Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. If you buy thru them, I receive a small commission—at no extra cost to you. This helps me provide all the free information on this site. To learn more, read my full Disclosure Policy.

Bad Machine Quilting

by Gail

I need advice...I sent two quilts to a long arm machine quilter who was recommended. I am heartbroken at the results - hard, stiff, threads pulling, quilting stitches coming out and the quilts are full of holes.


I started to bind them and got to thinking if washing them might help. Should I remove the quilting and then wash them?

They are both batiks and they are both very special. One is for our daughters birthday and the other for our granddaughter who we will finally see this summer. We haven't seen her in 6-1/2 years. She is turning 9 this summer.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Reply

I am so very sorry for you.

What happened to a friend of mine...

One of my bee friends has taken out the quilting from two quilts she had long arm quilted (at different times and by two different quilters).

For the first one, the quilting was a beautiful pantograph (an interlocking edge to edge design with flora and fauna) but it just didn't jive with her 'idea' of her quilt. In her opinion, the quilting design was much too contemporary for her traditional quilt. It was made from a pack of Cherrywood's "Crazy Ladies" hand dyed fabrics. I'm thinking the quilter took that as a cue that this quilt required 'contemporary quilting'. I believe that it was a miscommunication...or lack of communication...during the quilting planning process.

The second quilt where she removed the quilting was a reproduction of an antique pineapple quilt that she'd seen somewhere. Quite frankly, all the quilt needed was ditch quilting or some sort of grid quilting to emphasize the 'antique' feeling, but the long arm quilter did some curvy, cloud-like thing that really disrupted the flow of the pineapple blocks. On top of that, if I remember correctly, the quality of the quilting was not up to par either.

So she picked out all the quilting stitches and re-quilted it herself.

In your situation...

If you had no issue with the quality of the quilter's work, then if it was me, I'd rip out the quilting and chalk it up to mis-communication between you and your quilter.

And then strive to better communicate the next time around.

But because there is a problem with the thread and the quilting stitches coming undone, I would first take the quilt back to the long arm quilter. Those problems shouldn't be happening, especially when the quilt isn't even bound yet. See if you can get some remedy from her/him.

If you wash the quilt first, and the problem(s) get worse and THEN you go back to the quilter, the situation is muddied...perhaps the problems happened with improper washing. Does that make sense?

As far as the stiffness goes, that may simply be the density of the quilting stitches and/or the type of batting used. Your quilter will be able to tell if it will 'soften' up with washing.

The holes you are seeing...I'm not sure if you're talking about the threads in the fabric being torn and creating holes or holes left from the needle.

If its threads torn creating holes, again, I'd go back to the quilter for remedy. Having holes torn into a quilt top is not what you paid for.

However, I'm betting that the holes you are referring to are from the larger needle used in long arm quilting. I am not a long arm quilter, myself, but I understand that a larger needle like a 90/14 is commonly used. This needle leaves a larger needle hole in the fabric, but I do believe that with washing this hole will close up, at least somewhat.

While hopefully, you'll be able to remedy your situation with the machine quilter before your daughter and granddaughter arrive this summer, we quilters regularly deliver quilts later than we'd like. But our loved ones appreciate them all the same. I'm sure your daughter and granddaughter will feel all the love that went into the making. Please don't let this hamper time your with them. YOU have too much loving to do while they're with you. And time is all too precious.

Readers, I'd appreciate any comments or suggestions for Gail. If you've been in this situation...whether you're the long arm quilter or the quilt top maker, let us know how you handled it. Just use the 'comment' link below.

Piecefully,

Julie Baird
Editor

PS Gail...If you haven't pre-washed your fabrics before the quilt was made, test them for bleeding before washing. Your fabrics will be less apt to bleed in cold water, though it's not a guarantee.

Comments for Bad Machine Quilting

Click here to add your own comments

Just an observer
by: Anonymous

Batik fabric is difficult to quilt and the quilter should have warned you or suggested another quilter if she was not confident. The fabric is tight and often breaks the thread so I suppose she used a heavier thread.

I made a batik quilt for myself and understanding the problem quilted it with silk thread and it came out beautifully.

I would never think of using a heavy thread on a delicate fabric like batik. If you take the quilting out you may also have holes in the fabric that don't really close up.

I would also be heartbroken.

Quilting quality
by: Gideon

I work at a quilt shop in the Western US. I am disappointed by the quality of the work of their machine - loops galore on the backing. He claims it is the nature of machine quilting. I think not.

Batik fabrics, wrong design: prevention is in your hands, piecer
by: Laura Lee Fritz

When the batik being used for patchwork and for backing is the tightly woven fabric which doesn't let much light pass through it (when holding it up in front of a light), then you can be sure that it will cause many headaches in the quilting. Besides cutting the topthread like a knifeblade, it will itself break when the needle pierces it to make a stitch, leaving little tufts on the back of the quilt.

The best solution to both of these issues, is to soak the fabric in Milsoft, a professional fabric softener from www.dharmatrading.com.

