Open Letter to Longarmers

Dear Longarm Quilter,

Thank you for taking the time to quilt my quilt. I really appreciate your assistance, your artistry and your attention to detail.

I want to support your small business, which is one reason I come to you. I want you to be successful and I want to be able to recommend you to my friends. I was a small business owner in the not-too-distant-past, so I know it is hard work and can be thankless at times.

I have very high standards, which I will warn you about in advance. I have even higher standards for charity quilts. I do my best work on these quilts, so the recipients know I care. I expect the same from you. If you feel anxious about meeting those standards, please send me away with my quilt. I want my quilt done well and I don’t want to increase your anxiety level.  I will respect you for being honest.

Please remember that this is a collaborative effort and what I say to you in our initial meeting is pertinent to how I want my quilt quilted. I have worked hard on the piecing and want your quilting to fit well with my piecing design. Please do not overshadow my piecing with inappropriate quilting. Please do not try to sell me on your designs. Listen to what I want and tell me if you can’t, or don’t want, to do what I want. My quilt is not your playground to show off the quilting that would be much better suited for a whole cloth quilt.

I will tell you that my backs are always pieced and I don’t always press the seams open, that my quilts are almost never square (though not terribly off), and that I use fusible and raw edge applique’. If you can’t, or don’t want to, deal with any of these peculiarities, please tell me upfront. I’d rather know and find someone else.  I will respect you for being honest.

Please act professionally. Do not whine, after the fact, about my unsquare quilts, pieced backs or fusible applique’.  If you whine afterwards, I will suspect you are blaming me for your own poor longarming skills and I am not interested in excuses. If you have, or think you might have, a problem with my quilt, please don’t take it on in the first place.   I will respect you for being honest.

Please be generous about your competitors. Making snide comments about them does not endear me to you or make me loyal.

Please make sure your machine is in good working order. Please make sure you know how to load the back tightly so there are no pleats. Please clean the oil up so it doesn’t stain my quilt. If you do get a pleat or have a problem, I expect you to rip out the quilting and do it over AND not charge me for the time. Your mistake = your problem.

Please have the quilt done when you say it will be done. If it isn’t done, please call me and we can work out a new time to get the quilt. If I arrive and the quilt is not done and you are not working on it, I won’t be happy. Please be realistic about your commitments. Can you really finish my 5 quilts this week? REALLY?

Finally, if someone else picks up my quilts for me, don’t tell them that you screwed up and are glad they picked up the quilts instead of me since you knew I would be angry. If you think I will be mad, fix the problem. I have a phone and can call you. I can be angry over the phone.

Thank you, Love, J

Author: Jaye

Quiltmaker who enjoys writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.

8 thoughts on “Open Letter to Longarmers”

  1. I know this is not supposed to be funny (entirely), but you had me chuckling in SO many spots – the pained laughter of recognition.

  2. I’ve only had one experience with having someone else quilt my work. Happily, I was oblivious to the issues you bring up here. Also happily, the quilter and I ‘sync-ed’ and the result was lovely.

    I enjoy your blog and faithfully read it every morning. Oh! and that was an amazing tutorial for the star block… I read it all, but am SO not moved to make one myself!


  3. I am a longarm quilter. As I was reading, I had the urge to write a corresponding open letter to quilters who hire us. I actually don’t disagree with anything you’ve said. I’m sorry you had such a poor experience with someone in my industry.
    My letter would read something like this. I have high standards and I will treat the charity quilt you made with the same care and artistry as a show quilt. Therefore, the price is not reduced for charity quilts. Please tell me if you have ideas of what you’d like quilted. Do you have likes and dislikes? Please tell me if you think a design we talk about isn’t what you had in mind. Please don’t complain to your friends that your longarm quilter made your quilt not square when the right side measurement was 4 inches longer than the left side. Please don’t expect me to sew the seams together that you didn’t sew. I will call you and you can pick it up and fix it. I will teach you how to add borders so they won’t wave if you are open to instruction. On occasion a mistake happens. I will do everything I can to make it right. Please don’t take offense when I tell you that my needle broke and I had to time my machine because you left a pin on the back of the quilt top. I’m just cautioning you to check over your top before you bring it to me. I will do my best to “quilt it out” but sometimes I just can’t work miracles. I love quilting for you. I love to see how your work improves. I love to see your eyes light up when you pick your quilt up. It is a collaborative effort between you and me and therefore it is essential that we talk and are honest with each other. Please respect that even though I love my job, I don’t do it just for love. It is also a source of income and I am worth more than $5/hr.
    Love To All The Quilt Top Makers, Linda

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