The cost of quilt top quilting varies across the country. Longarm charges can be set by the size such as throw, queen or king size. Some quilters charge by the square inch or foot. There can be additional charges such as thread or bobbin fees. Other variables include computerized quilting, a pantograph that is followed with a laser light or freemotion which is all hand guided. Also, you could choose to quilt edge-to-edge or select custom quilting or even perhaps a variety of edge-to-edge for the inside and custom edging for the borders. The type of batting and thread used can also make a difference in what you pay. Let's dive into the different items and see what questions you should be asking.
TYPES OF QUILTING
A pantograph is a design drawn on a piece of paper. The quilter follows the design with a laser light. Maybe the quilter has done this for years and can follow the design accurately. On the other hand it could be someone that has only been quilting using a pantograph for a few months or maybe a year. Their skill level is different. It takes practice to learn to follow a design with a laser light. Ask the quilter how long they have been quilting using a pantograph. Ask how they charge, is it by the design you pick and square inch. Pricing for pantographs varies.
A free motion quilter will use their hands to guide the machine with skill and precision. They simulate drawing or doodling by moving the machine or they use rulers to guide the hopping foot next to the ruler to create designs. Just like learning to play an instrument, it takes a lot of practice. You also can't see the design they are going to use. You might be able to say, I like feathers, swirls, or flowers. Before I became a quilter I would tell the free motion quilter to do what she thought would look good. I didn't have much input on what it would look like. You should also ask how long they have been quilting free motion. What I have found is free motion quilting can vary in price a great deal.
The third type of quilter will use a computer program that quilts the pattern loaded into the machine's program. But even with this there are choices to make. Does your quilter show you 3 or 4 designs for you to choose from or do they show you a book of designs? They might charge by the density of the design. Some designs could start at .015 to .05 a square inch. How long has the quilter been using a computer program? The quilter still needs to know the program and how to line up each roll of the quilt. Do they know how to line up the design if the computer has a motor error and shuts down? It's not as easy as just pushing a button.
THREAD CHARGES AND QUALITY
Some quilters charge a bobbin fee for each time they put in a full bobbin. Ask if they charge a bobbin fee.
Quilters can charge a one time thread fee. Ask if there's a thread fee.
Quilters can use different threads that can be of a lesser quality. Ask what brand of thread they use.
Some quilters do not charge a thread fee.
There are a lot of different battings you can buy or the quilter might carry. The one I refuse to quilt with is Mountain Mist. In my opinion it's a poor quality batting and I want your quilt to last for many decades. But if you don't ask your quilter what batting they are going to use you have no control and they will use what they want.
Do you want cotton, polyester, bamboo or maybe wool? Do you want it to be thin, medium, thick or do you want it to look puffy? When you wash your quilt do you like it to look crinkly like a vintage quilt or smooth like it's never been washed? Has your quilter ever asked you any of these questions so you could decide?
YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH ME
I will try to help you achieve the finished quilt you want. You spent a lot of time and money making your beautiful quilt top. I want you to pick the design, the color of thread and the type of batting that will give you the finished quilt you imagined.
When I decided to start quilting for customers using the Prostitcher computer program and quilting edge-to-edge I wanted to make the pricing easy. I didn't want to have to keep track of how many bobbins I used. My pricing is by the square inch and the design that's picked. The price for edge-to-edge can be from .02 a square inch to .05 a square inch. I have a book with hundreds of designs for you to look through and choose the one you like. If you're mailing your quilt to me I will have you go on the websites I buy patterns from to see if there are patterns you like. I can see if I have the pattern or if I don't I'll split the cost of the pattern with you.
I use a very good quality thread, So Fine by Superior Thread Company. It comes in a large variety of colors to choose from.
I use the best quality batting from Quilter's Dream. You can choose the type of material it's made from and the thickness you want.
I offer quilt trimming for a minimal fee because a lot of quilters don't have room to trim their quilt.
Binding is another service I offer. I will machine sew to the front and hand stitch to the back.
I want your experience to be fun, enjoyable, easy and most importantly I want you to end up with a beautiful completed quilt.