FAQs


What is a “Long-arm Quilting Machine
What is a “Computer Guided System?”
What is a “Statler Stitcher™?”
Why use a computer guided system instead of or in addition to hand guiding?
What is “hand guiding?”
How long will it take to get my quilt back?
What type of quilting should I choose?
What should I consider when choosing patterns for my quilt?
Is polyester or cotton thread best?
What kind of batting is best?
Does it work to piece a quilt back?
What is the best fabric (natural or synthetic) for a quilt back?
Should I use a solid or a print fabric for the back on of my quilt?



What is a “Long-arm Quilting Machine?

Machine quilting has come a long way since I first started. It was a laborious and cumbersome process of moving all three layers through my stationary domestic sewing machine. Now I use a long-arm machine. A long-arm machine moves the sewing head instead of the fabric. The sewing machine has a large throat and rides on tracks so it can be moved forward, backward and side-to-side in any direction by guiding it from either the front or the back of the machine. A series of rollers are used to hold the lining, batting, and top fabric over a wide stand on which the sewing mechanism freely moves. Once the exposed fabric surface is quilted (up to approximately 24 square feet per pass on our machine), all three fabric layers are advanced simultaneously revealing the next area to be quilted.


What is a “Computer Guided System?”

A “Computer Guided System” is a feature added to a long-arm quilting machine that has hardware, a computer, and software which will guide the sewing head making it possible to precisely execute a wide variety of patterns from simple to intricate over and over again. Our computer guided system is the “Statler Stitcher™”


What is a “Statler Stitcher™?”

The "Statler Stitcher™" is a software program with hardware designed and built to operate a hand-guided quilting machine. The program can determine the pattern size, the size of the block, the stitches per inch, the repetitions of the pattern, and the offset of the pattern. The hardware includes the computer, cables, servo-motors, and computer circuit boards attached to a hand-guided sewing head, which is guided by the computer instead of by hand.


Why use a computer guided system instead of or in addition to hand guiding?

A computer guided system offers certain features:
  • Patterns are precise in every stitch, and can be accurately and uniformly repeated.
  • Each pattern can be modified or customized to make each creation one-of-a-kind.
  • Intricate patterns such as those that might be used for heirloom work can be stitched beautifully even by a beginner.
  • The computer can automatically resize or modify digitized designs to stretch or maintain proportions.
  • Patterns can be rotated to fit any direction in the quilt.
  • Designs can be positioned by the center, corners, start of pattern, etc.
  • Designs can be tested first by “sewing” with the needle off and using a laser light to see exactly where the design will go.
  • With a pen attached to the back, the machine can be set to draw a pattern on tissue paper; the drawing can be placed over a quilt to help in decisions about pattern design and placement.
  • Drive Belts can easily be disconnected to still allow hand guiding when desired.
  • New designs can be digitized and existing designs can be modified using Auto Sketch software, and then a design may be easily tested before use.


What is “hand guiding?”

Hand guiding is when a person physically controls or guides the movement of the long-arm sewing machine head to create the stitching pattern. It can be done totally free-hand, with a stylus and template, or a design can be traced by following it with a laser light. The stitch length is dependent upon the speed the sewing head moves in relation to the motor speed. A stitch regulator, which electronically controls the stitch length, is an option on some quilting machines used to guarantee a more even stitch length.


How long will it take to get my quilt back?

Our current time in the studio until your quilt is ready to be picked up or shipped out is about two to four weeks. If our turn-around time is likely to exceed four weeks we will let you know when you can expect it or you may contact us anytime to see exactly when you may expect it to be completed based on our current work load.


What type of quilting should I choose?

Types of quilting can include an overall pattern on the whole quilt, an overal pattern in the center of the quilt plus a border pattern(s) in the border(s) or custom quilting where patterns are placed in specific blocks, borders, sashing, etc.

Overall patterns are frequently used when:
  • The quilt will be used heavily or washed frequently
  • Fabrics are so busy or so interesting that they are the main feature and it would be hard to see the quilting no matter what pattern and thread is used.
  • A special theme that may or may not be in the fabrics is desired.
  • The piecer wants to draw less attention to the piecing.
  • Quilting needs to be done quicker (close time deadline.)
  • The budget for quilting is minimal or the customer just want to spend less.

