. Make certain your fabric is free of wrinkles before beginning. Stubborn wrinkles or creases may haunt you for the life of your quilt if you do not address them now. There is no amount of quilting that can eliminate those unwanted wrinkles.
Once you are certain your fabric is free of wrinkles you may begin cutting out your pieces. Maintain that crisp appearance throughout the assembly process. Pay careful attention to those seams. Seams that are ironed smoothly and accurately will help you obtain accurate measurements.
Make certain you not only press your components from the front but also from the back. Pressing from the back helps your seams to lay in the proper direction.
Before delivering your quilt to me make one last effort to press your quilt top and backing. It is up to you to make certain your quilt is in its best possible condition. While I may use an iron to press a few wrinkles that occurred during transportation and delivery I am not responsible for its overall appearance. Loading a wrinkled quilt on the longarm rollers takes no more effort than a neatly ironed one. The difference is in the finished product.
- 3. Seam Direction
There are many theories on which way to press your seams. From a Longarm quilters perspective it’s important to distribute your seams evenly. A conglomerate of seams at an intersection can create a lump in your quilt top. Lumps when encountered by the longarm hopping foot can create problems. They can cause the hopping foot to catch or hop off in the wrong direction. These blurps can interrupt and distort the flow of stitches. To achieve the best possible outcome make certain the seams in your quilt lay as flat as possible. A pleasing outcome begins with you, the creator.
- 4. Secure Your Seams
All quilts have more than one seam. Making sure those seams stay together is very important. In order to insure that happens there’s one simple step you can take before giving your quilt to me for quilting. Add a row of stitching 1/4” in from the outside edge around the entire perimeter of your quilt top. If your backing fabric is pieced as well add a row of stitching around its edges too. This row of stitching provides stability during the quilting procedure.
- 5. Strings or Stray Threads
Anyone that has been exposed to the art of quilting is well aware of the dilemma presented by stray threads. No matter how carefully you scour for and remove those pesky unwanted things it is if by magic that they somehow reappear. There have been times that I swear they multiply the minute I look away. No matter how diligently you look for and remove them invariably another one will rear its head.
Removing every last stray thread is virtually impossible. However, eliminating as many as possible is absolutely imperative. Unwanted threads can cause unsightly remembrances that will be a constant reminder.
Imagine this, you have chosen to not only incorporate light but also dark fabrics in your project. With both light and dark fabrics in the same quilt it is certain that they will end up next to one another. Light threads left underneath dark fabric may not necessarily create a problem. Dark threads hiding under light fabrics are destined to show through. Imagine your pretty white pattern pieces with a dark colored thread, such as red, glaring at you from behind the fabric. How disappointing that would be.
Make every effort to examine your quilt both from the top and from underneath. No matter how annoying or boring it might seem to spend time removing those stray threads, in the long run, you will be so happy that you did. Surprise threads peeking through your magnificent creation are much less likely to haunt you. I make no guarantees that threads left underneath your quilt top will not be seen when the quilt is finished. The responsibility for that rests solely on your shoulders.
- 6. Lint, Animal Hair, etc.
Life is messy. There’s dust, dirt, lint and pet hair surrounding us everyday. If there’s one place these items do not belong it’s on your treasured creation. Nobody wants to see their beloved quilt covered in superfluous litter. I, for one, don’t want to see it either. Before leaving your project in my care, please, please take the time to de-clutter the surface of your fabrics. A lint roller works very nicely for this task.
- 7. Size Matters
There’s one more thing you need to remember before heading off for our meeting; size does matter. Please make sure your quilt backing and batting are at least four inches larger than your quilt top, on all four sides. For example: if your quilt top is thirty-three inches across then the backing fabric and batting must be, at the very minimum, forty-one inches wide. Likewise, what ever the final length is of your quilt please add at least eight inches to that measurement.
You might ask yourself why this additional length and width are necessary. In order to quilt an item on a longarm quilt machine the top and bottom edges must be secured to rollers. The sides are held taught by clamps. The extra length and width are used to secure the quilt in place. If you are tempted to scrimp on the amount of added fabric, think twice. The closer the backing and batting are to the measurements of the quilt top the more difficult it will be to attach to the machine. Make them too small and longarm quilting will be impossible.
Now It’s My Turn. What Can You Expect From Me?
- 1. Safe Keeping
By the time you entrust your quilt into my care you will have spent a great deal of time and resources getting it ready. The last thing you would want is for it to be mistreated. I can assure you that your quilt will be safe in my hands. I take every precaution necessary to protect it from damage. The welfare of that quilt is my utmost priority. When you leave my home a part of you remains through your quilt. I would no more disrespect you than I would your quilt.
- 2. Minor Touch Up
At times it may be necessary for me to provide a minor amount of pressing. Transportation to my home can cause a few creases to set in. If that occurs I will gently press your item taking care not to cause harm. I do not, however, provide full-blown pressing services. If your project arrives in disarray I will not take the time to perfect it. As mentioned earlier, YOU are the person responsible for the quilt’s successful outcome, not me. Look at it this way, prepare your quilt for my services like you would prepare for any important occasion. Take the time needed to make sure your item puts its best foot forward.
- 3. Stray Threads
I know we have already discussed this topic but this time we are focused in my direction. The quilting process obviously requires the starting and stopping of the machine. Each time I begin I must anchor the top and bottom threads in place. Because of the anchoring, strings or tails are left behind. This anchoring technique will be performed numerous times throughout the duration of the stitch application. It is my intention to snip these threads before returning the quilt to your possession. Occasionally I may miss a tail. If this occurs all you need to do is snip the threads with a sharp scissors. If by chance you would prefer that I not remove the threads please let me know beforehand.
- 4. Small Holes
In Item # 7 above I briefly discussed how a quilt is attached to a longarm quilting machine. As you may recall, I talked of how the top and bottom edges are secured to rollers. To secure the fabric edges I may use “T” pins to pin the quilting fabric and the machine’s fabric leaders together. It is virtually impossible, when using pins, to not leave a small hole in the fabric. The holes left by the “T” pins will be contained within the area between the outer 1/4″ of the fabric. Because this area is between the quilts outer edge and the stitching line that will be created when you attach the binding, the holes will not be visible. The holes will not in anyway shorten the life of your quilt.
I have provided you with a wealth of information all intended to give you the best possible outcome. I hope I have answered all of your questions and concerns. If by chance I have not answered all of them please feel free to contact me. My email address is listed above. If there are suggestions you have that might make this publication easier to understand please feel free to share them.
I am so thrilled that you have chosen me to quilt your item. I look forward to providing the finishing touches you so desire. Together we make a wonderful team. If at the end of the process you are pleased with the outcome it would be a huge compliment to me if you would pass my name on to your friends, relatives and acquaintances. Nothing speaks higher of an individual’s work than word-of-mouth.
Note: The thoughts contained within the above document are those of Cindy Anderson and In A Stitch Quilting. Please do not copy them in any form without written permission.