Sunday, April 13, 2008


It's true that I haven't been getting much done in the way of patchwork and quilting but my hands haven't been completely free. Last week I tore up another of my mother-in-law's kimonos and made another shirt. (I showed it last week in the picture of me in Tokyo.) Same pattern as before but this is a lighter color and has a very delicate weave. The sewing flaws show up more in the light fabric but I guess I'm not fussy. From a distance this just looks like a light brown sack (no darts, no fasteners) but close up it has an interesting shading... It was one of my mother-in-law's favorite kimonos so I hope she'll like what I've done to it.

The other sewing was on the little April block from Lynette's Noah's Ark block of the month. I guess I will stay with it and see how complicated the blocks get before I decide if I'm going to do a whole year's worth. This little dove holding an olive branch was very tiny so it went quickly.

I've been mulling things around in my head about my Wonky Word Love quilt. What am I going to do about quilting this? I just don't think hand quilting is going to work for this because there are so many seams here and there. So that means machine quilting but it is so big. Two more options that I'm thinking about are sending it out to be quilted or long-arm quilting it myself. How is that possible? It's not really.

I could send this to a professional quilter which is tempting because I have yet to see how a long-arm quilt turns out. I'd really like to have one piece in my house done on a long-arm just so I know. But this runs into money that I don't really have and besides I do like to call my quilts my own and I might feel like I'd given a huge part of the quilt to the quilter. I'm sure many of you have opinions about sending a quilt out and obviously it is a wonderful option that a lot of you use. One question (though I've sort of looked around on the Internet already). How much should I expect to pay to have a professional quilt a single-bed size quilt?

The next option that I'm thinking about again costs money, and I need a little advice from experienced long-arm quilters. I could check out rental time on a long-arm machine in California and the three weeks that I am visiting my mother this year I might be able to take the quilt in and try my hand at long-arming myself. This has drawbacks since there isn't a quilt store in the town my mom lives in but I think a shop 30 minutes away has a rental system by the day. Is it possible to walk into a shop, plunk the quilt on a machine and start long-arm quilting it? And how many days would it take, and would I mess it up completely? I don't want to spend a lot of money on this quilt nor take away too much time from my family so squirreling myself away in a quilt shop for more than a day or two would be difficult. I've been reading Mrs. Goodneedle's posts about her new relationship with Sundance and it sounds like I may be too optimistic to think I can long-arm this myself. But one has to start somewhere doesn't one? And I guess I could chalk it up to experience.

Probably my pocketbook is going to win out again on this one and I may decide to sit down boldly before my domestic machine because Elaine says it can be done! Whatever I decide, I don't think I'm going to do anything until I get back to Japan at the end of June.


Anonymous said...

I am in Mississippi, USA. I have been following your blog as a link from Tanya's site. My sister is a long arm quilter in Arkansas and she charges by the square inch, and it also depends on the intricacy of the design. It runs 1.5-2.5 cents per square inch. She has been long arm quilting for 5 years and has developed a great style. She is really am artist. Lots of people are rsistant to the long arm quilting but itcan be really beautiful. I love that she does this because I have so many qulits that I am using now htat would still be waiting if I was hand quilting them myself. Feel free to e-mail me if you'd like me to sent you some pictures of her great work. Marsha.

Quilt Pixie said...

an economical solution might be to tie the quilt with bright embroidery floss...

artfilstitch said...

You have turned your Mother-in-laws Kimono into a beautiful jacket. I love the casual modeled it well in Tokyo. In regards to your quilt, I think that waiting until you return home to Japan is a good idea. An old cliche "when in doubt, don't".
Always enjoy hearing what is going on with you and your family.
Take care,

kate said...

I wouldn't try longarming it myself. I am a very good MQer...on my regular machine. There has been a big learning curve moving up to a mid arm (smaller than a long arm). I don't think you would be happy with how it turned out.

Could you find a longarm quilter in CA and schedule it in to be done while you're in the states? That would at least save all the international quilting. Surely with everyone reading your blog, they would know of a good longarmer close to where you'll be.

Good luck.

Oh...the jacket looks wonderful. ☺

Beth said...

There are two shops here in Phx you can rent time on. You have to have a class to learn the machine..THEN you get to quilt on it. I have had my short arm system quite awhile and had a few friends try their hand. Lets just say...there IS a learning curve! I suggest you either have it quilted, or try a small piece to practice to see how you like it on your own machine. There is a product you spray on your machine bed to make it

Annette said...

I just read an interesting article in an older Australian Quilter magazine about the history of the sewing machine and its use in quilting. It said that many women quilted the perimeter with the machine and hand quilted the center, as it was more difficult to get to with the machine--perhaps this would work for you? You could hand quilt the wonky blocks however you want, and then do something by machine on the border...just thinking...blessings, Annette

Clare said...