It has no color, no perfumes, no gloppy thickener.
Mix it with water 10 parts water to one part Milsoft, soak for five or ten minutes, hang dry without further rinsing.

This will let you and the longarm quilter sew without damage.

It is ESSENTIAL that you know your mind before you go to the quilter.

There are commercially printed books full of ideas you can use that are continuous line. I am only one author of many, who made such books, and I put out 5 that you can buy on Amazon.com.

If you choose a couple ideas that you believe suit your quilt, then you have a visual start for the conversation with your longarm quilter about designs possible for your quilt. If the quilter cannot do an exact design for one reason or another, at least you have the same visual understanding, and she/he can find something else to quilt, knowing what you have in mind.


Milsoft, professional textile softener from Dharma Trading Company
From the Editor: Thank you so much for your comments, Laura Lee. I am a proud owner (and fan) of several of your books and can personally recommend them! :D

To my readers, you can click here to see and learn more about several of Laura Lee Fritz's continous line quilting design books (this is an affiliate link)

Click here to learn more about Milsoft, the professional textile softener mentioned in Laura's suggestions above.

Both are excellent suggestions. Thank you!

~ Julie Baird

Bad Quilting Response
by: Laurel Kindley

I have been a professional long arm quilter since 2003. I care a great deal about the quality of the work I do. I would not intentionally let a quilt leave my shop that I would not be proud to own myself. And, I think most, if not all, professional quilters feel the same about their work.

I have a satisfaction guarantee with my work. If a customer is not happy, for whatever reason, then they should definitely tell me so I can correct the problem. I think anyone who is unhappy with a quilting job that they paid money to a professional quilter, and don't tell them, then you are doing the quilter a huge disservice. You should give the quilter the opportunity to fix the problem. If a customer feels that a quilt was ruined by the quilting, it should be the quilter's job to take out the quilting and requilt the quilt. Or, at least take out the quilting and refund the money to the customer.

With that said, it is extremely important that you relay any opinions you have about how a quilt should be quilted to the quilter. As a professional quilter, it is my job to ask if the customer has a preference. Frankly, the customers that come into my shop and tell me to "do whatever you think best" are the ones that make me the most nervous. Just because the quilting I select for the quilt is what I think is best does not mean you share in the same opinion. So, please, please, please, open up to your quilter and tell them what you think.

On custom quilting, I usually show my customers the design I plan to use and make sure my customers are good with it before I quilt a quilt. Just makes for good communication.


response to bad quilting
by: Anonymous

Quilting for hire is a service--just like having a room painted by a professional painter.

If the work is not meeting your expectations, before doing one more thing to that quilt, I would call the quilter and ask for a sit down chat. You could make a list of the things that are concerning you so that you don't get nervous and forget things. I would give the person a chance to respond and possibly make an offer of how to address the concerns.

Quilting for pay is a word-of-mouth business, and I'm sure that any person doing this work would welcome a chance to make a situation right rather than risk having their reputation tarnished. I would not wash the quilt before giving the quilter your feedback about his/her work.

Batik Quilt Issue
by: Cindy Roth

I am a professional longarm quilter (15+ years)and would like to respond to this issue.

"True" batik fabrics have a different and/or more dense weave to them which presents many issues to the professional quilter.

Many times, especially if the both the quilt top and the backing fabric are batiks, there can be quilting issues. Most of the time when quilting batiks, we (professional quilters) might need to use a larger needle. This will mean that the needle holes will be larger. The needle holes usually close with washing the quilt.

Also, batik fabrics are notorious for causing more breaking of the quilting thread.

Batik fabric can be a little "stiffer" which will affect the outcome of the quilting.

You didn't mention what type of batting was used. Each type of batting has a "feel" to it and batting is affected by the fabric around it. If the fabric is batik and a little stiffer and the batting is a little "stiff", then the quilting will feel stiffer also.

I would recommend that this person bind the quilts, wash them, dry them in a dryer and see what happens. I would be willing to bet that the quilts will look and feel a lot better after washing.

Cindy Roth
Longarm University
www.longarmuniversity.com

Click here to add your own comments

Return to GQP's Quilting Forum.

Click here to go to the Home Page


Search This Site




Quilt patterns,
books and kits
to tempt you!

Click any of the images or links below for more info...

Fold-N-Stitch Wreath pattern
Fold-N-Stitch Wreath
by Poorhouse Quilt Design


Farm Girl Vintage
by Lori Holt


Gypsy Wife
by Jen Kingwell






Craftsy


Enhance your
Fabric Resource Center
aka 'Stash'

Click on the images to go to Amazon.com for more choices.


Click here for MORE
Kaffe fabrics



Click here for MORE
Batik fabrics



Subscribe...

...to STASH Talk,
our free newsletter.
Simply complete
the form below...

E-mail Address
First Name
Then

Don't worry...
Your e-mail address is
totally secure.

I promise to use it
only to send you
Stash Talk.