Longarmer Spotlight: Jane Davidson

Today’s long arming quilter is Jane Davidson of Quilt Jane. Besides being a long armer in Australia, Jane also owns an online quilt shop, which, besides selling great fabrics, also has some acrylic English Paper piecing templates; I own some of them, and they are amazing!

Me: How were you introduced to long arm quilting? How long have you been doing it for?

Jane: I was inspired by all the fabulous long arm quilters around the world. I would see their beautiful work and wish that I could apply that to my own quilts. I am just a novice. I have only been using a LA for 18 months. I had a mid arm previously and wanted to expand and complement my business with quilting services.

Me: What type of machine do you use, and what are some of the features on it that are your favorite?

Jane: I have an Innova 26” with Stitch regulator and computer for digital designs. The Innova is a fantastic machine that is light to use and very simple in design so it is easy to maintain. The stitch regulator is excellent and helps me keep the perfect stitch, while the digital quilting lets me quilt very complex designs. I like doing both freehand and digital work and sometimes combining both.

Me: When you receive a quilt to be long armed, what is your process usually like?

Jane: Quilting is the last layer of the quilt where you can make it all come together in pattern and thread.  I think it is important to ask the client what they love or what the person they are making it for their likes/dislikes. I measure the quilt and backing in a few places while the customer is present and look for any inconsistencies or problems with the quilts. I show them a variety of threads and discuss pattern themes. They usually leave it up to me. I document our discussion and hand them a quote and date of completion. I send them photos as the quilt progresses.

Me: What is your favorite type of quilt to work on? Do you like designs with a lot of negative space? Modern quilts?
Jane: I don’t really have a favourite quilt layout to work on. The negative space in a modern/contemporary quilt is fun because it gives you room to create patterns and make them a feature of the quilt. Sometimes a simple all over design is exactly what the quilt requires and complements the quilt top.

Me: Do you have a certain quilted design that is your favorite?

Jane: I am in love with the geometric designs such as swirls, concentric circles, squares, rectangles, triangles : pebbles; daisies. I also favour the ‘doodle’ designs and flamboyant paisley designs.

Me: Does thread color play a significant role in your quilting?
Jane: I rarely use a thread that matches the fabric in the quilt. Using 60,50, 30, 12 and 40 wt threads in a subtle contrast colour or thread that is a few shades lighter or darker, brings out the design without overwhelming in the quilt. I always match my bobbin and top thread. 


Me: What type of thread and batting are your favorite to work with?
Jane: My favourite threads are Aurifil, Superior and the occasional Rasant threads. Aurifil 50wt just glides through my machine. The Superior polyesters have a beautiful sheen and depth of colour.

I use the Matildas Own Cotton, Wool/Poly  or bamboo batting in Australia. The Poly /Wool has a medium loft, light and very warm. Cotton is the more popular wadding in our warmer climate. 

Me: I have never had a quilt long armed. If someone is new to the process, like I am, what kinds of information would you tell them about your work, and in turn, what kinds of questions would you ask them to make sure they receive the best finished product possible?
Jane: My work is based on digital and freehand quilting designs with a difference. I like to inject a little personality into quilting design even if it is an all over design. I am happy to do whatever the customer asks. 

I know how precious your quilt is. To assist in me providing the best service, prepare your quilt. Make sure all the seams are secure, seams pressed and threads removed (don’t want dark threads showing through light fabrics) . Make sure your quilt is squared so there is no gathering in the quilt. If you are supplying the backing and batting, ensure that the backing is at least 4” wider than top all around and batting is 3”. The backing should be squared as well.

If you are supplying the backing and batting, use a good quality wadding and piece your backing well. If your quilt is mostly white use a bleached or pure white batting. I do supply batting.

Tell me which direction your quilt will hang or sit on the bed and what it will be used for.

Have an idea of thread colour and weight and pattern that have in mind. I will usually guide you in what will work well.

Tell me when you would like to collect your quilt. Usually when you are making the quilt, you would call and book in the quilt in advance.

I find most people who have made the decision to have their quilt long armed, don’t come with a fixed price in their head. The quote is based on the work per square foot which included roll on, threads and quilting.

Me: What helpful tips can you provide for more successful machine quilting at home?

Jane: With any skill it is practice, Practice, Practice. Slow down and relax. Draw lots of doodles on paper so you can master the brain to hand connection of continuous patterns. 

Try all types of threads and weights. You can achieve some amazing results and it brings so much more depth to your quilting pattern. Remember to use the correct needle size for the thread and adjust your tension accordingly. Keep a notebook with your thread weights and tensions.

Don’t be afraid to mark your quilt top with an erasable pen.  Having guides takes the guess work out of the pattern.

Be comfortable in your quilting space. Have enough space to support the quilt while you move it under the machine throat. Use gloves to grip the fabric. The difference between the home machine and longarm is that on the home machine you are moving the fabric under the static machine head while on the longarm the machine head moves over the fabric.

Keep your machine clean and well maintained.

Me: When you have time to sew for yourself, what kinds of projects do you like to work on? What is your favorite sewing project that you have made.
Jane: The rare moments when I can do my own work, I love to make quilts and cushions. I love to design my own blocks and patterns and try new techniques. I enjoy everything I make it is so difficult to choose. Probably the favourite quilt this year have been the Mega Swoon.

Thank you so much Jane!!!

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