I met Cheryl this morning for coffee. Cheryl uses a longarm machine and I thought it would be interesting to hear about this side of quilting. I have used Cheryl to quilt both a table topper and a throw-sized quilt. I wondered about her machine, her training, and what she always tells me is her passion for this process.
Cheryl’s machine is 12 feet long and takes up an entire bedroom. She has many, many spools of thread as she needs colors available for every color top and backing. Cheryl said it takes her one-half hour to one hour to load the quilt (set it up on the longarm) and mark her design. Before she starts to quilt, however, she hangs the quilt on the wall and studies it for ideas on where she will quilt and which design or designs she will use. Cheryl says, “For a throw-sized quilt, it takes 30 to 35 hours to just quilt it”.
Recently she was asked by a member of a Tampa quilt guild to complete a ‘show quilt’. It is an over-sized queen-sized quilt and will be auctioned on the on-line quilt auction for the Houston Quilt Show with proceeds going to ovarian cancer research. She has donated her services and the batting to Quilts of Valor.
I asked her why she chose this side of quilting versus piecing, applique, or some other quiting direction. Cheryl said she falls into ‘a zone’ while moving around the quilt top and she calls it ‘therapy’. She said, “It is great for forgetting about problems and is a way to express myself'”. I asked her if there was any difficult part to this and she said, “Yes, ripping out threads”. We can certainly appreciate that. I have found my seam ripper to be my best friend at times!
As we talked, I realized there was much more to quilting with a longarm than just buying a machine. Cheryl has attended many conferences, classes, and had a lot of training. Learning to make these beautiful curves, lines, and designs is very similar to learning all the techniques the many aspects of quilting takes.
As we finished our coffee, I asked Cheryl if there was anything else she would like to share. She said, “It’s not about the profit but the artistic expression. I hope that the finished product and my artwork will make the quilt top stand out and compliment the beautiful work already done”. I think this year I’ll give my Row by Row quilt to Cheryl. I’m sure her magic touch will make it shine.