January 31, 2012

Outsourcing your quilting - thoughts?

Hey crafty ladies, I have an opinion question for you that I would love to hear some feedback on.

Have any of you ever had your quilts professionally quilted on a longarm machine by someone else? Did you use someone local or send it off in the mail to someone you found online?

I have received recommendations from my local quilt shop of local longarm quilters who cost around 1-2 cents / square inch, which is very reasonable. That would save me the cost and fear of shipping off my quilts. However, regardless of the reasonable price, that would mean that most of my quilts would be $50-$75 each to get them quilted. Is it really worth so much money?

What do you think?

I would love to take a class and rent longarm space at a local shop but the only one within an hour from me is actually selling their machine and even last year were not taking new renters. Just getting a little bored with my straight line quilting options and I am really bad at FMQ and would not even attempt that on any quilt I've made so far. I definitely have plans to practice it on smaller projects and get better, but I don't know that I'd ever want to attempt FMQ on my small machine on a queen sized quilt, yikes.

Thanks for your feedback in advance, can't wait to hear about your opinions/experiences!

ps. Please let's not turn this into a debate about whether you should "do all your own work" - that is not what I am looking for and definitely do not want any contention on my blog.


LynCC said...

Hi! I do use the services of professional longarmers on probably half of my quilts, for two reasons. 1) My ufo list is so backed up, I'd never burrow out on my own. 2) Some quilts I want done in a manner beyond my skill level or they're just way too stinkin' big for me to drag around through my tabletop.

"Is it worth it" is a personal matter that each one of us has to assess for ourselves. Will the expense put undo strain on the budget? (edge-to-edge is not nearly as expensive as fancy custom work) Is the quilt top meritorious or sentimentally valuable? (I wouldn't spend the money on charity and super-simple quilts.) Is your pile of flimsies getting way too big to wait for your own skill levels to improve enough to do all of them yourself? Do you LOVE piecing and creating but HATE quilting?

My personal strategy: I keep a complex quilt at the longarmer's every time I can have a slot, while I work on all the small and simple projects that I produce, and I also work on increasingly complex quilts as I go along (I'll do anything up to a full size right now - bigger than that, and it's too unwieldly to offset the cost of the quilting). I will continue to do this until two things converge: I can get my own longarm (won't be before the end of 2014), and my skills match the quilting I want done.

Michelle said...

I forget what part of the state you are in...but have you checked Lil Country Shoppe? They rent an HQ16 that is really nice. I've sent my bigger quilts off to a longarmer for about 10 years with great results! It is a bit expensive, but like you, I moved beyond just wanting straight stitching. It was worth it to me to have such beautiful quilting. (I always went with the cheapest designs too!) I have rented machines off and on to and finally I'm lucky enough to have my own longarm now!

I say go for it and try one or two to see if you like it. :)

Impera_Magna said...

My feelings/experiences are similiar to LynCC... I don't enjoy fighting with quilts larger than a good size throw/lap quilt. Anything that size or smaller I quilt myself.

HOWEVER, I was in a time crunch on a baby quilt when I first started quilting and had a LAQ do the quilting for me.

I tried quilting a twin size quilt and gave up... it's waiting for me to get determined and finish it up. I had the twin quilts for my grandchildren quilted for me... as well as the queen and king size quilts for the kids.

I have used both local LAQs and sent one quilt away to be quilted... had a very positive experience with the long-distance quilter and using the mail despite my worries about it getting lost in the mail.

I just do straight line quilting and haven't ventured into FMQ yet... and my own long-arm isn't even on the horizon.

I think I'll continue to quilt smaller quilts myself and send the larger ones out.

tink's mom said...

I don't quilt anything bigger than large lap size. I send out the bigger ones and have been very pleased. I have used 3 different people. My favorite gal is so talented and inventive I send and let her do her thing. Not outrageously expensive and always a long wait. I have used someone who was new to long arm and tested her on something I needed to have done but not really needing special detail. Again I got what I paid for. Then there was the gal who did stellar work, picked up and delivered to my door but was very expensive. I have used her more than once. Sometimes you have to weigh the cost vs time vs convenience.

So yes I would recommend having it done. Do you have a guild locally ususally the members know who's doing what locally and might aim you in a direction.

Carla said...

To be honest, I can't afford to have it professionally quilted so I do my own quilting. Even on the large queen size quilts. Granted, I have the machine that can handle it. But If I could afford it, I would so have someone do it for me. This way I could just keep on making quilt tops. Having to quilt my own quilts makes me limit the amount and size of quilts I make.

Sometimes you can find a beginner who has experience that will do it cheaper than most. Just have to look at your local quilt guilds.

Diane said...

I had my first two quilts professionally quilted, but that's it. The first one my Step-mom paid for it, so it worked out perfect for me. The second one I realized how expensive it was. They were both for my boys - their first quilts, so they're kind of special, that and my quilting ability was no where near good enough to have done them! I would have slaughtered them!

Last year I got to the point where I definitely needed a new sewing machine and opted for one that I can do my own quilting on. I figured if I make a lot of quilts - say 10, and they each cost ~$80 to get quilted, $800 towards my sewing machine makes the price of a nicer machine a little more worth it. I'm still not a pro, but I made a huge picnic blanket that I "practiced" a different design in each square, and I definitely improved by the time I finished it. Yeah, it's a bit squishy to do big quilts on it, but it's do-able! I also have the thing about always wanting to do things myself. ;)

I wonder if you have programs or other ways you can find people who have long arms in your area. I know that my Bernina store here has a list of local people who will sew it for you, and maybe rent it. Perhaps you could call some sewing stores around your area, or list it on craigslist that you are looking for one. I bet there are more people out there than are advertising.

Good luck and have fun! I would definitely love to try long arm quilting... one day. ;)

Caitlin said...

Ask around at church - and on the stake level, too. I'm sure there are some women around that quilt and know if there are any local secrets. Good luck!