By Valorie Borque
Quilter’s often say ‘The quilting makes the Quilt.’ The pieced top can be perfectly or not perfectly sewn. But after it is put together with the backing and batting and quilted with the ideal pattern, it can become spectacular. “The quilting makes the quilt.”
There was a time, perhaps your grandmother’s time, when all piecing and quilting was done by hand. In less than 50 years, quilting went from being unacceptable if machine pieced/quilted to being rare to have something hand pieced and hand quilted. As little as 15 years ago some quilt shows did not allow anything but hand quilted tops to be judged. It took several years of showing expertly machine-quilted tops before machine quilting was accepted.
Bernina of America was instrumental in leading the way to the acceptance of machine-quilted tops in juried quilt shows. Recently, a quilt guild mentioned that their “Opportunity Quilt” was completed by machine because there are no longer enough hand quilters to complete the process. Yes, hand quilting is rare.
It’s the evolution of technology for sewing machines that make it possible to quickly and beautifully machine piece and quilt. It’s not unusual for a home quilter, non-professional to own a lite version of ‘long arm’ machine. Long arm machines have a throat’ or opening as small as 12” to as large as 30.” The commercial long arm machines can be even larger.
Almost every Long Arm Quilter will say they began by wanting to create beautiful designs for themselves. What started out as quilting for themselves quickly grew into quilting for friends, and friends of friends, and eventually a cottage industry is born. In almost every community where there are quilters, there are a couple of Long Arm Quilters who will magically transform the ordinary into extraordinary.
Each Long Arm Quilter has their own requirements for how they want to receive a quilt top. Julie Dahl, Long Arm Quilter, in Redding says there are some key preparations when bringing your top to a Long Arm Quilter. Certainly you need to have a discussion with your quilter about what you like, who the quilt is for, and what color thread you’d like used.
Here are the basics when bringing your quilt top to a Long Arm Quilter.
1. Do not pin anything or you might be charged for the time/effort to take out all the pins.2. Press all your seams
3. Clip all your threads
4. Square up your quilt top
5. Make sure there are 4” extra of batting and backing all around. This is because the quilt is put on to the machine and needs ‘lead’ fabric.
6. Discuss the color of thread, what you may like, the pattern you may like and understand expectations
By preparing your quilt for your Long Arm Quilter you are sure to avoid disappointment. Once the quilting is done…it really isn’t feasible to ‘unquilt’ like we often have to ‘unsew’ a seam or two. In choosing a Long Arm Quilter, look at the work he/she has done, and most Long Arm Quilters obtain their work through referrals. As the pictures of these quilts prove…”Quilting Make’s the Quilt.”