How to Choose a Longarm Quilting Service

Are you looking for a longarm quilting service? Do you love the process of piecing quilt tops but when it comes to actually quilting it, the fun is over? Or maybe you are making a quilt as a gift and want to have it professionally finished on a longarm? Sewing and completing a quilt top is exciting. You put time into planning the design and colors, you cut pieces and sew them together. But now what? The actual quilt sandwich needs to happen. You could quilt it yourself on your domestic machine or find a professional longarm quilter for the job. In this article I will walk you through some steps in finding a professional longarm quilter.

Steps in Finding a Professional

Learn the Professional Longarm LingoL

If you have not had a quilt professionally quilted, you may have questions about some unfamiliar terms professionals toss around.

Manual Quilting vs Computer Generated Quilting: Longarm quilting can be manually generated by the quilter moving the machine across the quilt on the frame or the quilting can be computer generated and controlled electronically.

Pantograph: a graphic line design manually followed by the quilter or computer generated to quilt edge-to-edge

Free Motion: manually quilting designs flowing out of the quilters mind to her hands.

Edge-to-edge: quilting from one edge of the quilt to the other edge using a predetermined design such as a pantograph.  This design is then repeated until entire quilt is quilted. Edge-to-edge quilting can be manually stitched or computer generated.

Custom quilting: no edge-to-edge quilting here. The quilter keeps the quilt block in mind and determines designs based on the block and the quilt as a whole. This quilt could be free motion quilted or computer generated. There is often a lot of variety. Much time is put into the planning and completion of a custom quilted quilt. Once you find a quilter you trust, you can give them free range to create.

Semi-custom quilting: not completely custom quilted. For example, an edge-to-edge design could be used for the bulk of the quilt and custom quilting stitched in the borders.

Optional Services Provided

Most longarm quilters are very accommodating. You either provide the entire quilt sandwich (top, batting & backing) or just the top and get the other supplies from them.

Options to Consider: 

  • backing – bring or buy (108″ wide fabric or seamed 44″/45″ wide fabric)
  • batting – bring or buy (weight, content, color)
  • Stitch design – variety is good but too many can be overwhelming
  • thread (thickness, content, color)
  • binding service (by hand or machine)
  • turnaround time – how soon will your quilt be done.

Quilting Samples / References

When selecting a professional it is important to feel comfortable with and have a sense of trust with this person. They are after all going to quilt on your pieced top. The project you spent hours constructing. They need to exhibit the stitching quality you desire and they need to have good communication skills. Are you both on the same page? Do you have the same vision for the final project?

Vet your professional by asking for photos of completed quilts, including up close stitching details. If you are able to visit their studio, better yet. Ask to see samples of their quilting abilities. Also, a step many people skip, ask for references and actually take the time to contact them.

Happy Quilting! What questions do you have in selecting a longarm quilting service? Comment below…