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Long Arm Quilting Services for a Beginning Quilt

by Carolyn J Bradley
(Vero Beach, Florida)

I have finished my front, purchased batting and backing; but am looking for someone to quilt it with their big long arm quilting machine. I need the cost first. This is for an over-sized twin quilt. Can you help me in anyway? Or direct me in the right directions please?

Sincerely, Carolyn



CONGRATULATIONS on finishing your quilt!

There are several factors that figure into the final cost of having your quilt quilted by a long arm machine quilting service.

Preparing Your Quilt

Your longarm machine quilter wants to do a good job for you. It is normal for the quilter to have some requirements for the quilts coming in to be quilted. It is possible that the long armer will do some of the tasks listed below, but you should expect to pay for them. If the quilter performs these tasks, she/he is taking time away from what she does best...the machine quilting.

To begin with, the layers should be kept separate. Loading the quilt top, batting and backing onto the machine will effectively put the layers together.

Quilt Backing

  • If you supply the backing, it will need to be larger than the quilt top, usually by 4-6 inches on each side. (i.e. a 60" x 80" quilt top needs a backing 68-72" x 88-92") This is so the quilter can load your quilt onto their long arm quilting machine. Though this sounds like a lot, remember that you will cut off the excess before you bind the quilt. This excess can go straight back into your stash.

  • The backing should be square and neat so that it will roll properly onto the roller bars. If the quilter must square it up, expect a charge.

  • Remove the selvedges. Do not include them within the seam allowances as they will pucker the seam allowance as they are pressed.

  • Do not use sheets. Many quilters will not guarantee their results if you've sent a sheet for the backing fabric. If they must remove any hems, you'll be charged for that.

  • Quilt backing should be pressed. Many will want any seams pressed open to reduce bulk. Check with the quilter you choose to be sure. Some will provide a pressing service, but expect to be charged for it. The quilter is using her limited time to press, not to quilt, which is the real skill that you are paying for.

Quilt Top

The quilt top should also be pressed and in good condition.

  • No open seams. If your seams are coming undone at the edges of your quilt top BEFORE the long armer gets to your quilt, it's not going to get any better as she loads your quilt onto the machine. She/he will spend time re-stitching those seams to give you a professional quilting job. If your seams are open or coming undone, you can expect to either pay for the quilter's time to fix them or have the quilt returned for you to fix them. Do check with the quilter, as some will ask that the be stay stitched to hold the seams at the edges closed and stable.

  • Remove all pins, needles and hanging threads.

  • The quilt should be square. A quilters can only do so much for a quilt that isn't square to begin with. Do your best to accurately piece your quilt.

Embellishments and 3D Piecing

Dimensional embellishments should be added AFTER the quilt comes back to you from the quilter. Embellishments can interfere with the quilter's ability to roll squarely onto the rollers. The quilter will be unable to quilt closely to the decoration, and may, in fact, break them if they are stitched over.

Your long arm quilter may have other requirements before they will take your quilt. Please check and understand them before you contract with a quilter so there are no hidden surprises when the quilt is finished and the bill due.

Types of Long Arm Quilting

Longarm quilters offer several types of quilting for you to choose from, each with its own price point. Some will price by the square foot, others the square inch. Some quilters may specialize in just one or two types. It depends on the quilter.

The prices shown below are typical of the suburban Chicago area where I live. Your country or area of the country may be different.


From $1.80 to $2.90/square foot

Think of this as large stippling. The quilting roams all across the quilt top to secure the layers together. It tends to be one of the lower priced forms of quilting. It can look like large stippling or leaves or flowers, etc. It is a good choice to for quilts that will be used and washed frequently, or when you want/need to save some money.

Pantograph Quilting

From $1.75 to $5.00/square foot

Pantographs are quilted in interlocking rows across your quilt so that one row is hard to pick out from another. This can be a very good alternative to the higher priced heirloom quilting as the intricacy of the pantograph pattern increases. Some pantograph patterns contain more than one pass of stitching across a row. This increases the cost of this type of quilting because it's more work and takes more time.

Heirloom or Custom Quilting

From $2.50 to $10.00/square foot

This type of quilting is designed specifically for YOUR quilt. This is where the longarm quilter's experience and imagination really counts. It can get pricey, but for those heirloom quilts that you have spent a long time creating and definitely want to pass down to future generations, it can be well worth the money, because it truly adds another layer of design to your masterpiece. This type of quilting may also include hand marking and micro stippling or other small background fill patterns.

Other Services

Your long arm quilting professional may offer the following services or supplies as a convenience to you. Prices and services will vary by quilter.


Your longarmer may supply batting for a price or you can purchase your own. Remember, though, that the batting supplied is probably what the quilter prefers to use.


Just like the batting, the thread choice(s) is(are) ultimately yours. Expect to pay more for specialty threads, as well as thread changes. At first blush, that may seem strange, but re-threading and testing the tension does take time and your quilter in on the clock for your quilt.


Many will provide a binding services, either attaching the binding to the front of the quilt, or completing the binding. The charge is generally quoted as a price per foot of binding.

We have outlined the basics of having a quilt machine quilted by a professional long arm quilter. Each quilter is different and there will be variations on the topics above.

Talk with your quilter about your vision for your quilt. If you are just beginning to use long arm quilting services, talk to several long arm quilters to get a feel for what they offer.

Carolyn, to locate long arm quilters, check with your local quilt store or guild. The quilters there will be able to give you some feedback on the long arm quilters in your area.

I hope this information has been of some help to you.

Readers, do you have more to add? Please do use the 'Comment' link below and join in! Your thoughts and opinions are most welcome!


Julie Baird

Comments for Long Arm Quilting Services for a Beginning Quilt

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Looking for Theresa Warner
by: Sharon

I had Theresa do long armed quilting on some tops I completed and I'd like her to do more. She did live in Vero Lake Estates but has moved. Does anyone know how I can contact her ??

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