Saturday, January 5, 2019

A day in the Life of a Longarm Quilter

OK, so this was day 2 of stitch in the ditch. Day 1 was totally unsuccessful and nothing was accomplished. I had thread breaks, skipped stitches and nothing but frustration.
Well, I spent 36 hours reading, studying, dreaming and problem solving with my brain and a few hundred longarm quilters. I figured there were several problems.

First: This is not the way that I loaded the top. I had originally loaded it where it rolled on the inside bar. That caused tension when I moved Penelope. The quilt rolled too 'fat' and caused some drag. So, when I started this morning I unzipped it and rolled it on the outside roller. That really helped alot.

Second: I really loosened the quilt sandwich. Not so sure it was to tight, but, that couldn't hurt.
Third: I cranked the tension back down on the primary tension disks. Then I really loosened the tension at the intermediate tensioner.
Started stitching and would you believe.................It's perfect........well, almost. I am still seeing some of the dark gray bobbin thread pull close to the top of the quilt, but, not so much that I'm concerned.
Long story short...........I quilted for over 6 hours with 1.............I repeat ....1 thread break. And, I went back to using Superior Monopoly on top.............It has been a glorious day!! PLUS the sun was shining outside!!!
I did not get to the half way point, but, things are moving faster, so hopefully tomorrow I can finish this part.
That's it for tonight...........I'm off to try out my new Air Fryer. We'll see how that goes. Now that things are moving along, I know I'll sleep better. So, until tomorrow!!!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Story of a High Custom Quilt and the Life of a Longarm Quilter

It is January 2, 2019 and I have finally loaded this quilt on my frame. I am starting the quilt with it on Penelope Statler. I have had this top for over a month, but the client knew that I would not  be in a position to start work on it until now. I have also just received the digital designs for this quilt. Most of what I will be using is from Laurie Thomas of It's a Quilt Thing. I will use a few others from other designers and let you know what they are and I will also be doing some freehand work on the quilt.

The first decision that I needed to make was whether or not to add additional batting. My client wants Dream wool and that is a really good choice. However, I feel as though this quilt needs the additional stabilizing that a thin cotton, poly or blend black batting on the back would offer. So, I have added a layer of Hobbs 80/20 next to the black batik backing.
I have those on the frame and now comes the quilt top. Perfectly pieced by a Certified Judy Niemeyer instructor. It is the new Technique of the month, Dinner Plate Dahlia and it is beautiful (even though it is done in Georgia red and black------or Carolina garnet and black). Insert evil laugh and a big tiger paw!! It is also 100% batik fabrics. Not just the top, but, the backing too.
It took 5 hours to load and baste the quilt top on and now it is time to stitch.

January 3, 2019:
Well, I have spent the entire day with this quilt. To say it has been frustrating is an understatement. Bull Bat time could not get here fast enough. I am working on the stitch in the ditch that is really necessary on these tops. I started with a medium gray bottom line bobbin on a black and gray batik backing using first Superior monopoly smoke. Well, I was having thread breaks every few inches and when it wasn't breaking I was getting skipped stitches. Talk about frustration!!! So, I unquilted what I had stitched. Next it was Dark Gray in the bobbin and Clear Superior Monopoly on top............same thing. So..........I tried YLI clear thread with the dark gray in the bobbin......same. I also stopped plotting for the Statler, dropped the belts, put on the extended throat plate and started hand guiding the change.
Finally, I decided I was exhausted from fighting with the process for the day. So I shut down and turned off the lights.
I have poured a glass of wine and I'm sitting here talking to you. I think that I have also decided to try Superior Microquilter tomorrow instead of invisible. Microquilter is 100 weight thread and should work well. Notice I said 'should'.
Once I get these 'bugs' worked out, things will begin to go smoother and faster. It is still going to be quite a journey. So, you are on board and we'll talk periodically to let you know the progress. So, what does the quilt actually look like? Well, this is a look at part of the top:
Remember, as I go forward with this, that this top is 100% square and perfectly pieced. Any problems that arise are typical of some that longarmers have, but, that are not usually known by our clients. I just thought you might be interested and it might also go well for you to understand why we charge what we do for our quilting.
Have a good evening and remember that 'Tomorrow is another day'..........

