I need Info from other longarm quilters….and customers

Categories: BlogBy Published On: August 3, 201844.6 min read981 words3 Comments on I need Info from other longarm quilters….and customers

So I think nobody likes writing about this. Nobody likes talking about this…so I am just putting it out there. I just want information. Constructive information.  I hate sharing this….

As with any business there are ups and downs. Satisfied customers and dissatisfied customers. That’s just any  business. Thankfully …there are more positive than negative experiences.

As a longarm quilter–> I feel a HUGE sense of responsibility for quilts. Quilts are a huge investment of time and money. I totally understand this as a quilter. A piece of our soul goes into these.

When a quilter drops off a quilt no matter the condition it then becomes the sole responsibility of the longarmer. This is sometimes unfair.

So in the beginning of my career—I learned some valuable lessons the hard way….because I didn’t know any of the rules about quilting the mechanics, tension issues ect. I ticked off some people. Thankfully, I have learned from those.  Sometimes,( even now…I am human) I will make a mistake by using the wrong type of batting ….or something. An honest mistake. It’s happened. A few times, I have had a broken needle puncture a quilt….honest to goodness….although horrifying things, that you have to admit too and go back to your customer and say…I am so sorry. ect ect. Mostly…..things go off without a hitch.  99% of the time the people I work with are AMAZING!

I had an unusual situation happen and it seemed just a series of unfortunate events happened with a particular quilt and I was just cursed. Even now as I look back at the situation I am not really sure what I could have done differently….so I am honest to goodness looking for advice and direction in case this happens again.  I hope this never happens again….but you just never know.

I will also preface this by saying…..I think this is why some longarmers will refuse pieced backs. I really don’t want to do that.

A new customer brought me a quilt ( of course she came with 2 new customers who also brought quilts. I will also say they are local and that means that in my small community…..you know how it goes). The quilt was big 106×106.

The back was pieced with a huge center batik square and then many borders around this to bring it up to size.

She wanted an all over design. OK great.

I load it. Just like I load everything else. I used side clamps ect. I get it quilted. I noticed as it was being quilted that some pleats had formed in the center panel of the back. But the borders were fine. Which means she had a ton of fullness in that center panel. It was a wreck. So I take the quilt off and flip it over so I can work from the back while it’s on the frame. Still stretched …..to keep everything in place. But I thought ..OK I will rip out stitches…4 days of ripping out around those pleats…so then I starched the fabric. So I could get the fabric to cinch up some and get those pleats to settle down. So then I re-quilted….in those areas…not as fully because there was just no way to ease those pleats in. ( I have done this several times with success before). There was a layer of cotton batting. So I knew once she washed it those pleats would ease up even more with the vintage crinkly look that comes with cotton batting.

So I get it all done….flip the quilt over and the batik panel had bled to the top of the quilt from the starch that I had sprayed on the back. So she didn’t pre-wash or soak her batik. So this is now a bigger mess.


I had tears. Serious tears. what am I supposed to do?

This is all because of a poorly pieced back. I feel like the only way I could have avoided this was to refuse all pieced backs to everyone. I can’t do that. I couldn’t have fixed the pleats without starching. So any technique I tried was just a disaster. I could have handed it back with 4 huge pleats and let her decide what to do…..which I also feel would have ended in a negative result. So I am stuck. I feel like now that I know how many wrong outcomes there is— next time I will save myself 4 days of grief and hand it back?  What would you do? This whole things makes me feel sad, sick and lost…frankly.

She was a new customer…and I didn’t want to hand her a quilt with 4 huge pleats in the back of her quilt. So I was honestly trying to give her the best outcome…and frankly she is upset. I clearly…lost a few new customers. It’s just terrible all the way around. I am upset too.

I think quilter’s sometimes don’t fully understand how the process of longarming works and that we do the best we can. I refunded half of the money for quilting. I felt like we both should take ownership. What would you do here?

So what would you do?> in either of these situations? if you are a longarmer what’s your experience…you can write me privately ( I know the sensitive nature of all of this…I am concerned about sharing this myself. So I will keep it private). As a customer what do you think the best choice is? I am honest to goodness just wanting to make better choices for my business. I am not complaining. I just want all of us to be happy in the end. I can’t move ahead unless I grow from this lesson.

Thanks for your time.






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  1. Terri August 3, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    I am a beginning quilter so please take my comments with a grain of salt. I have been watching your site for a while now. Everything you do is beautiful. I have been out of quilting for a couple of years for personal reasons, but I would like to get started again. I am learning a lot from your site and I would be glad to bring my little projects to you for the final quilting.
    I’m sure you probably already do this, but you can only describe for the customer the difficulties that could come up with each type of quilt. Communication throughout the project could be important, too. With every little problem–call them. Also, do you have them sign anything detailing problems that could occur?
    I’m sure you did everything possible to make this project come out right. I hope this helps. I have confidence in you and your abilities.

  2. Kris August 3, 2018 at 7:18 pm

    I had something similar with a customer’s quilt. She brought me a quilt that needed custom free hand stitching. That part went fairly well, but when I took it off the frame, the label she had put on the backing was pleated. She was not happy, says she couldn’t enter it into the fair. I ended up giving her a huge discount so I could get reimbursed for my materials. Trouble is, in the quilting circle, she bad mouthed me and I also lost customers. I no longer quilt for anyone. They think they know the process when they have no clue what it takes to quilt a custom job pretty much free hand. Sorry you have experienced this, but I’m happier just doing my own thing.

  3. Liz A. August 8, 2018 at 10:35 am

    I had a quilt bleed even though all the fabrics had been prewashed. Then I found Vicki’s information and tried it. If you saw the quilt now you would never know that all the reds had bled. Now any fabrics that leave color on the color catchers get the 12-24 hour Dawn soak. Give her this inf and have her try the Dawn soak. I know it saved a guild member’s purple quilt that bled. http://www.colorwaysbyvicki.com/save-my-bleeding-quilt.html

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