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Longarm Services v DIY v Machine Rental!

In the past we have introduced our DIY [Do-It-Yourself] Longarming. We'd like to take this opportunity to explore what it is and how it relates to other services available here and in the marketplace in general. It has also prompted us to make clear what we have done for our regular longarming services for seventeen years.

Like so many things in quilting, a little more specificity needs to be added to our communication. An example of this need for clarification is the term "quilter" which is either the person doing the patchwork piecing or the person quilting the layers together.

Also important is that these terms may be used differently by different people. Thus, in this discussion the following terms are used as we understand them. This entire Sew And Sew Newsletter is dedicated to the definition and exploration of terms, as it were.

Longarm Services are automated or freehand services where the entire quilting process is under the control and discretion of a professional longarmer.

Machine Rental refers to the rental of time on a free-motion longarm machine.

DIY [Do-It-Yourself] Longarming refers to the rental of time on an automated, or robotic, longarm machine, as is the case at Forever In Stitches.
DIY Longarm v Machine Rental

We "coined" the term "DIY Longarming" to differentiate it from the rental of a free-motion longarm machine.

The key differences are:

  • DIY is automated or robotic longarming. Thus, there is a consistency throughout the quilt in pattern reproduction. The quilting at the beginning is exactly the same as the quilting at the end.

  • DIY longarming in our case has a choice of our entire library of 5,000 digital designs. Additional patterns can be obtained on the web. With free-motion longarming rental, the quilter is limited to their repertoire of patterns they know, as well as their ability to improvise a pattern on-the-fly.

  • DIY can end up costing less than free-motion. This is because it goes so much faster. This is even though it can be more expensive on a per hour basis. For example, one of our "DIYers" completed a 74" by 74" quilt in an hour and a half.

  • The "DIYer" has access to Ruth or Rick throughout the process. After all, even DIY quilts carry the "I did it at Forever In Stitches" reputation so we do want to make sure that the proper decisions are made. There is a learning curve associated with the choice of patterns, spacing of patterns, and knowing when things are 'heading in the wrong direction" and that's where we come in.
DIY Longarming & Machine Rental Are The Same For:

  • Backing and Batting

  • Squaring the back

  • Loading the machine

  • Unloading the machine

  • Advancing the machine

  • Testing tension

  • An increased "pride of creativity" and "ownership" as the quilter performed all of the functions to produce the quilt.

Note that all of these steps may differ from one longarm manufacturer to another. Our machines are Innovas - the world's leading technological longarm machine.
DIY v Longarm Services

  • Our DIY Longarmers do not have to take a special class. Everything is OJT [On the Job Training] with Ruth and/or Rick Grihalva, Master Quilters.

  • For DIYers, all of the steps up to working on the machine are performed with Ruth and/or Rick.

  • DIYers perform all of the machine functions under the supervision of Ruth and/or Rick.

  • Although we allow up to custom DIY Longarming, each quilter must prove proficient in our shop on "edge-to-edge" [E2E] before they progress to "E2E with borders", and then finally before advancing to the custom level. The price per hour increases also due to our involvement in the DIYer's project -- Doing a custom quilt initially can require 100% of our time.

  • The DIYer may make decisions that take less time. For example, as a longarming service we bury threads in the middle of the quilt whereas the DIYer may just tie off and trim the ends. Thus, the cost of DIYing may be less than using our Professional Longarm Services.

  • With the Longarm Services one doesn't have to learn anything new. All of the decisions listed above are performed by the professional longarmer. The quilter is free to use their time in any other manner they wish. After all, quilting a quilt may require a larger block of time than they are willing to block out of their day. For example, we have had custom quilts that have taken over a week to complete.
Longarming Services

The following is the list of things that Forever In Stitches does as a longarming service. Please note that other longarmers may very well have a different list of things that they do.

  • Check the top to see that it is square [i.e. does it go to the right, left, bow in the middle, or a combination]. If it isn't within the range of acceptability, then discuss corrective action with the owner.

  • Check the top fullness, both in the borders or in the center. If it is beyond the ability to look good when quilted, then discuss corrective action with the owner.

  • Assure that you've indicated the top of the quilt.

  • Assure that the back is ten inches larger than the top, or five inches on each side.

  • Assure that the batting, if provided, is five inches larger than the top, or 2 1/2" on each side.

  • With the owner, select whether the quilting will be E2E, E2E with borders, or custom. This will depend largely on the desire of the owner, the layout of the quilt piecing, and the price range desired.

  • Work with the owner to select an appropriate design(s) from our digital design library of 5,000 designs that is appropriate for the quilt theme, type, theme of a fabric that is in the quilt, the recipient, or whim. If none fit the need, then select from those on the web or have us create a pattern.

  • Select, with the owner, an appropriate thread color(s).

  • Prepare the quote and discuss with the customer. Print the finalized quote.

  • Number and hang quilt on a hanger.

From this point on, the steps are taken without the presence of the quilt owner. As such, it is imperative that we have your cell number to consult with you in the event of an unforeseen problem. If we can not communicate with you, then we will use our professional judgement of how to handle the problem.

  • Assure that the backing is square. If it is not, then it is squared. If too much fabric has to be removed [e.g.: it cannot be loaded onto the longarm], then consult with the owner.

  • Iron the back, if it was bought from us.

  • Mark the top of the backing, where appropriate.

  • Mark the centers of the top and bottom of both the quilt top and back.

  • Load the back onto the Innova and roll it multiple times to assure that there are not fabric tension issues.

  • Load the batting.

  • Load the top.

  • Square the quilt top on the machine to the inside of the border. If the quilt does not have a border, then align to the top of the quilt.

  • Baste the top onto the batting and backing.

  • The top will be floated if it is beneficial to the quality of the finished product. Otherwise, it will be secured to the roller at the bottom.

  • The tension of the bobbin case and the sewhead are tested on a piece of test material using the quilt's batting and backing.

  • The top is aligned vertically on both sides.

  • The sides are basted.

  • Sides are clamped and stabilized.

  • Depending on the stitching design or the design of the piecing, pinning may be required in addition to the basting, both horizontally and vertically.

  • The pattern(s) is loaded appropriately and to the size agreed upon with the customer.

  • Quilting is started.

  • The stitching is reviewed on the front and well as the back.

  • When the row is completed, the top is rolled ahead and the machine repositioned so that the screen matches the quilt. This allows for proper interlacing of the stitching design

  • The back is inspected for the quality of the stitches.

  • The backing is examined to assure that it is flat and will not pinch on further quilting.

  • The batting is checked to assure that is lies flat.

  • The batting is scanned for threads and other items that may show through.

  • The sides are basted and pins are used, if required.

  • Sides are clamped and stabilized.

  • Quilting is started again and the process repeats until the quilt is finished.

  • A final Quality Assurance review is performed before the quilt is unloaded.

  • The quilt is unloaded.

  • Loose ends are buried.

  • Additional steps of trimming and binding are done where requested.

  • The bill is finalized.

  • The customer is notified or the quilt is packaged for UPS pickup if the quilt was mailed-in.

That is what you get from Forever In Stitches, when you use our professional longarming services.
Enjoy your blessings!
At Forever In Stitches our goal is to further the art of quilting and longarming.
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