Worries of a Long Arm Quilting Aficionado

On viewing the competition entries and winners at the South West Quilting Show in Bristol last year, I was struck by the fact that most of the major prize winners in the full size quilt categories were won by quilters who had employed a Long Arm Quilter to do the quilting on their quilt – and in fact the same ‘Long-armer’ had done more than one of the winning entries. They were certainly beautiful quilts and deserved to win but it set me thinking….

Now I am a big fan of having large quilts long arm quilted by someone who has the necessary skills because I know that I could never achieve anything like the same result on my domestic machine and I have had quilts done for me and love the result. My problem is that in the competition world these quilts are being judged alongside the quilts that have been pieced and quilted by one maker usually using their domestic machine. It would seem to me that these quilters are at a distinct disadvantage and must feel rather aggrieved. Surely there should be another category in ‘Show’ competitions which differentiates between quilts made in their entirety by one maker and those that are pieced by one worker and quilted by another. It is quite common in North America for quilters to have their own long arm machine and they can do their own ‘long-arming’ but it is still relatively rare here. The other consideration is where there is sizeable prize money being offered, should the prize be shared between the two quilters who both contributed to the success of the quilt? Of course the piecer has most likely had all the expense of fabric, thread and paying the ‘long-armer’ so there could be an argument against that. In ALL circumstances, the long-armer must be acknowledged but must at times feel that she has missed out on some of the winning accolades. Long-arm quilting is an art in itself and requires great skill, imagination and design capabilities. It can enhance a rather ho-hum quilt raising it to a much higher level – anyone who went to the Quilt Show in Alsace and saw the old, rather badly pieced quilts that had been handed over to a long-armer would testify to that.

These are just my thoughts and it would be really interesting to hear yours – whether you are a ‘Long-armer’ or a ‘Piecer’ or a hand quilter or someone who enters competitions having done all their own quilting on their machines at home.

Let’s have a discussion.
Bee Barford

Scroll Up