Longarm quilting is machine quilting using a machine that has a long arm and is mounted on rollers. The quilt, batting and backing are loaded separately on rollers. The machine is moved over the quilt layers then after a section is completed the quilt is rolled up and the next section stitched. We use a longarm machine made by Gammill. In addition we use a computer and software developed by Statler Stitcher to guide the machine for certain types of stitching - mostly when applying an all-over design or repeating a design in multiple blocks. We also guide our machine freehand for doing certain types of custom quilting. Our computer has stored over 400 different patterns but we can also design new patterns and store them to stitch. We'd be happy to work with you to design a unique quilting pattern for your quilt.
Is machine quilting accepted - shouldn't 'real' quilts be hand quilted?
When machine quilting was first developed it was not widely accepted. People with machine-quilted quilts could not enter them in shows and the art form was just not recognized. Now machine quilting is widely accepted. There are quilt shows designed to feature only machine-quilted quilts. Nearly all quilt shows have machine-quilted categories. People have come to recognize machine quilting as yet another art form - not to replace hand quilting but to be appreciated as well.
Why machine quilt?
Machine quilting provides several benefits. If a quilt is going to be used heavily and laundered regularly machine quilting will make it stronger. Machine quilting is faster than hand-quilting. Many people enjoy piecing and having finished products. Having your tops machine quilted will bring your projects to completion sooner and give you more time for piecing. Lots of people have a collection of tops waiting to be quilted and machine quilting is a way to get them done beautifully and more quickly. Machine quilting also provides the opportunity to apply artistic designs to quilts that can't be accomplished by hand. Machine quilting allows the use of a wide variety of heavy-weight decorative threads that can be used to add texture, color and design to quilt tops.
Isn't longarm machine quilting a bit pricey considering it's all automated?
The majority of longarm quilting is not automated. Longarm quilters spend a great deal of time perfecting their stitching before even starting to quilt for others. There is much to learn about how to run the machine, how to maintain it and how to plan designs that will complement the piecing. Even longarm quilters that have computer driven systems need to learn to plan designs, work the machine, etc. In addition to the time your longarm quilter spends actually sewing there is much time spent in preparing, loading, advancing and unloading. It's not quite as easy as the pros make it look!