The Three Types of Quilts

I wanted to share with you my philosophy on the three types of quilts and how I use this in my every day. We make quilts for all sorts of occasions and reasons and honestly, that's what makes the world go round. But when I really started coming up with and sharing this idea was when I really started long arm quilting for more and more people.

We each have our own style and vision for what we want this quilt to be when "it's all grown up" and finished. Sometimes we have a recipient in mind while some quilts are made just because. If you attempt to classify your quilt and share with your quilter what your "game plan" is, it will help your quilter see your vision and be on the same page as you.

When I get a new quilt from a client, I usually ask a few questions if I don't already know the details through previous conversations. The pertinents are:

1. Who is this quilt going to? I'm not going to quilt a gift for a young girl the same way I would for a grown man. (And yes I have assumed before I've talked to customers and assumed wrong on several occasions)

2. How is this quilt going to be used? Is it a bed quilt that will be washed and used, is it a lounging quilt that will see a lot of abuse or is it going to be a wall hanging that will rarely, if ever, get washed?

Usually with those two key pieces of information, I have a much clearer idea of how to quilt each project. After that comes in the specifics of thread color and design, but it's much harder to narrow down these choices without the prior information. With this in mind, it's much easier to move onto the options below:

The Three Types of Quilts:

1. Love, Use & Abuse
Paco loving, using and abusing one of my quilts (that he stole for his nest)
These quilts are going to be washed and played on. These quilts usually live on a couch or the floor or a bed. Baby and toddler quilts that get use typically fall into this category for the sheer fact that you never know where they will end up and what will be on them at the end of the day.

I also throw lap quilts, travel quilts for the car, and quilts that see use everyday or seasonally into this category. Face it, these quilts are the quilts with the stories and the smiles and the wear and tear. Many of my quilts fall into this category when I just made it to make it. If I don't have a purpose for a quilt or an intended recipient, it may live on my couch. I usually quilt this type of project more for function than style. Usually an all over design is the way to go.

I could custom quilt a baby quilt for you, but do you really want to spend all of that money for a potential spit rag or diaper changing station??? This is where I try to counsel my clients on the realities of their quilt's futures. If you want glitz and glam and all of the bells and whistles I can quilt into your quilt, I'll do it, but I wouldn't want you to be disappointed when you see that quilt being drug across the floor later on or being shared with a dog. If a quilt is going to be a present that will be used, I don't want you to shed a tear when you actually see it being used.

2. Gift Quilts
Now this may seem contradictory to the first category, but let me explain. Not many quilters keep their own creations, right? Most quilters I know have only a fraction of the quilts that they've made if they've kept any at all. So with that said, I know most quilts will be gifts, however, this category is directed for more milestone occasions. 

There are two opposites of this spectrum in this category. First, there are the gifts that fall more into the Love, Use, & Abuse category. These are quilts for the family at Christmas or for your son's birthday. Quilts that will be used and loved and usually quilted with an all over design.

The other side of the spectrum is the heirloom gift quilt. This would be the quilt you're making for your daughter's wedding present or for a family tree. Sometimes even a graduation quilt depending on the circumstance could fall into this category.

The main difference between the options here, is the intended use. Is it going to be loved and abused? Or will this quilt be used and treasured and handed down or placed in a hope chest? Quilts intended for more of an heirloom future I typically quilt custom or semi custom. Usually, these quilt are a more complex pattern that the maker would appreciate the same love and devotion quilted into it as the time and energy they spent creating the top.

Now don't think I don't put this energy into every quilt I finish, but some quilts deserve a little extra attention. I wouldn't expect someone to put months of late nights into a gorgeous quilt and suggest a simple design. And vice versa, most people wouldn't expect custom quilting on a simple top that took them an afternoon to create.

3. Show Quilts
Claudia's Eureka Quilt (see more custom quilting here and here)
As you could probably guess, these quilts have typically one intention when they're being created. They are going to hang at a show and they are supposed to wow the viewer. Wall hangings also can fall into this category because with the little amount of wear and tear they experience, I usually quilt them differently too. 

With wall hangings, I tend to quilt them a tad on the denser side to try and avert the effects of gravity over prolonged periods. If an area is a bit too plain it can "puff" and then sag if it's not properly secured. Your batting choices also can alter this, but that's a whole other topic of discussion.

Otherwise, I usually know the game plan when I'm shown a quilt and told this is going to be my (insert show name here) entry this year. Now, I know there are people that just make pretty things and enter them into shows to share what they've done. I wish more people would have the confidence to do that. But then again, I know people that make quilts solely for the purpose of getting that ribbon! And that's fine too.

Quilts in this category usually come down to a couple important details that I try to pick up on or will end up asking before I plan the quilting. First, what is your style? Do you want a pretty quilt or do you want a show stopping - ribbon getting - prize champion quilt? Then this is the super important part - the budget. Maybe you want a super champion quilt but only have the budget for a pretty quilt. I will try to work with you (and your quilter should too) to try and get you as close to the quilt of your dreams within the budget you have.

Please don't think I'm trying to be condescending here with the budget aspect, but remember your long arm quilters are humans and we have our physical and mental limits of what we can accomplish in a set amount of time and it needs to be compensated for. Many of the show quilts you see can take days, weeks, or months to quilt (no joke) and can come with a hefty price tag for the designs and density you desire. Quilters don't have a magic wand or a button to push to make these things happen. There's time energy and skill that has been built up over a period of time to consider.

3a. Mini Quilts
As I sit here and I'm writing this, I wanted to throw in Mini Quilts into this and they almost deserve their own category, but not quite. I myself have recently been bit by the mini quilt bug and most people tend to quilt these on their own machines. They're small and more manageable so it makes sense. I'm going to quilt mine on my domestic machine, and trust me, that NEVER happens. Quilts like this can be quilted simply with straight lines by using a walking foot, but consider asking your quilter to tackle it if you want that  show quality quilting but don't think you want to try it for yourself.

Honestly, I LOVE quilting smaller quilts like this. Now with that said, most quilters do have a minimum charge for quilting, but if your quilt is small and you want super awesome quilting, they typically fall in line with one another. Ask your quilter first and don't assume though. My personal minimum is $50 (there is time and energy put into loading and unloading even the smallest quilt as well as thread changes and other factors to consider, so don't think minimums are just being greedy) Sometimes small quilts can take longer to load and unload than to quilt them!

Anywho, back to the topic - I know there are times where all I have in my que for quilting are large and custom quilts and I would love to get a small project to break up the cycle. Even if I spend the same energy custom quilting a mini as I do a large quilt, it's the fact of the sense of accomplishment that I'm looking for. After spending a week working on the same quilt, it's so energizing to load a quilt and finish it in the same day. It's really the little things :)

Don't always assume that a long arm quilter either wouldn't or doesn't want to quilt your mini. If you can both be on the same page for the minimum charge (or whatever the price may work out to, ask for a quote first) send it over!

Well, that does it. That's my philosophy on quilt categories. Do you agree or disagree? Do you have a detail you think I'm missing or would like to elaborate on? Continue the conversation by leaving a comment below!

I'm planning on quilting my little heart out this weekend and hopefully you can do the same! Have a great one!

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate the thought, time and effort you put into classifying the different quilts! Well done!! I have only had 2 E2E customer quilts in the past few years - I rarely get those, I get the heirloom/super custom quilting...but they want to pay E2E prices, of course!! I have learned to ask what my customers' budget is for every quilt, and do the maximum amount of quilting that I can for that price. I do get tired of earning $2.00 per hour...but I love getting to quilt! I'm going to bookmark this post and refer back to it often!!


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