Thanks for dropping by to take a look at some of my thoughts and ideals. Hope you will let me know if this has been helpful, useful, inspiring or whatever, and remember to come back soon.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Machine Quilting

I absolutely love my Longarm Quilting Machine.  Several years ago, right after my dear husband wanted and got a new bass boat, I told him I wanted a quilting machine and my search started.  I did my homework.  I visited numerous websites.  I talked to other quilters, at least I talked to the ones who were willing to talk with me, and I called manufacturers and requested information.  After all of this, then I wanted to get some hands on with these machines to see which one I preferred!  We, my husband and I, drove several hundred miles to Springfield, Illinois to the Machine Quilters Showcase in the spring of that year.  We went to the show and we walked around to every exhibit and I talked with so many people I couldn't remember who said what.  I was lucky I had my husband with me and his memory is better than mine most days.  He also has a long history of working in the carpet industry in maintainence.  The machines that make the carpet are in essence just large sewing machines.  A longarm quilting machine is in essence just a large sewing machine.  While I was judging the ease of use, the weight, the price and things of that nature, he was busy judging the quality of the machine and equipment.  I have to say that one company, and they make a fine machine, was tossed out of the running because the sales people just didn't seem to want to talk one on one to us and didn't seem to want to explain anything.  I figured if the sales people were acting like this, then how good would the service be if I had a problem.  If they didn't want to talk with me when I wanted to spend money, would they talk with me if I had a problem after I had given them my money?   I talked with each company about service, repair, and instructions.  I came  home after the show with all of my information, and the next week purchased my machine.  I advise everyone who is thinking about purchasing a longarm machine to follow this course.  Yes, I spent some money making the trip, but I think in the long run I saved money because I was very satisfied with my purchase after it was made.

Since purchasing my machine, which is a Gammill Classic Plus, I have learned so much.  I have never gotten tired of quilting.  I've never had to purchase another machine, and have had very few problems with the machine.  Now that I have written that I expect my machine to break down tomorrow.  My sales person has been helpful, but I have also had to call the main office and talk with the mechanic there on more than one occassion to get help with some minor problem that he was able to tell me, over the telephone, how to fix.  The people there have been very helpful.

I have been to Machine Quilters Showcases since then and taken many classes.  Yes this cost money, but each time I have received new and valuable information that has helped me to build my quilting business.  It has helped me to make my quilts much more meaningful, and helped me to be able to make my customers very happy with quilting that was meaningful to them making their quilt into a true "heirloom" piece that will be passed down in their family from generation to generation.  That is a feeling of satisfaction that not everyone experiences.

I recently took a quilt top to quilt for a lady who told me the finished quilt was for her niece who was in college.  She is working toward her degree in early childhood education.  The lady told me, I am so very proud of her, she's just the "apple of my eye" and I just can't even explain to you how much I love her and how proud I am of her.  We talked about the quilt pattern and using a meandering pattern to quilt down the background so the pattern would stand out and she said, "I'm going to leave it up to you, how to quilt.  You are the professional and I want it to look good, and I don't want to spend over _____ this amount of money."  I knew there was a reason I had immediately liked this lady.  I used the things she said to what we talked about to design my quilting.

I hope the apple that I have outlined in the center of each block
is visible in this picture.  It really turned out great.
Every block has a apple in the center, after all, this niece is the "apple of her eye."  When I decide to outline something, be it apple, feather, leaf, wagon, car or star, I frequently take a piece of chalk and draw the outline directly on the quilt.  After I sew the moffit, I take a brush and brush back and forth over the chalk and it will dust out.  I don't have to use any water or damp rags etc.  I do not use white chalk on black or very dark fabric, I'll use a darker blue or green chalk on those, and I don't use very dark color chalk on white.  Usually I will use white on white and can still see the pattern easily.

I used a simple quilt in the ditch method on the rest of the star and then meandering or stippling on the white background.  When I add special touches to a quilt, I've found I don't have to go overboard with special effects in every area of the quilt.  I just pick out particular areas and do the specials in those and then fill in the rest with standard quilting.  This is very helpful to the customer because it helps keep the price down.  When I do quilting like this I add a specific price to each of the special items.  It can be anywhere of an extra $2 on up to and extra $10 for each special item.  If I use metalic thread in a special item that increases the price.  If I change colors of thread for the special item that increases the cost of those items.  If it's the same color of thread that I am using on the rest of the quilt then the price can be very inexpensive for the customer depending on the difficulty factor.  The apple was a fairly simple item in the same color as the rest of the quilting so the price was very inexpensive.  The quilt had 9 blocks so the price multipled by 9 was added to the base price of the quilting.

The sashing around the blocks gave me a perfect place to
demonstrate the "apple of her eye" was surrounded by
love from the quilt maker.  What better shows that love
than a heart.
 I felt the sashing around the block would demonstrate the love with a simple pattern of what I call meandering hearts.  This sashing happens to be narrow so the hearts are just linked together and they are facing in different directions.  This really makes for easy and quick quilting and something of this nature really adds very little to the price of the quilt, but really adds a lot to the meaning.  One of my friends who I quilt for occassionally can always be pleased by adding meandering hearts somewhere in the quilt.  She just loves the love.  Another lady I know in advance will be extremely happy if I use pink thread.  Everyone has their favorite things and if you can pick up on those or get them to share what they really love it is easy to please your customers, and as you get to know them with repeat business you will become much more adept at pleasing your customers.

My last special on this quilt was the fairly narrow outside border.

The last narrow border is the ocean waves.
I'm a fan of old songs and old sayings that have great meaning.  "My love is deeper than the deepest ocean" is the real inspiration for this last border that surrounds the entire quilt.  I know that will have to be explained to the maker of this quilt, but I felt it just added a little extra and is so simple.  All of the quilting was done freehand with the machine.  I don't have a computer on my machine that sews the patterns.  No the hearts are not all exactly alike, and neither are the apples or the ocean waves, and those things are all part of the uniqueness of each quilt.  There are no two exactly alike.  Each is special in it's own way, just as each of my customers and quilting friends are special in their own way.  No two alike, but all uniquely special individuals.

If you ever want to discuss what quilting patterns you may want to use, or other ways to decide what quilting pattern to use, drop me a note.  I'll be happy to give you my thoughts, for what they are worth.  Hope you all have a great day, and remember, you are loved!

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