Five Things Your Longarmer* Wants You Know July 22 2019 3 Comments
Written by Deborah Krajkowski
*Hopefully That’s Me!
1. Stay Stitch Your Quilt
The first thing you should do when you finish your top (after giving it a good press) is to stay stitch. Yes, before you hold it up at show and tell at guild, stay stitch. Handling the top causes stretching (especially if there are any bias edges around the outside). In addition, because quilters don’t back tack on the edge, some of the seams may become undone. How is this done? Sew an eighth of an inch from the edge all the way around the outside of the finished top. That way the stitching is hidden in the binding and doesn’t need to be removed.
Example of a stay stitching.
2. The Back Must Be Bigger Than the Front
Yes, the back must be bigger than the front. And it must be bigger by a minimum of six inches (preferable eight) in each direction. (So your 50 x 50 quilt must have a back of 56 x 56 minimum.) There is nothing your longarmer can do to make the back bigger when it is smaller than the front. So don’t ask her. (Yup, people have asked!) If you have a back you love and it is a little short of the 6 inches, sew a piece of fabric around the outside to enlarge the back.
Whew! I am always relieved to roll the quilt to the end and see a generous amount of backing fabric. The red snapper is visible here and you can imagine how an inch or two is required between the red snapper and the cup foot.
3. It Is Your Quilt
You work hard on your tops; choosing fabric, executing designs, cutting up fabric, sewing it back together, ironing and so on. There is a lot that happens to get to the finish line. And then there is the trip to the quilter and the dreaded instruction, “quilt it however you want.” Whaat!?! It is your quilt, you may not want to pick the final design but you do have some preferences. If you want to be delighted with the quilting, spend a few minutes thinking about it. Do you like a curvy design on a geometric quilt? Do you like realistic motifs (likes ducks and bunnies) in your quilting design? Do you like dense quilting? Do you like the thread to stand out or blend? Share some of your thoughts so the longarmer enjoys quilting your quilt instead of worrying. Collaboration is a beautiful thing.
This is what four inches looks like on the side of the quilt. Notice how the clamp covers an inch of the quilt. The cup foot requires at least an inch between the edge of the foot and the clamp.
4. Quilters Are Generous People
However, it is likely your longarmer is quilting because it is her job, the way she makes money to feed her family or pay her rent. Most longarmers have a policy or waitlist for charity quilts. Be mindful and don’t expect her to work for free or at a discount or to put your project ahead of work for paying clients.
Here is my longarm with a quilt mounted on it.
5. Share Pictures of the Finished Quilt And Always Give Credit
When your quilt leaves the quilter’s studio, it is usually unfinished, at least unbound. What is more delightful than a pic of the new baby laying on the finished masterpiece? Your quilter may have a Facebook or Instagram where she shares her work and these pics are precious! What quilter isn’t excited to see a quilt in the wild? And always, always, always give credit for her contribution, especially if you are hanging your quilt in the show. It helps her to build her reputation and acquire more clients (and stay in business).
As a longarmer, it is my job to make your quilting dream come true, to take an unfinished top and add the final artistic touch. If possible, I will quilt out the flaws. I am part of your quilting team. So let’s work together and do this!
"Tilt A Whirl" by Deborah Krajkowski
"View From Her Window" by Deborah Krajkowski
Deborah Krajkowski is the owner/operator of Quiltographic, a home-based, longarm quilting service located in sunny Stuart, Fla. Deb made her first quilt over 30 years ago. At that time, she never realized how important quilting would become – artistically, socially and professionally. She has completed hundreds of quilts and loves all kinds – from traditional to modern to art quilts.