Quilting Outsourcers vs. Quilting DIY-ers


Here we are, Quilter’s Mart Buddies! We’ve arrived at our fourth and final Quilter’s Mart Personality Test category. And this one is a doozy.

We’ve already gone through the first three categories:
  1. Fabric Hoarders vs. Fabric Minimalists
  2. Project Multitaskers vs. Project one-at-a-timers
  3. Pattern Followers vs. Pattern Creators

Today’s is a classic showdown, but with a twist - subcategories!

Are you a Quilting Outsourcer, or a Quilting DIY-er?

Quilting Outsourcer

Personally, I can totally relate to the Quilting Outsourcer mindset. The actual act of quilting is my least favorite part of the process of making a quilt. I’m not exactly sure why I don’t like it, but I find it to be tedious and tiresome, and I just want to get it over with.

However, the closest I’ve ever come to actually outsourcing the quilting step is throwing a quilt at Nancy the Quilting Goddess and asking her to do it for me. That quilt still hasn’t made its way back to me, so I can only guess it is still hiding in a bag at her house, and my attempt at outsourcing has so far failed. But there’s still hope!

I think outsourcing quilting is great for those who don’t like it, like me, but also for those who lack the proper equipment, time, or training/skill. Quilting is a true art form, no matter how it is done, and sometimes leaving it to the professionals is a great way to go!

Quilting DIY-ers

I think there are 4 sub-categories of Quilting DIY-ers. Let me know if I’ve missed a sub-category in the comments!

  1. Long-Arm Quilters
  2. Basic Machine Quilters
  3. Free-Motion Quilters
  4. Hand Quilters

Ultimately, I am a Quilting DIY-er, sub-category Long-Arm Quilter.

Nowadays, I avail myself of easy access to the long-arm machine at Nancy the Quilting Goddess’ house, lovingly dubbed “Lenni”, and count my lucky stars each time I use him.

The beauty of quilting with a long-arm is that you can see a large area of the quilt at once, and you can therefore work with more elaborate designs more easily.

Plus, it is fast. For me, it usually takes hours, rather than days, to get a project completely quilted. It satisfies my desire to get this stage done as quickly as possible!

Photo by Jeff Wade on Unsplash

Before Lenni, I was a Basic Machine Quilter, all the way. I would attach my walking foot, and fold and stuff quilts through the tiny opening in my machine, usually “stitching in the ditch”.

Is that common quilting lingo? Or just something Nancy and I say? For the unfamiliar, “stitching in the ditch” is aligning your quilting stitches in the seams of the pieced quilt top. I loved this method because it was just straight lines, and if I used a thread that blended with my quilt top, it was difficult to see my quilting. It was a great technique for hiding my wobbly lines and mistakes.

Let me tell you, I was grateful when Lenni came along and saved me from doing this. I’ll never forget the time I was quilting my brother’s king size quilt in an un-air conditioned house in the middle of a heat wave. I have never been so hot as I was wrestling that giant quilt through my machine!

I tried my hand at becoming a Free-Motion Quilter but once. Free-motion quilting uses a traditional sewing machine, but with a special foot so you can maneuver in any direction, instead of only forward and backward.

It is like long-arm quilting, but way harder. I was especially challenged by this because the machine I was working on didn’t have a stitch regulation function, which meant that I had to be careful to keep both my movements and the movement of the needle at constant speeds, lest my stitches all end up at different lengths. Which they did. Frequently.

The end result of that endeavour was a table runner that was made with love... Let’s just leave it at that.

I have never been tempted to become a Hand Quilter. But this sub-category of quilters has my deepest admiration. I imagine it requires (pun alert!) a large handful of patience, the absence of a deadline, and a sturdy thimble. I am usually lacking in all three of those, and have therefore never given hand quilting a shot.

But oh goodness, are hand quilted quilts a sight to see!

The closest I’ve come to hand quilting, is using some embroidery thread to add a cute little knot in the middle of a square on a baby blanket to give the quilt a bit of texture and 3D pizzazz.

The end result is the same no matter what method you prefer - a beautiful quilt! But tell me, readers, what category (+ sub-category) do you fall into? Are you a Quilting DIY-er, or a Quilting Outsourcer?

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  • Carolyn Knees
Comments 21
  • Elizabeth Gray
    Elizabeth Gray

    I am a DIY-er, I love quilting and have done it pretty much all ways possible. I invested in a 16" mid arm machine and a small foot table and quilt most of my quilts on that. I love to do ruler quilting and most of my quilts are for QOV. When I am away from home I try and find a quilting group that has a quilt set up that you can go in and work on, thus hand quilting has now become a good source of relaxation and making new friends.

  • Carol

    So far I have only made baby quilts and tablerunners and have machine quilted them. I have 2 twin size coming up and will attempt to do them on my machine and if all else fails, take them to work and do it on the long arm there. That long arm is old and does not have good hand control so if I can do straight lines or a large overall pattern I’m okay. I don’t know if I can stand to send my quilts out to be quilted. I do have a local long arm quilter so I would save money on shipping. As for the other catergories, fabric hoarder, multitasker, pattern follower (mostly), and quilt diy-er.

  • Cathy P
    Cathy P

    I recently purchased a long arm but have yet to do a quilt, I am still in the practicing with the new machine mode. I am however madly in love with FMQ. I use my Viking Epic and quilt at my sewing table. I love everything about the process but mostly touching the fabic. I am also a weaver, so very tactile.