As far as I can see you've got a lot of options here. I like Annette's idea and the thought of tying it.

Lazy Gal Tonya said...

Personally, I wouldn't recommend doing it yourself on the longarm. Either pay a longarmer to do a really great custom quilting job on it (more money than a pantograph, but worth it) or do it yourself. You could machine quilt the less interesting bits and then hand quilt in the areas where it would show up - the background.

Shelina said...

The dove is beautiful!
Personally my pocketbook also wins out when it comes to sending quilts out. I have quilted big quilts on my regular sewing machine, so, yes it can be done. I just did straight lines on the twin size one. I even did two full size ones - one with wavy lines across the quilt, and the other one was a denim circle quilt, and I consider sewing down those flaps as quilting. It is a big pain though - use a very thin batting!
Having lots of options is good, but it can get intimidating sometimes. All of them are good. QP's ideas of tying seems good too. You could add buttons and charms, etc., and use them to tie the quilt together.
Because it is a wonky quilt, you could quilt it yourself on a long arm. It would be fun new thing to do, plus any bobbles could just add to the wonkiness!

Katie said...

I did a hand quilt tie by making stars on my Space Quilt. I used DMC and hid all the knots. See August in my blogs. The button or other stitching would work too. I have also tried quilting on my machine. Not easy but I did complete one. I usually save money and have a long arm do it. If you are not able to buy a good thin batting in Japan, maybe you could get one to take home while here. Enjoy your visit.

Anonymous said...

Love the jacket, love the dove, love the quilt! You're awesome.

I've done king-size quilts on my Viking D1. I use a flannel sheet for batting [I like thin quilts] and usually use a wavy stitch that's built-in on my machine, going right down the seams, so it almost looks quilted in-the-ditch. I don't roll them up - I accordion-pleat them, and they fit in the throat just fine. I don't think I'd try with a thicker batting, though. I think I'd keep the quilting simple, as you really want to show off the quilt itself! I'm so in love with it.
See if you can email some quilt shops in the area where you'll be staying, and if they can recommend someone to long-arm it while you're there. I would think you'd have to ship it ahead, but you can find out. Either that, or DIY! You can do it!!!!

Christine Thresh said...

I'm no help. Your quilt is very special and needs special treatment. I would not try quilting it on my first long-arm try.
Perhaps you could do the major sections on a long-arm and then do hand-quilting around the complicated blocks.
I've had two quilts done by a long-arm quilter. She was so talented. Clouds and leaves on one, big bows on another. They were perfect.
I found a quilt top yesterday (buried treasure) and it is not very special at all -- just a large-block trip around the world. I am going to have it long-arm quilted. I'll tell the quilter she can do any simple thing, even pantograph. I'll tell her she can do it when she has time. I'm in no rush since I have not seen the top for 8 years. It will just be a utility quilt for cold nights in bed. No one will every see it in the dark.

Elaine Adair said...

I would NOT long-arm it myself - that machine would run away with you! A professional LA quilter would do a great job, but expensive. However, you would learn a lot about pattern and design if you had a pro do it, but $$$

The best idea I have would do the straight seams, what I call, in the ditch with your walking foot and invisible or fine white thread. As several already stated, do some fine, relaxing hand quilting in the blocks. The border definitely need machine quilting - so many seams. They can easily be done back and forth in the seams, continuing up from one, across to the border, over the border, and down again to the edge, which would eliminate a lot of stopping and starting, but you would be wrestling with the quilt probably - it's inevitable. That invisible thread really disappears within the 'rumples' of your quilt. That thread comes in clear, and also Smoke which works well on darker colors. I frequently use bobbin thread on the back with invisible thread, but plain thread is just fine also.

In the meantime, start practicing on some test quilts - you can do machine quilting and can do it well with practice. said...

Sometimes when I'm quilting a big quilt on my home machine, I don't batt the whole thing at one time. You can lay out the backing, batting and the top, pin the middle area (probably lengthwise) of the quilt, then pull back the unpinned areas and cut away the batting in the unpinned areas. Make some registration lines across where you are going to cut so you can put the batting back in the right place! Quilt the batted area and then re-pin one side at a time and complete. Hope this makes sense!

harts4Him said...

I am in the process of researching the APQS Longarm (it's called The George). It is a long arm machine but it is on a table, so you quilt a basted quilt instead of stretching on a frame. Since I am used to machine quilting on my standard sewing machine, I figured that this would be a more natural fit for me. I know you machine quilt @ your standard machine as well. To my surprise, there is a deal only an hour away who rents this machine out for you to quilt on. So, I will get some hands on research with the machine and a quilt done at the same time. It was reasonable @ $10-$12 an hour. Much cheaper than having a long-armer do it for me. Check out the APQS George online and see if where you visit has that service. This may be a fit for you?