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Longarming #23 - What Size Is A Quilt? - Part 1
This is one of the newsletters in a series of almost 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 longarm quilting results;
  • Have you end up with a work of art of which you are proud;
  • Anticipate the needs of your longarmer because that impacts the cost; 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 Size Is The Quilt? - Part 1!

I find it interesting when quilters call or email requesting the price for longarming a quilt. Upon further questioning it often turns out that the quilter has no idea what size their quilt is.

They usually depend upon the quilt size as printed on the pattern, but this is usually wrong. There are two major reasons for that lack of information. They will be discussed in this and a following email.

When The Quilt Size Is Unknown

As it turns out, most of those who know their quilt size in the aforementioned group are incorrect, because they are using the size of the quilt listed on their pattern and not the actual size of their finished quilt. Most would expect that those two measurement would be the same. However, they are usually different, and sometimes quite different.

That seems to be preposterous at first glance. But, there are two main reasons that the sizes differ:

  • Variations in seam allowances; and,

  • Modifications made "on the fly" by the quilter.

Variations In Seam Allowances

Forever In Stitches has stitched 10,000 quilts for customers. "Quarter inch seams" range from 1/2" to none [a hole with no seam]. In other words, some people don't care about the size of a quarter inch seam. No wonder the quilts come out being a different size than the pattern shows.

Additionally, when we had our training center I was surprised that people would lug in their own sewing machines instead of using ours. I quickly found out that different sewing machines have different 1/4" feet and that aligning stitches can be different from machine to machine.

It might sound silly to complain about seam allowances, but when you consider the number of seams in a quilt, it adds up. For example if a seam is sewn at 3/8" [or 1/8" larger than normal] and there are sixteen seams from side to side then we have a 2" difference! [16 seams x 1/8" per seam = 16/8" = 2"]
You can imagine this effect on a quilt like Ruth's Twisted Double Lone Star [RGR149] with 90 blocks by 90 blocks when there are different or varying seam sizes! An 1/8" difference would result in a change of around 10"!

When you think about it, there is very little reason that a quilt would end up being the same size as listed on the pattern!

Modifications Made "On The Fly"

Have you ever been assembling a quilt and thought "This would look great with sashing!" Or, "The sashing is too narrow [or wide]. It would look so adorable with the sashing like this!" Or what about "I need this quilt to be bigger to fit on my king. I'll just throw on a few borders!"

I've heard all of these before and I'm guessing that you have too, from friends, of course.

Yet quilters call us with the printed quilt size instead of what they have actually produced! Ugh!

So What?

Longarmers usually figure out their charges based on the time involved. The time involved depends upon the level of quilting [E2E, E2E with Borders, Light Customization....] the speed that a pattern sews, the cost of their machines, and their expertise. The most important variable is "time" as that is the result of the quilt size and the pattern complexity.

It is very disconcerting to call and ask for a quote for the wrong sized quilt. In the end, both the quilter and the longarmer come out looking bad: the quilter for not knowing the size of the quilt and the longarmer for mis-quoting the costs.

So, before you ask for a quote, measure!.
We hope that this has been informative and helpful!

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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