Tips & Tricks

Preparing Your Quilt for a Long Arm Quilter

Have quilt tops piling up? Do you have four or five years of unfinished quilts? New to quilting?  Envious of feathers quilted into someone else’s quilts? Own a basic machine that fights your free-motion attempts?

It’s time to hire a professional to quilt for you.

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Because you and the longarm quilter both want you to be happy with the finished quilt, Carol, a local professional longarm quilter, helped me put together a list of things for you to consider before you drop off your quilt top.

  • Let the longarm quilter know how will the quilt be used and who it is for.  A dorm-room quilt will be used differently than a special occasion throw or wall hanging. Your intended recipient may have built-in preferences.
  • Check that the quilt top lays flat and square, that borders are not stretched at the corners. You could end up with puckers and pleats, or will be charged for resewing borders.
  • Backing – know the size of your finished quilt top and ask what size the backing should be.
  • Batting can usually be supplied as a reasonable cost, or check to be sure the brand will quilt well on the quilter’s machine. Normally the backing and batting need to be at least 6″ longer and wider than the quilt top.
  • With longarm quilting, you do not need to baste the quilt.

Here are some other tips to get started with a professional longarm quilter:

  • Ask to see samples of the quilter’s work, or get a recommendation.
  • Expect to pay a fair price based on the complexity of the project, their experience and market prices in your area. Prices are usually per square inch. For an all over design, custom, pantograph, or heavy custom quilting, the price generally will range from .015 – .12 cents per square inch (length x width x rate = estimate of cost).
  • Expect a to be charged for the thread too.  Extra charges may apply for thread thickness, fine imported threads or silks, variegated threads or using multiple thread colors.
  • Find out how long until the quilt will be ready. If you have a deadline, make sure to allow time to attach the binding and label or check to see if your longarmer will bind your quilt (extra cost).

Also share whether the quilt will be entered into a judged quilt show. If you are intending to enter your finished quilt into a show or competition, tell the longarm quilter up front and ask for permission to credit them for the quilting portion of the work.  (Check the contest rules on listing professional credits)

Your longarm quilter may want to meet you at a quilt shop or at their home. Be on time, or call ahead if you can’t be. When you pick up your quilt, ask for improvement hints for your next quilt.

Hopefully you’ll find a brilliant longarm quilter like Carol.  With a great partnership, your quilts will go from beautiful to extraordinary!



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