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Registration is open!!!

Registration for February Quilt Camp with One Loose Thread is officially open. You can find a form by clicking on the button at the top of this page. If you have questions, feel free to call me in the studio or email and ask.
Joyce Greer-One Loose Thread

                                                                Looking for Spring 2019
Gravatt Conference Center, Aiken, S. C. 
Thursday, February 14 – Sunday, February 17, 2019

This is a UFO event. You work on your own projects and just have a relaxing good time. Quilters of all levels from beginner to professional.
All meals are provided by the fantastic Gravatt kitchen!  No dishes to wash!!! 
Walking paths all over the camp so that you can get your daily exercise. Walk by the lake and just lose yourself in your surroundings.
Nothing is structured except meal times.
Your fee includes
Neat and clean lodging in either Cole Lodge or Our quaint cottages.
The rooms in Cole Lodge sleep 2 and have their own bathrooms.
The cottage rooms have adjoining rooms, each sleeping 2, with a shared bathroom.
All meals starting with dinner on Thursday night and ending with lunch/brunch on Sunday.
Optional: Mystery Quilt designed by our own Beth Karr (everyone will receive the clues)
A 6 foot table all to yourself as your work area
Ironing surfaces furnished by One Loose Thread
Raised cutting surfaces
Snack Area
Massage available
Lots of Laughter
Of course, a few surprises will be thrown into the mix. 
Any Questions should be directed to:
One Loose Thread Quilting, 630 Planters Drive, Columbia, S. C. 29209
Questions? Call 803-776-5801---the Studio

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Christmas Presents and Other Important 'Stuff'

This quilt is so large, that I can't get a full picture of it. However, here are a few, both before and after quilting.

 This one on the far right is a picture of the finished quilting. Now, with each quilt I learn something.

What did I learn on this quilt?
1. Never put the quilt on the frame until you have decided on at least 75% of the quilting designs that you will use...........otherwise, you spend hours, days, WEEKS trying to make those decisions.

Mary brought this quilt to me in AUGUST!!! AUGUST!!! (yes, it was this year). We decided on what we wanted to quilt in the gifts. We decided on what to use for the outside border. So, I zipped it on the frame basted the whole quilt in and just KNEW that this was going to go 'lickety split' ( that's really fast for those of you that don't speak Southern). Wellllllllll, I started with the border because I knew what we wanted in that area. I set it up and stitched the whole side border and two corners. The tension was perfect! I looked at the finished product and decided it should have been stitched 1/2" lower so that the bottom of the gifts would stitch in the ditch............out comes the seam ripper for stitch removal. I know better than to NOT listen to that little voice in my brain that tells me to stop after 6 inches of quilting.

While I am un-stitching, I can at least take some time and go ahead with the gifts. After all everything has been ditch stitched and is stable. So, I set the designs in the first two gifts and 'LET'S GO TO IT'!!' I stitched those out and wonder of wonders, turned the quilt over and I HATE the way that the tension is working on the bottom. OK, more work for the seam ripper.

By now, it must be at least October. Remember, Mary brought this to me in AUGUST!

OK, fast forward to Halloween..........the border has been un-quilted, the gifts have been un-quilted. I have all of the gifts now stitched with their special designs and now it's time for the sashings and spaces between the gifts.....but, no, the borders have not been requilted. It's time for quilt camp, so, we need to stop for that.

So, we get back to work after camp and it's time for the sashings and borders..........I decided to stitch the borders first (after all, I know what I want there). This time everything works BEAUTIFULLY!!! (I love my Statler!)

Fabulous! now I'm really on a roll. Let's get this finished before Thanksgiving. So, this is where everything stops.........again. I have no idea as to what I wanted to stitch in the sashings and around the ribbons. Thought about this for several days. Shopped all of the designers for ideas. Tried to dream about the solution.........wasn't happening. Anyhow, I finally came up with what I thought would work. Stitched it out and I was pleased, so then worked on finishing the quilt.

