Machine Quilting Myth #2

Machine Quilting Myth #2
You can quilt two, three or more quilts per day!

Machine Quilting Myth #2 is a “sister” to Machine Quilting Myth #1. The reasoning goes that if it takes only an hour or two to quilt a quilt (Myth #1), than you should be able to quilt three or more quilts per day. Please, DON’T BELIEVE THIS! If you read the comments to Machine Quilting Myth #1, you will quickly realize that it takes MUCH longer than two or three hours to complete a quilt on a quilting machine. Can someone quilt more than one quilt per day?  Yes, it can be done and I have done it.

But … what is being quilted and what is the quality of the quilting.If the quilts are small, such as baby size quilts to a twin size quilt, you could do two per day, but I would think that the quilting would be more all over, edge to edge or pantograph work. Not that any of these techniques are “bad”, they are usually less time-consuming than custom work.

If the quilts are smaller and are using the same backing fabric, I’ll either put both quilts onto the quilting machine at the same time. Or,  I’ll measure, then mount the backing fabric on the machine for the two quilts, Then I’ll put the first quilt top on, quilt it, and then put the next quilt top on below the first quilt and continue quilting until finished.(Both quilts will be rolled onto the take up roller.)  If these quilts use different backings, then they need to be on the machine individually.

But other questions that this myth raises are – Do you REALLY want to be quilting more than one quilt per day? Let’s assume that the quilts are not small, but larger, maybe larger twin to king size. Do you want to be under pressure to quilt two (or more) large quilts per day? What kind of toll will be paid to your body, your mind, and your sanity if this pace is continued for a short while? Or over a long period of time? Will you have a life or time for family, friends or your community? Will you have time to complete your own quilts and projects?

I have written a short article title “How Many Quilts Can You Quilt?” It is in a pdf file and you can view it by Clicking Here  

Here are some questions for you and please post your answers as a Comment or send them directly to me at longarmu@aol.com

Have you every completed two or more quilts in one day?

If yes, what were their approximate sizes and what did you quilt on them? These answers don’t need to be specific, especially if you did this a while ago.

If you do quilt more than one quilt per day on a reasonably consistent basis, what sizes are the quilts (approximate) and what do you usually quilt on them.

Do you “group” the quilts together on one backing or do you mount each quilt individually on the quilt machine?

If you have any other comments on this topic, please post them.  I know we all learn a lot from what others have to say.

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About Cindy Roth
Mother of 3, Grandmother of 11 and quilting forever!

17 Responses to Machine Quilting Myth #2

  1. Cathy H says:

    I have a Gam Classic with SS. I added it just over a year ago and am so glad I did. Is computer understanding hard? Yes and no. There are many great people out there to help you if you ask. You can be up and running very quickly. Still not as fast as FH but much easier on your body.

    I have taken in quilts full time for a year now. I can complete the quilting on an e2e for most quilts in one afternoon. I like to do 4 twin to queen size each week. That gives me time to have a life and not kill my body. Monday, Tuesday then Thursday and Friday. Saturday for clean ups.

    As for taking in the tops….they are by appointment. That way I can schedule my mornings for me time and quilt later in the day. The hard part is the feast or famine deal. Never enough to do and then they are coming out your ears and wanting them tomorrow! Just God bless the Chirstmas customer rush.

    Also get ready for the different level of quilter out there. Great piecers and the not so….love them all. We can help them complete their dreams. And that is why we do it.

