Monday, February 6, 2023

Quilting Dilemmas

Let me start by saying I really like machine quilting. I know many people who only like to piece tops, and I like that part too, but I also like to quilt. I have done longarm quilting since about 2005, but most of that time, I was quilting my own tops. Oh, I would do an occasional one for friends, but I was working full time, and quilting time was limited. The longarm I had then was not computerized, and was a lighter weight machine. I’m glad I started that way, although it had its own frustrations, because I learned a lot. I developed confidence in working on the machine and trouble shooting all the problems. 

After I retired last year, I upgraded to a bigger, computerized machine and started quilting for others. I found out there are still challenges. There is still mechanical maintenance that has to be done to keep the machine operating it’s best, there is a learning curve with setting up the computerized designs, there are customers who have a clear idea of what they want but can’t communicate it, and say, “oh, just do what you want”. 

Then there are construction issues with the tops themselves. I got almost to the last row of this one
and figured out there was a whole lot of fullness at the bottom. Everything had gone well up to this point, but I could not make the last section lay flat. I tried all the little tricks, but there was just too much fullness to work in. I measured the blocks and noticed two of them were a full inch wider than all the rest.

I could see where the fullness had been eased in at the top when the blocks were joined to the row above them. I was really conflicted about how to deal with the issue and had to walk away from it for a while. I ended up taking it off the frame, removing the last row, cutting down the two oversized blocks, reattaching the row, and reloading the top. I use the red snappers for loading, so that part goes pretty fast.

Once I got it back on the frame, it was easy to get the quilting finished. I know a lot of longarmers would have returned it to the customer and asked them to fix it, but this lady is older than my mother, and I didn’t have the heart to say anything. I hope I am still sewing when I get to be her age.

Another issue I run into at times is borders that haven’t been properly measured. Those don’t lay flat either. Oh, and seams at the end of rows that haven’t been backstitched. The stretching that happens when a quilt is frame loaded will almost always cause those seams to pop open. I could go on, but I won’t. Let me just say, most of my customers are wonderful piecers, and a few are darned near perfect. I think I am lucky to work with all levels of quilters because it is all a learning experience for me.

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