Well, guess what!! It's done!! Mary will soon be binding this beautiful quilt and have it on her bed for when Santa delivers his gifts.

Now, that was one thing I learned. What else might I have gleaned from this experience.

2. Thank goodness my custom clients are very patient and understand that I am not stitching anything on their quilts that doesn't 'feel' right to me. I love everyone of them.

3. My clients understand that my custom work is VERY SLOW............Thank you.

4. To that end, I will only be accepting 2 quilts a month for custom work. They could be hand guided, Statler assisted, or both, but I will only accept 2 per month. That said, my custom schedule is currently scheduled out to March of 2019. There is one quilt that is scheduled in for January 2019 that I do not currently have 'in house'. If it appears that it will not arrive, then everyone moves up in the schedule.

Custom quilting is something that I enjoy, but, it is also the most stressful, so, I am having to set some limits. I'm sure everyone can understand and we will all adjust to this new scheduling.

NOW AS FAR AS EDGE TO EDGE--------bring it on. I can usually have that back to you within 2 weeks..sometime sooner. This schedule is independent of my custom schedule, so, it moves faster.

Registration for February Quilt Camp will start the first week of December. Time to start thinking about the beginning of a new year as we finish up this one.

Now, here we are, the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Tomorrow I will load Penelope Statler and begin working on all of the edge 2 edge quilts that have been waiting for me to finish the Gifts. The weekend has been full for food, family, and football (GO TIGERRRRS). Time to settle in, decorate and enjoy the season. I have a few extra special quilts to complete before Christmas morning, but, that will happen. Life is great and I am enjoying the process. Hope you are too.


Sunday, November 11, 2018


It's Sunday morning and I returned from Quilt Camp on Friday. Everything is packed away. Now it is time to reflect on our 4 days at Gravatt Camp and Confrence Center. It is time to make some decisions on how I do things for retreats, when retreats are scheduled, and what type of retreats I am hosting. I do this at the end of every year. I sit and reflect, make lists, make decisions. I do this for my business and for my life.

One of the first things I need to do is to thank each and every 'Frayed Knot' that attended the One Loose Thread Retreats this year and every year prior for the last 10+ years. Without you this endeavor could not happen.

 I also need to say a gracious thank you to all of my longarm clients for trusting me with their 'children' and allowing me to finish them. When I look back at the quilts that I have worked on this year, your talent humbles me. You have also allowed me to work with quilts that I might love to make, but, would never take the time to do so. However, working with yours.....I can almost say that I have.

This November retreat ( as all others) was an eventful time. The 'show and tell' was amazing as usual. The wide variety of projects showed the depth of interest and experience of the quilters. The sharing of ideas and knowledge was fabulous as usual. Unfortunately, we did have an event that made all of us realize how fragile our time together is.

Sue is doing fine and is home from the hospital now. We had a visit from EMS with red lights and sirens. However, this brought to my attention a few additional emergency procedures that I need to have in place. Among our group is always at least 1 nurse and this time was not different, except we had 3. Unfortunately one was the patient, but, thank you to Wilma and Judy for your fast response to the emergency. Once a nurse............always a nurse.

I have scheduled 4 retreats for next year along with the trip to Sisters, Oregon for the quilt show. Our dates are:

                             February 14-17, 2019-----this is a UFO retreat
                             April 25-28, 2019-----this is a UFO retreat
                             July 8-16, 2019---------Trip and tour with Country Heritage to Sisters, Oregon
                             August 7-11,2019----------this is a UFO retreat
                             November 12-15, 2019-----------this is a UFO retreat

So, no classes this year, as of this writing. You never know, that may change if I get requests for some special technique, quilt, or project.

Registration for our February dates will begin right after Thanksgiving. So, if that is what you would like to be given for Christmas......tell your family to contact me or they can just give you a check for partial or full payment.

There is still some space available for the Sisters trip. All you need to do is contact Country Heritage Tours to register and you can tell them that you want to be part of the 'One Loose Thread' Group. They will reserve your space with all of us that are going.