    Cathy H, Gaylord, MI

  2. Jan Dahlke says:

    Mary, you will love working with your Gammill Optimum w/Statler. I am a big fan and you can sure save your back with the computer guided stitching. I started freehand with the Gammill Classic Plus, loved freehand work, but wanted to bump up my design options, so I graduated to the Optimum w/Statler. My 12 foot long frame barely fit in my upstairs loft. If I had the space the only thing I would do differently would have been to get the 14 foot, because I like bed size quilts, and many customers have made huge quilts. With the 12 foot, I had no trouble mounting the big quilts, but it was sometimes difficult to get my hands under to the bobbin area because the quilt was there. As for doing more than one quilt in a day, I agree with Marie. It can be done, and I have done it; but, you may not really want to do it. Like Vicki, I have also sewn backs together if they were similar in size, especially in smaller quilts. In most cases, no need to hurry. Even as a professional quilter, haste can make waste! Strive for quality and efficiency. Quilting time will depend so much on quilt size, quilting style, and density of design. You get to make the choices, and when you get your Statler and folks see your work, I am sure it won’t be long before people are begging you to quilt for them. So, even though your plan is to quilt for yourself, I highly recommend you be thinking what you will charge for your work, because you want to be ready when they ask. Don’t sell yourself short, either! Your work will look beautiful from the very start with Statler, and you will love all the amazing things it can do, so take advantage of the Statler videos and DVD tutorials available, some even free. Your rep will guide you, and forums like this can be lifesavers. I have learned SO MUCH from Longarm University over the past 6 years (Thanks,Cindy!!). There is also a special Statler Sisters Yahoo forum chat group; when you get yours, sign up for sure. Basic quilting can be learned the first day, and as you feel more comfortable with your work, you can be breezing along in no time. Many machine quilters are always standing by to help you. Have a blast!
    Jan D. in Weed, CA

  3. Vicki says:

    I have done several quilts in a day. here is how. they are baby quilts for charity and all the same size. I use a chain stitch (you could baste) and sew the backs together. Then load as one backing. Then I put each top on, quilt it with a medium meander ( I can do this fast), roll to the next backing add the next top and off I go. I think the most I did was 5. Most of them time If I get one done in a day it is small twin or smaller. I aim for 2 a week, this way when I get a big king I can take several days to work on it.

    Vicki Mc in SC

  4. H Davis says:

    Mary,

    The machines do come in various lengths with 14′ and 12′ the most popular but I think there is even a 10′ table available from Gammill. If you’re buying new you can investigate all those possibilities. If you’re buying used you might be able to trade a table for what you want with someone else or with Gammill.

    Only you, of course, know what you need based on what you intend to do.

    H Davis

  5. Mary Gilbert says:

    Thank you for all the information! I want to buy a Gammill w/Statler mainly for personal pleasure and if I get good enough, take on a couple of customers via word of mouth. My biggest obstacle isn’t so much the time, but where to put it…it is SO long….my husband is freakin out over that! The huge pricetag may force me to take on customers at some point….too much pressure! I’m just saving my pennies for this baby….can’t wait to get one!

  6. maggie says:

    Thank you for this Blog. I’ve signed up to receive new entries by email.
    I seldom quilt for others so number of hours hasn’t ever been an issue. it often takes me longer to settle on the thread and pattern than does the actual quilting. I’m guessing 8 – 10 hours per queen size quilt. I have done multiple doll quilts all on the same backing fabric in one stretch. but these are generally 18 x 25 inches.
    interesting comments too.
    thanks
    maggie

  7. Jane Coons says:

    In relation to doing more than one quilt in a day, yes, one time and they were twins. It took all day and I don’t do that anymore. I try to quilt 6 hours a day, but often that doesn’t happen. My first 6 years, I stitched with a Gammill Classic Plus which has a stitch regulator. You must limit the constant time spent quilting–it is too hard on the body. I did do a fill design on a broken star quilt in all those open areas, I blew out my right shoulder–recovery took longer than a year!
    In 2009, I purchased a Statler and found that that really slowed me down. You now have to sychronize your design style with a machine that has limitations on speed that is part of the computerized system. Sometimes even 100% speed does not translate into the same speed of hand-guided quilting. In the end the computerized system was a good decision. It has saved the wear and tear on my body. It has offered me a different look and scope of quilting. Hope this was helpful.

  8. Mary Gilbert says:

    I don’t have a longarm (yet), but would it go faster with a Statler Stitcher or any type of computerized add-on? Would this cut down on time…and if not, wouldn’t it help the wear and tear on us?

    • Cindy Roth says:

      I don’t have a Statler or a computerized system, but I did send a message to some online quilting groups I belong to. I am hoping that the computerized quilters in the groups will respond and give you the answers to your question.

