Friday, May 16, 2014

How to chose your long-arm quilter

While doing the binding on a quilt I recently picked up from my long-arm quilter, Teresa, I started thinking of the one thing I dread doing when we move to a new area. That is finding a long-arm quilter I like! When we were in Franklin I had established a rapport with a local woman who did amazing work, and took my tops there. Here it took me a while to find another long-arm quilter, and now I use her for everything. I was thinking of what I needed in a long-arm quilter, and what you should look for too!

Firstly, everyone has a different aesthetic. I am a patch-worky-modern-meets-tradition-kind-of-lets-see-what-happens kind of quilter. I don't do applique. I love the look of it, don't get me wrong, but when I am in my studio I have to be true to myself. So rule one is: Make sure your aesthetics jive. They can be an amazing quilter and have 40 years experience, but if you are both not on the same page design wise, you won't be happy as a customer and they won't be happy with the work they did on your quilt. I will admit when I take my quilts to Teresa, I tell her to do what she thinks will work best, because after 4 years I know we are on the same page and I will LOVE what she does. Along with everyone having different aesthetics, everyone has different experience. For most of my quilting, I want edge to edge. My quilter has a ton of pantos to chose from.

The quilting will add life and movement to your quilt, and yes, it can also kill it. When I first started quilting 10 odd years ago, I went to a lady because she was cheapest. It's not that they look bad, but they could look better. I have 1 bed quilt I made that has a meander quilting on it and the spaces are about the size of Texas. I also chose cheap batting for that one, which is a whole separate blog post.

Quilting by Quilts2aT Studio.

We all make mistakes while piecing, and I know that things can be "quilted out", so you don't notice your mistake. You know what else I found out? Things can also be quilted worse, and the mistakes can be highlighted.
So, look at their sample work. Check out their webpage, blog, etc. Talk to their other customers. Talk to them. I chose my quilter out of the 20-odd ones that work locally. I know all the local long-arm quilters do amazing work in their own right, but I chose the one who matched me the best!

Second, you should be able to talk to your long-arm quilter. Really talk. And listen. Trust. You hand over your tops, that you have spent a lot of money and time on. Did you sit down and let them know your vision? I think it is better to go in and tell what your overall desire is for the quilt, then pick the quilting design together, than to walk in there and say "I want this pattern with this thread and that's it!". But on the other hand, you should have some idea, if not concrete than conceptual, of what you want from them! Even if you just tell them your inspiration.

Evie with Teresa from Quilts2aT Studio. Evie has finished 2 quilts and loves to visit Teresa's studio!

Price. I would say don't worry about price, but know about what you will owe before you leave from dropping it off. I will also say if your quilter buys batting in bulk, check out their batting. I buy batting from my quilter because she carries higher quality batting. 

Another question to ask is what is the turn around time. Don't be shocked if it is up to 2 months! I would also say relax about time, you don't want them to do a rush job. So if you are doing a gift, make sure to leave enough time for the quilting!

Sew, if you are newer to quilting or just looking for a new long-arm quilter, keep this in mind! Ask others for recommendations. Check out photos of their work, and most importantly, talk to a few!!

Happy Sewing!


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