Questions & Answers

Why does my wadding and backing have to be at least 4" wider on all sides of the quilt top?

There are a couple of reasons for requesting the extra width for wadding and backing.  

  1. The backing fabric usually has to be straightened to the grain, as no fabric is ever cut straight, and this can eat into the actual fabric supplied.  It has to be loaded onto the longarm rollers straight and then stretched, so any wonkiness could cause puckers on the back of your quilt.
  2. The longarm quilting machine's sewing tension needs to be checked before any machine quilting is done on your quilt - therefore there has to be extra fabric to do this.
  3. If the backing and wadding are not wide enough, it could result in the machine hitting the stretchers holding the side of the quilt taut.  If this happens then the stitching pattern could be compromised.

Why do you need to check the tension of the longarm machine?

Like any sewing machine, the tension is an important part in making sure that all the stitches are stitched evenly.  Different weights of backing fabrics, type of wadding used and even the quilt top fabrics can all have an influence on the stitch quality.  Therefore the tension needs to be checked on the backing and wadding you supplied to the longarm quilter.  This is usually done by quilting on a scrap piece of fabric adjacent to your quilt top.

I am looking for a specific design and can't see anything I like?

I can direct you to a number of different pattern websites and am sure that you would be able to find something you did like.  A lot of the websites have themed categories, so whether you are looking for something sport related, christmas themed, nature, modern or textured - there are thousands of patterns available to choose from.

Why are Longarm quilting prices expensive - being computerised doesn't the machine do all the work itself?

Using a double quilt as an example, it can take nearly an hour to load the three layers of a quilt onto the machine.  The backing fabric has to be loaded onto the rollers first, once loaded it is then rolled back and forward to make sure that the fabric is straight and the tension is even.  The wadding is then loaded, making sure that it is the right way up (yes wadding does have a right and wrong side - unless it is 2oz polyester) and then finally the quilt top is loaded onto a seperate roller.

Although the system is computerised, dependent on the pattern chosen, it can take more than 10 hours to stitch a whole quilt top with a complex pattern.  Once a row has been stitched out, the whole quilt has to be rolled forward ready for the next row to be quilted; the sides have to be stitched down and tensioned, the quilt top has to be checked for loose threads, and the machine realigned to sew the next part of the pattern.  This can add another 5 hours of work - so a large quilt could take over 15 hours to complete.  

A longarm quilting machine is an expensive outlay for anyone to purchase and a computerised system can cost nearly the same as the longarm machine.  There is also the cost of running the machine, maintaining it, spare parts, threads, bobbins, needles, etc.  A longarm quilter will also have put in many hours practising to use their machine and develop their skills.  This all has to be factored into the prices that longarmers charge.