Wednesday, January 16, 2019
The quilts shown are done so to visually display a particular result that may be encountered by a Longarmer during the process. It is not a reflection of poor crafting of any quilter…rest assured the topics discussed here are by no means uncommon or an indication of any skill level. Just as I spend time with Jack the Ripper so do many quilters to make sure their completed top and backs are of the best possible quality and craftsmanship prior to handing it off to a longarmer. The problems discussed may in fact not develop until the Longarmer is prepping the quilt. An example would be a short quilt, lap, baby, etc. A ‘pieced’ back may in fact be provided and because there is not a significant amount of material rolled up on the Take Up Bar…a vertical seam is a non-factor.
The contents of “Quilt Preparation for the Longarmer” (here on the blog and at wequilt.org) are by no means written in stone. To some it may not be complete, to others, overkill. It is, based on my experience, what many Longarmer's look for when they take in a quilt. Are we going to get everything, every time? No. We don’t live in an ideal or perfect world. So, we adapt, improvise and overcome.
In my case it all starts with the “Spec Sheet” or what others may call the “Intake Sheet.” Quilt Size, thread choice, pattern choice, per inch cost, etc. And there is the all important “Special Instructions/Notes” Box. Here I’ll make notes regarding whether the quilt may me directional and other quilt top/back needs. It is here where I record the loaded quilt measurements once it’s ready for stitching and for Edge 2 Edge once the pattern is laid out the measurement for the starting point for each row to keep the distance between rows consistent.
These measurements indicate the left and right side of the quilt and the benchmarks for keeping the quilt ‘square’ throughout the longarming process. Naturally if the top is wider or narrower than the bottom, some adjustment must be made as the quilt is advanced on the machine. But the goal is to keep it as close as possible to the beginning measurements. If one side is longer than the other that too is dealt with as the longarming progresses. I don’t think there is a Longarmer that wouldn’t emphasize the importance of a ‘square’ top. The same measurement across the top, middle and bottom, left, center and right. The back as well should be ‘square’ and the four edges even. Too often backs, when pieced, are not. This too can create difficulties during the process.