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LA 14 - Don't Be Seduced By The Dark Side!!
This is the thirteenth newsletter in a series of over thirty on "Getting The Most Out Of Your Longarming Dollar." That was the title of one of Ruth's talks at Shipshewana's Schoolhouse training sessions during their Quiltfest.
The purposes of those talks and these newsletters are to:
  • Allow you to get the best quilting results;
  • Have you end up with a work of art of which you are proud;
  • Anticipate the needs of your longarmer; and,
  • Make the longarming process easier on your longarmer so that they may focus on the quality of their craftsmanship.
Prior emails in this series can be found on our web-site: on the tab newsletters.
What Is The Dark Side?
I love Star Wars! It has the constant play between good and evil [The Dark Side]. Well, there is a dark side in quilting. I see it as dark or complex backing material.
When I took my first longarm class from Loretta Benedict [founder of Accomplish Quilting]. She mentioned that if you could not get good tension on the back, then use dark or busy fabric so that no one will be able to see your stitches. Our equivalent observation is when we to need to rip the stitching out of a black back that was stitched with black thread and the stitching pattern caused double stitching - Yuck!
I love plain backs.

I love to see the stitching. I love to see the thought that went into the design. I love to see the quality [or lack thereof] of the stitching. Most people look at the tops of the quilts. I look at the backs.
Also, my belief is that the stitching designs and thread choices should augment the quilt in a conservative manner. In other words, you can see the piecing through the quilting and, likewise, you can see the stitching if you look at it. I don’t like the stitching, no matter how intricate and beautiful, that stands up and shouts “Look and me and not that gorgeous quilt!”

This leaves the back as the place where the quilting stands out. It can’t stand out if it is crowded out by the back’s fabric designs. However, that is my preference.

Busy and intricate backs also create other problems for the quilter, this is not an exhaustive list:

  • It is difficult to assess the thread tension;

  • The longarmer cannot easily assess the quality of the stitching.

  • Similarly the longarmer cannot easily assess if corrective action should be taken; and,

  • Pinches and gatherings are harder to detect and therefore avoid.
These issues may seem superfluous, but they are important when you want to get the most out of your longarming dollar. And, if this were you, you would want your longarmer to deliver the best results possible for the service you chose..

I must be in the minority because our quilters most often bring in busy backs like the one below. The picture below is from a custom quilting project which implies an investment in piecing as well as longarming. The busyness of the back reduces the effect of the stitching design and changes in thread color.
In this situation, finding a problem with the stitching is difficult, let along enjoying the beauty of the design and effect of changing thread colors.
Almost all of our quilts have plain backings, as the Striated Star, below. Our reason is simple: as a longarming studio we want to show off our stitching.
A slightly less plain backing can be seen on the Dresden Baskets, below.
So, the next time you are selecting a backing for your quilt, consider a plain backing.
May The Lord Richly Bless You!
Rick & Ruth Grihalva
At Forever In Stitches our goal is to further the art of quilting and longarming.
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