      Cindy Roth

      • Quiltedsquid says:

        My arm is able to do computerized quilting. I can’t say it’s any faster it may be even longer to get a quilt done. With designing, layout, and quilting process takes time. But the time it’s doing the quilting for me I can get other things done around the house cooking, cleaning, laundry and surfing the net. I’m fairly new to LA and am learning my FMQ. I just completed my first without the use of computer or templates. It was faster but I found myself getting bored and couldn’t wait to finish. But I was so proud of myself because it was all me and my own feathers and swirls. Even with a computer I haven’t done more than one quilt in a day.

    • Marie Tallman says:

      I have had my Statler Stitcher for 6 years. I quilt for others, without a helper and it’s how I make my living. First of all, it is not “just push a button and walk away” as I hear all the time! In the beginning I was able to basically skip the handguiding learning curve and begin quilting for others within a few weeks…so the machine started paying for itself right away.

      With a Statler Stitcher I regularly do more than one quilt a day. It takes as long to load a quilt for a computerized machine as it does on a hand guided machine…no saving in time there. But…especially when doing an E2E…the program is doing the guiding and my hands are free to do something else…like get the next quilt ready and pinned to the zipperd leaders. I can be sitting while doing this…thus saving my body.

      When I am doing a custom quilt, I am pretty much tied to the machine as a handguider is and I cannot do two a day. But I’ll set up a section or a block on the computer and then I can sit while I monitor the stitching process. But even then I’ll usually be multi tasking during the stitching too…returning phone calls, pulling out basting, having a cup of tea, etc. I don’t have to mark the quilt, I don’t wrestle with rullers or templates twisting my wrist into a direction it doesn’t want to go or leaning and stretching over the table.

      That said, in the last couple of years I have been doing more handguided fills combining them with the computer stitched designs.

      Since the ugly truth is that none of us are getting any younger, the computerized system is a way to preserve what you’ve got. I’m looking forward to one day cutting back on quilts for others and doing more of my own…and still being able to do it physically and enjoy it.

  9. Sheryl Johnson says:

    I have only been longarm quilting for two years, on a very part-time basis as I work full time at a ‘day’ job, and my longarm machine is set up at my mother’s house (an hour away from my home). I did one time quilt two quilts in a day. They were charity baby quilts that had been pieced by others, each measuring only 36″x36″. I did a very easy meandering stitch on both, but had to load each separately onto the machine as the backings were different. They were so small it was fairly easy, but I probably wouldn’t try it on anything larger.

  10. Pam Huggins says:

    I’ve been longarm quilting for about 6 years. In that time, I have only a few times done 2 quilts or more in a day when they are smaller things. Each year, when our guild does their service project, i’ve had backing fabrics that i can just sew together and then i loaded that all as one piece, and quilted up to 4 lap robe sized quilts. I cut them apart afterwards. They were only done with some type of meandering and it was tiring. I usually don’t quilt for more than 6 hours a day because it’s just too much for both body and mind. This year our church group is doing quilts for Kids Alive International in Haiti and even tho i have many to do, i still find 2 is plenty in a day. During my regular work week, i never have done more than one in a day and the ones that are custom quilted, can take days to complete. Often i’d say it’s more like 2 a week. I totally agree with Cindy that that type of schedule will wear you out and burn you out! I like to have some time for family, friends and play too. Isn’t that one of the reasons we chose to be self-employed?

    Pam Huggins

  11. H Davis says:

    I see that most of the folks that responded to Myth #1 and #2 appear to be single quilters. By that I mean you do it all from start to finish. Also there appear to be various levels of commitment (for lack of a better word). Some are doing their own quilting for their own enjoyment and some appear to have a sideline business.

    We are a couple that quilt essentially full time (about 6 hours/day and usually 5 days a week) as our only source of income. This definitely alters your outlook. It’s a job, there’s no getting around that and we have to be disciplined about getting the work done or the bills don’t get paid. That said, Cindy is right, the last quilt of the day is harder than the first so we have developed a rhythm of work and breaks that keeps the quality up.