That's it for now. I will be in the studio from now until Christmas. There are a few spaces available for Christmas quilting and I will have Penelope Statler running until December 21st. So if you have some last minute tops that you need to be done, just call and we'll see what we can work out. The edge 2 edge 'que' always runs faster than the custom que. Custom quilting is currently scheduled out to late March-early April, 2019 so if you want something special, you need to reserve time on that list. If I have the piece 'in house' I may get to it sooner.

Thanks again for all of your support of my business and for me personally.
Now, Let's go Sew!!!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

WHY DO I CARE??? This is a rant.

Soap Box Rant July 7, 2018
As I have been standing over my quilt frame today I am trying to figure out why women so undervalue their abilities. I have spent the last 4 hours dealing with poor piecing, wavy borders, selvages left in a quilt top, puckered seams and just over all frustration. I just can’t believe that a professional longarm quilter would work with all of this for less than ½ of minimum wage. With everything that I have had to deal with on this top my hourly wage will be approximately $17.00 per hour. This comes to $105.00 for the quilting. Whereas if another longarmer was to do the same piece that I have done, her hourly wage would be approximately $8.50 per hour.  That would be $50.00 for the quilting. Why would someone do that? This person is supposed to be a professional. She has invested in her machine, threads, designs……….yes she has computer assist. I just don’t get it.  Does she so devalue her ability that she feels so inferior that she should charge so much less than the local going rate? And is doing so, devalues my work, knowledge, and experience. Someone please explain this to me and tell me, WHY DO I CARE?
I will say at this time that this ‘other longarmer’ is not in my area. For that reason, she really has not impacted my business, but, she will impact the businesses of other longarmers in her area. So, will she have these prices for a year to get quilters to bring her their tops for quilting and then try to raise her prices? Will she burn out on quilting because she has taken on so much business. Once she tries to raise her prices what will happen then. Who knows. Quilters do shop for quilting just like they do for fabric.  What might she do/ feel, when another longarmer comes along and starts working on tops and cuts her prices even lower than the first one.  WHY DO I CARE?
I know this all sounds like sour grapes. It may be, but, I’m just trying to understand the business of longarm quilting. I have been in this business for less than 10 years. However, I already know the costs both financial, physical, and mental. It’s not all chocolate and good wine, let me tell you that. Every time I put needle to fabric it’s someone else’s fabric that they have put money, blood, sweat and tears into and now it’s my responsibility to bring it all to life. I suppose that I really am taking all this stuff too seriously. Maybe I should just throw the top on the frame, line up the e2e, push the button and walk away. Then whatever happens, happens………… I’m not made that way. I treat each top as though it is mine and I am going to send it to a judged quilt show. Yep, maybe to seriously. WHY DO I CARE?
I care because I want my new profession (I am a retired Dental Hygienist) to be taken seriously as a technical art form. This profession takes time, money, practice, continuing education, upgrading equipment, another stash of threads, batting, so much more than most people realize. Then if you do this as a LEGAL business, you have taxes, insurance, bookkeeping, more paperwork than you can believe, rent, electricity, heating and air…. Never mind that you might be in your private still have these expenses. So, WHY DO I CARE?
I care because I love my new profession. I love the people, the art form, the fact that I am pushed to my creative limit every day. I love it when one of my clients cries tears of joy when she sees her finished quilt. If she wins a ribbon in a show I am just as proud of her as though I had won it myself. I love the fact that I can contribute to various charities by working on some of their quilt tops. I love it when I deliver that very first quilt back to that beginning quilter and seeing the look on her face when she actually ‘sees’ her quilt. Let’s not forget that I love being in a position to take some great people on quilt retreats where we all enjoy this wonderful artform.
I ‘think’ this completes this rant. I have said all of this before. The members of the South Carolina Longarm Group have heard me say all of this out loud and with extreme emotion. I really should just let it lie, but, I find that very difficult to do.

Thanks for your time,
Joyce Greer-One Loose Thread Quilting, LLC

Friday, July 6, 2018


I was looking through and found these pictures from 2012. Some of them I remember, some and don't. I hope you enjoy looking at them.