I work with people throughout the US and the world, but when I can, I love working with quilters in the local Denver, CO area. Why? Discussion. It’s the key to a happy, artistic final product. Whoever you are choosing to finish your quilt, make sure and discuss the following topics:
1. The history of the quilt: who is it for, what they might like, themes you might want to use. Obviously, a baby quilt will have different requirements than a wall-hanging, but subtleties can make or break a quilt. I was picking up one long-arm quilt for a client, and we were discussing some options, but it wasn’t until they mentioned it was commemorative of a snorkeling trip that I found the perfect pattern. Otherwise, the quilt would have been just ho-hum; now it is fabulous. See the Underwater Quilt page.
2. Thread color. It is amazing how the choice of thread color can affect a quilt. Look at the first beautiful quilt below. A very nicely set of chosen colors, but what do you quilt it with? We chose a maroon variegated thread, which allowed the quilting to sink into the quilt, so you can admire the piecing. You can choose thread to coordinate or contrast with the quilt; sink into the piecing or stand out. But without a face-to-face meeting with your quilter (I bring hundreds of thread color samples with me when we meet, and believe me, we need them all!), you may be surprised with the quilting you get!
3. Batting and Backing. Oh my gosh, how much bad batting is there in the world! Make sure and talk to your quilter about your batting choices — I like carrying Quilter’s Dream, because they have a number of weights (thicknesses) of cotton to choose from, along with polyester, a poly/cotton mix, wool, and recycled bottles! Choosing your batting should depend on the purpose of a quilt — a wall hanging quilt will need drastically different batting than a baby’s quilt, which will need different batting than a king-size bed quilt. Don’t pick up the default batting at your local craft store — make a knowledgeable decision.
As far as backing goes, resist the urge to spend as little as possible on backing. I know, you’ve already spent $200+ on piecing the quilt, $25-50 (hopefully) on quality batting, and you could just get away with muslin for the back. Resist the temptation! Choice of backing fabric will effect how the quilting shows up on the back, the tension of the entire quilt, and can add dramatic interest. Traditionally, quilting is done with the same thread top and bottom, so you might want to choose a backing fabric that would include all of the quilting thread colors. Now, we can quilt with one color on the bobbin, but you may still see some “poke-throughs” of the top fabric, so the principle still applies.
4. Finally, of course, design choices. There are thousands of patterns out there, and it can be difficult to choose. I find it is useful when a client describes the quilt or emails me a picture before we meet, so we can start thinking about it ahead of time. For example, in the second quilt above, the client told me it was a quarter-circle quilt, so I was able to pull out a subset of patterns before I even saw the quilt for the first time!
I hope you see the value of a face-to-face meeting with your quilter, if possible. I hope to see you soon!