    One of us does all the quilting and the other does nearly everything else. This allows us to spread the load over 2 old bodies but does allow us to get 2 larger quilts done in a day if we have to. Remember that the quilter is only quilting, the assistant (that would be me) gets the quilt measured, squared up and mounted on the machine. I also take it off, trim it if desired, make the binding if we’re binding it (the boss actually puts the binding on the quilt), clean off the thread tails, inspect it, make out the bill, bag up the quilt and call the customer.

    This lets each of us do what we’re best at. I have no artistic ability at all but I’m better organized so we have evolved into a very productive division of labor. This lets the quilter take a break between quilts while I get one off and another on. She’s a morning person so I make sure there’s a quilt on the machine before I quit for the day so she can get right to work when she gets up. She feels she’s most productive at this hour. After an hour or so I’m up and we have breakfast and she gets a break. I keep several quilts pre-prepped and waiting to go. As I see how the day is progressing I decide which quilt will come next, usually based on size. We like to finish the quilt and not carry a partially done quilt over to the next day.

    As some others have noted health issues loom large. We learned early that this could be a problem and fitted our work area out with rubber mats, a good efficient layout, good lighting, good shoes, etc, etc. We have also set our daily schedule to allow for about 3 breaks during the day and one of us (that wouldn’t be me) often takes a quick nap after lunch while I’m trying to catch up. Luckily both of us are in good health but realize that that could change at any time so we’re doing as much as we comfortably can while we can. We didn’t start out with this schedule we evolved into it and, believe me, you have to get conditioned to the routine. Trying to work 6 hours a day just starting out just won’t work. You have to find out what your body can do and if you have any “issues” (who doesn’t have issues). It took us about 2 years to develop our current rhythm.

    So ladies, if DH is approaching retirement with trepidation and fears of being idle, it may be time to introduce him to the joys of being a quilters assistant. You can entice him by describing the job as “quilting machine maintenance” or some other suitably macho phrase but you and I will know what you really want him to do (the grunt work). The pay’s not very good (my boss promises to double my pay any day now) but if you can work together daily you might be able to offload some of those jobs you really don’t want to do. I admit working together is not something every couple can do while maintaining domestic harmony. Just a thought.

    H Davis

  12. Elaine says:

    I have quilted more than one quilt in a day but they were small – baby quilt size – and not very intense quilting on them. I can usually quilt for about 6 hours per day. I take a break about every 2 hours and do stretching exercises.

    I haven’t ever loaded two quilts on the machine at one time, but I have loaded placemats all at the same time.

    I sure enjoy this blog.

  13. Pat Goodman says:

    I have quilted more than 1 quilt a day when I used the same backing and the pieces were tablerunners or very small wall hangings. I have been in business 8 years and have developed physical problems as a result of quilting. I have had a bad back for years but my back is getting worse; my feet bother me and I can only quilt when wearing my Dansko stapled clogs (expensive but well worth the money); I developed very bad tendonitis and, after wearing a brace for more than a year and after physical therapy, I still have to be careful about how long I quilt.

    I take yoga classes to mitigate the physical problems but working an office job was much easier on my body than quilting is. I don’t think new quilters realize just what a physical toll quilting takes on your body.

    Perhaps if a person is younger than I am (64) and doesn’t have arthritis or other problems, the person could quilt more than 1 lap or larger quilt in a day if doing a panto but I have to ask why anyone would put themselves through that kind of physical punishment.

    I love quilting but really don’t want to do it 16 hours a day. There is more to life than quilting customer quilts. I need time to live my life and make time for other things that are important to my health, sanity and family relations.

    No one can get rich quilting for a living but the benefit for the low pay is the freedom from set hours, a boss hovering over you and the ability to run out during the day and get shopping, banking, etc. done.

  14. Linda Chanik says:

    I have never done a quilt in one day. After about 6 hours my quilting starts to go downhill so have learned it’s better to just stop and avoid having to rip-out. From loading through binding that’s not enough time for me, even on a small quilt. (Don’t know about edge-to-edge…haven’t tried that.)

    I’m always amazed at how drained I feel after a long session…am I just a wimp or is that common 😉 ?

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