A professional longarm machine quilter for hire and some of the work I've done.
This is Joanne’s quilt. Its going on the machine today but I wanted to use it as an example of my intake process to show another machine quilter. This may be helpful for the customers to know too.
These are the steps I take when each quilt arrives and I start the paperwork trail. First thing I do is fill out an intake sheet. I record who it came from, their address, and contact information. From now until the quilt is returned to the owner this paperwork never leaves the quilt.
I measure both the top and backing then mark the centers with safety pins for centering them on the leaders. I verify the back is larger than the top by a minimum of 4 inches all the way around. I check the batting for size and remove it from the package so it will start to relax and breathe.
I fold the top wrong sides out for close inspection. Not that I’m expecting anything wrong but just to make my work go smoother. I need to know about any issues so I can plan the quilting. Issues are not problems.
I carefully check the back for any foreign objects that may have been accidently left by the piecer. I find a lot of straight pins but once in awhile there is something else. This one had a few pieces of paper left from the paper piecing. I’ll return these when the quilt goes home.
I re-fold the top with the right side out for another inspection. I’m looking for anything that would be an issue to work around when stitching a design. This one is extremely well made. Not all quilts are. Sometimes a quilt top will have open seams or other issues.
When a quilt arrives, but I’m not ready to put it onto the machine, I still want to start thinking about the designs to stitch based on the customer’s price choice. I trace various areas of the top onto paper. These tracings are what I use to audition stitching ideas.
I sit in the evening after work and look through my sketch books, quilting books, or online for inspiration. I lay another piece of paper over the sketched sections and draw different ideas. I keep the sketch I think will work best and put it with the stored quilt.
Sometimes I come up with a good design quickly and other times my mind just draws a blank. Kind of like when an artist is facing a blank canvas. Stand and stare time doesn’t pay the bills. If my machine is not moving I’m not earning my salary. That’s why I start thinking about stitching ideas before I actually put the quilt on the machine. Anything I can do in advance is good.
After all the checking, measuring, and tracing is done I carefully fold the top and backing so that they are oriented correctly to put onto the machine leaders. I attach the paperwork to the top with a safety pin and put it away.