Custom quilting:
  • Allows for a different type of creativity (patterns can be matched to blocks or other specific shapes / places, names, sayings or other text can be part of the quilting, different thread colors can be used in specific places, etc.)
  • Can highlight the piecing of the quilt (but can also draw more attention to less accurate piecing)
  • Can use coordinating patterns in borders, blocks, etc.
  • Is often (but not always) more densely quilted
  • Usually gives more of the “heirloom” look
  • Is more time intensive to pick patterns, to stitch, etc. thus, more of an investment


What should I consider when choosing patterns for my quilt?

  • How will the quilt be used: decorative, functional, heirloom, etc.
  • Who will the end user be? Do they have any preferences or special interests?
  • Scale of piecing: large, medium, small
  • Motifs or designs in the fabric
  • Degree of motion or busy-ness
  • Theme or Style


Is polyester or cotton thread best?

Both polyester and cotton threads can be used very nicely for quilting as well as some specialty threads such as metallic. It is often recommended that for piecing you use the same fiber in your thread as the quilt fabric so that they will wear the same. However, for quilting, either one works very well. Polyester or specialty threads often add strength and sheen and come in a wider variety of colors. Natural fiber threads are still popular. They create softer stitches and have little give or stretch. Cotton Thread will wear and fade at approx. the same rate as cotton fabric while Polyester thread color will tend not to fade.


What kind of batting is best?

There are many factors to consider which can help you make a wise choice.
  • How will the quilt be used? For show, as a wall hanging, by a baby or child, by a family with pets, or as a home decor item versus a “blanket,”
  • Is it likely to need frequent washing?
  • How much puffiness and what kind of drape versus stiffness will you want the quilt to have?
  • Do you need a flame retardant fiber as one might for a baby or child’s quilt?
  • Do you need a natural fiber such as cotton, wool, or silk?
  • How warm will the quilt need to be?
  • Price may be another consideration.
  • What color/s are your quilt top and backing? Will the color of batting that may show tthrough the lighter fabrics look OK?

Both cotton and cotton/polyester blend battings are all-around good choices for many quilts. Polyester may be warmer and have more puffiness or texture. Wool is warm, light wieght and adds a puffy texture like polyester. Wool also easily releases creases or wrinkles making it a good choice if you intend to enter a quilt to in a show or competition. There are flame retardant battings and newer battings made from eco-friendly materials. Standard batting colors are white, natural, and black although some battings are other colors depending on what they are made from. Occasionally fabrics such as cotton flannel or polar fleece are used as batting, especially when you want a flatter look or lighter weight.

We are happy to help you select batting that will meet your needs. Or for more detailed information about batting, click here.


Does it work to piece a quilt back?

YES, pieced backs can be used and may be quite attractive; however, when a quilt is finished on a longarm machine, it is possible to center the back ONLY ONE WAY due to the way the quilt is mounted and rolled it as it is quilted. For more detail about Quilt Backs click here.


What is the best fabric (natural or synthetic) for a quilt back?

Either natural or synthetic fabric will work well for a quilt back although use of a fabric which has the same fiber content as the top is recommended so all fabrics will wear evenly.
Other things to consider: bulk of fabric if seams are required and stretchiness of fabric. We have used fleece, Minkee and other stretchy fabrics with success however although every precaution is taken, tucks or puckering may occur during quilting. (Mounting stretchy fabrics with the selvage edge perpendicular to the pick-up roller on the machine will help reduce stretching, so plan accordingly if the back requires seams to make it large enough.)


Should I use a solid or a print fabric for the back of my quilt?

There are at least two schools of thought about backing fabrics. One preference is to use a print which hides stitching and any tie-off knots. The second preference is to choose a fabric that will showcase the stitching on the back in effect making your quilt “reversible.” If you want stitching to show on the back for a “reversible quilt,” think about thread colors that will work well on both front and back.


4683 E. Hillcrest Drive, Berrien Springs, Michigan, 49103
(269) 471-7359
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info@aaquilting.com

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