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All quilts are special because they have been made from the heart by the piecer. They purchased the fabric, chose the fabric colors, used a pattern they liked, cut the fabric into appropriate pieces, and finally sewed them together to make the quilt top. There is time and effort put into every quilt made, no matter how simple or complicated it may be.  

First this:

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What a longarmer needs from the quilter:
1) A quilt top that is squared, 1/4" seams secure and ironed flat. It is best to use a stitch length of 2. Sometimes 2.5 can ravel on the outside edges of tops and backings. I've repaired a lot of quilt tops prior to quilting them because of a large stitch length.  
2) A back that is also square and at least 6" wider and 8" or more longer.  

Before I can start quilting I lay out the quilt to find the exact center of the top and backing. The center is marked by pins. This allows me to put it exactly centered on the canvas leaders on the frame that are also marked.


How is the longarm quilter going to quilt the quilt? That is the dilemma. I go to quilt shows and see what others are doing to be inspired. I also took the Quilt Whisper 101 class by Carla Barrett three times! Once live at a local quilt shop and twice more online. Her next online class is Fall 2012. She explains the process of how to look at a quilt and see different areas. Is the quilt masculine or feminine in tone, how will the quilt be used, etc. Her information and print outs have been invaluable to me.

More info on what to quilt on the quilt and why below the squiggle.  

Sometimes quilters want what is called "edge to edge" quilting. A pattern that is used across the whole quilt, side to side and top to bottom. In the quilting industry these are called "pantographs".  Some longarm quilters move the machine following a laser light on a paper rolled out on the back of the machine frame. Some quilters do "free-hand" or "free-motion" quilting across the whole quilt. It could be a simple meander across the quilt or a continuous design they have created. I'm lucky enough to have the computer system and program the machine to do the pantograph. I have at least 150 computer pantographs plus many other motif sets. No one tells you that digital patterns become an obsession too!

Here's the quilt I took the picture of above when centering and the pantograph the customer chose.  I like the movement with all the pieced squares.  
karens panto

The best time to use a pantograph is when the quilt is very colorful and busy. Here's a picture of 1/2 of a quilt that the quilter asked for custom quilting on. If I had done as she had asked it would have cost her over $450.00. I explained why a pantograph would work better due to all the colors in the fabrics and she agreed. It cost $180.00 instead and she was much happier with the outcome. Pantographs are the least expensive form of quilting. You still can't see the quilting because of all the colors! For me, it's always what is best for the quilt and not about the pocketbook.

Here's one that is space related with a swirly pantograph. I usually piece while the computer is working (or do the DKos Quilt Guild diaries!)
Nancy's Space quilt with pantograph

When the customer says "do what you want" is when the brain cells either fry up or go on a creative tangent. Below are pictures of some customer quilts (they signed a release) showing samples of quilting in different areas. The goal is always to accent the quilting to make it flow and give the eye some place to focus. Sometimes the quilt whispers what it wants and sometimes it screams! If I don't get it right, I will rip out the stitching to make the quilt happy!  

Let's start with borders and sashing.  Here's a border that is done freehand using rulers. Plain fabric using a nice design to give the solid fabric some movement.
Kathy's border treatment

Basic beadboard done freehand with rulers. I use this a lot when there's a really pretty fabric and fancy quilting won't show. It accents the fabric.  
bead board
Puzzle Quilt closeup

Here's an outer border done in a double cross-hatch using rulers and then the inner border using a computer motif. Linear and curves to balance each other.  
Border 2

Full quilt and then how I did the diamonds inside.
inside star

Another border treatment using continuous curves, loops, and straight lines for contrast and again balance.
Karen's Quilt Border
Full quilt.
Karen's 2nd Quilt

Simple ruler crisscrossing in the sashing and beadboard in the boarder on this applique Flip Flop quilt. Simple quilting so the emphasis was the Flip Flops.  
Pat's Flip Flop Sandal Quilt

Feathers in the sashing and a computer motif in the small squares. The goal on this quilt is to make the applique pop.  
Tulip Appliqe quilt closeup

Squares inside quilts.  Depending on what type of piecing and what space is available sometimes the whole square is one motif. Because of the white triangles and squares I was able to use a motif set. Curved motif in white areas, straight lines in blue areas.
Karen's Center Closeup
The full quilt.
Karen's Quilt

Customer appliqued and pieced square, using curves and lines again. Hand done feathers in the corners. Again wanting balanced design.  
Anita's Square Closeup

The full quilt with lots of feathers in the triangle areas.
Anita's Harriet's Baskets

Another customer quilt with preprinted panels and I did NOT want to stitch over the verses and applique that were important to her.  
Bible Verse closeup

Aleca's Bible  Verse Wallhanging

Squares with computer sashing and freemotion feathers. Because of the brightness of the sashing I made that pattern dominant.  
Barb's Closeup
Full quilt
Barb's baby quilt

A basket quilt with different baskets. Each basket square was quilted differently depending on what the fabric "told me" to quilt. But, it all blended well together and the baskets are what stands out.  
Basket Closeup 2
The full quilt.
Kathy's basket quilt

More curves and linear quilting to balance the square with micro-stippling to make those areas flat and the other areas pop.  Geometric ideas can work really well.
Maggie Sawtooth Star closeup
The full quilt. You can see how the geometrics make those areas pop.
Maggie's quilt

Background quilting helps the applique or piecing pop.  
I did free motion little bones because that's what this puppy asked for!  
Closeup #2 of Noreen's baby quilt
The full quilt. Each little square was done differently.  
Noreen's quilt for new grand baby

Customers antique panel purchased many years ago in Japan with THIRTY applique and hand embroidered squares. I wanted to do an extra special treatment on every single block. The background on this square is based on the drum.  
Kay's closeup #1

This one based on the umbrella.
Kay's closeup #2

I found a computer motif to put in the corners of this one sort of matching what she's holding.
Kay close #3
The full quilt with clam shells in the blue area and some computer motifs in some of the blue squares.
Kay's Quilt top from Okinawa

Feathers and how they can make a quilt! My own Broken Heart quilt that won a 1st place Blue Ribbon at a local fair.  
Broken Heart quilt closeup
Full quilt
Broken Heart Quilt
Feathers in the circle part with lots of linear quilting to balance it all out.
Closeup of Phyllis quilt
The full quilt. A really contemporary quilt!
Phyllis's Quilt
Feathers in the triangle areas and again, linear stitching with a little heart in the plaid squares to pull it all together. A really fun quilt to do!
Kathy's closeup

I'll finish this diary with pictures of more quilts I felt privileged to quilt and had a blast doing!
Fan closeup

Lynda's closeup
Folsom Guild Opportunity Quilt
A closeup.
Opportunity Quilt Border

This is one of my own quilts that I had a great time being creative with.
Blue Rays quilt

Thank you for reading this diary and I hope you enjoyed all the pictures and getting an idea on why I quilt what I quilt and what the goal is. It's to make them beautiful and compliment the piecers hard work!    

Schedule of Diaries

6/24 -- BeadLady
7/01 -- Florene
7/08 -- Oke
7/15 -- Chinton
7/22 -- Melanie in IA, unless someone else wants to take it
7/29 -- mayim

Originally posted to DK Quilt Guild on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 03:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA and J Town.

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