  • Kathie

    It depends on the size of the quilt. I will tackle baby quilts and laprobes. Anything larger goes to my wonderful longarm quilter. She is worth every penny. My Mom used to quilt everything by hand including all the piecing. I was very intimidated and never made any quilts until long after she died. I think she would be proud of my efforts.

  • Diane Patton
    Diane Patton

    There is now a fifth method! If you have an embroidery machine you can buy a quilting disk. Put the fabric sandwich in the hoop and let it Quilt the design you have chosen!

  • Carol Saloga
    Carol Saloga

    I’m a DIY’r. Personal satisfaction for me comes because I did it all myself.

  • Carolyn Lewis
    Carolyn Lewis

    Sadly I’m am a Quilting Outsourcer. I lack the skills and I have a domestic machine and don’t want to fight or wrestle the the quilts that are usually king size. So as long as I can afford to I will send them to be done by a Longarm Professional.

  • Carmen Grant
    Carmen Grant

    I’m a FMQ on my domestic sewing machine, and although I’m only able to do a basic meander, it works for me. I have bought a 20" Bailey, earlier this year, but have been so busy with working and life, I haven’t quilted but one lap quilt on it, BUT I do have 15 tops to practice on.

    I simply can’t afford to send my quilts out, and I don’t need any fancy quilting on it, so meander is fine for me.

  • Nancy aka The Godess
    Nancy aka The Godess

    OK you’ve guilted me on the internet….I will finish that quilt soon, I promise…love you, sweetie!

  • Debra Brown
    Debra Brown

    I am a DIY er & use a sit down quilting machine. This is similar to using a domestic machine but much easier with 16 inches of space, a stitch regulator & it sits on its own flat surface. I love my Baby Lock Tiara.

  • Debby Gregory
    Debby Gregory

    I, like you, Carolyn, like the quilting part the least! I love piecing tops, but getting them quilted? I don’t have a quilting goddess with a long arm machine near me, and lack the financial means to always send them out. So, I have lots of tops languishing in my jelly cupboard in my sewing room. :( I can manage the baby quilts on my machine, but that’s it. I have a quilting frame, and there are some of the tops I will prefer to do by hand because I want to do more elaborate quilting on them. So, I will continue to piece the tops, and, wish that there will some day be some magical quilting fairies who will come in the night to finish them! :D

  • Marge Wernick
    Marge Wernick

    I have been quilting for approximately 25 years but more active in the last 10. I tried the free motion quilting in a class that I took and decided it wasn’t my cup of tea. So, I guess I’m a “quilting-outsourcer.” I met the daughter of a quilt store owner and she would do custom quilting. My notes to her were “do what you think will look good.” She was great and then moved 3 hours away. I found another long-arm quilter that uses patterns. The closest I come to a DIY quilter is making “rag-quilts”. I’ve made over a dozen of them for family and friends.

  • Terry Carney
    Terry Carney

    It appears that I am a
    Fabric minimalist
    Project one at a time (although this could be debated)
    Pattern follower
    Quilting DIY-FMQ

    This blog series has been fun to follow!

  • Carol Taylor
    Carol Taylor

    I love your blog posts. I have just read through all of them and they have inspired me to get back to my passion of quilting. I am a simple quilter who loves the creative side of design so color and shape are fascinating when I am working on something. I look forward to hearing more from the you! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • Sheryl

    Maybe it’s a matter of pride; I just can’t shake the need to be the one that quilts my quilts. So yes, I am a diy(er). I follow 2 categories: hand quilter and basic machine quiler, using a walking foot. I have an 820 Bernina which has a larger area to work in. Deciding which type of quilting I will use depends on who the quilt is for. I generally will tie a quilt for babies since they are washed over and over. Anything I consider to be an heirloom gets hand quilted. It doesn’t take as long as you think. I hand quilted a king size quilt for my dad’s 80th birthday in a little under 2 weeks. It went everywhere with me, long drives, waiting rooms, family visits, etc. It was very special to do that labor of love. When I don’t know how the recipient will treat the quilt, I definitely machine quilt. It 2 weeks to machine quilt the queen size I made for my mother in law since it couldn’t be taken along with me anywhere. It too was a labor of love.

  • Debbie Craine
    Debbie Craine

    I am a basic machine quilter but would like to try my hand at hand quilting.

  • Lonnie Lane
    Lonnie Lane

    The whole idea of long arm terrifies me. But then again, so does hand quilting. So far I’m a Stitch in the ditch kind of gal. BTW, I’m a writer and I appreciate your style and gift with words, drawing your audience in like friends. I read them more for the writing than the quilt info actually. That’s a compliment in case you wondered. Good job!

  • KAREN McBride
    KAREN McBride

    I quilt on my home machine and also hand quilt.

  • Eileen

    I am a hand quilter and love it. I quilt on a quilt frame and lap quilt as well. I hate machine quilting and have given up on it. It may take me longer to finish a quilt but when it is done I know it is truly mine. I cannot see any computer aided quilting as real quilting, though it is what you see more and more at quilt shows and will likely take over.

  • beth

    I am both and quilting diy and outsourcer. I outsource when it is too large a quilt to do on my sewing machine.

  • Tisa Styer
    Tisa Styer

    I tried free motion with my sewing machine but have never been satisfied with the results. I use my walking foot and have liked that much better however, I still struggle with the look. And I’m just not willing to box my quilt up and send it off & pay for all that shipping and quilting by the inch. I do more and more small projects that I can finish and quilt. So YES! I’m a DIY-er!

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