The Free Motion Quilting Project: Who's Quilt Is It Anyway?

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Who's Quilt Is It Anyway?

I've heated things up this week with a new Great Quilting Debate about quilt ownership. If you hire a service like longarm quilting, having binding attached, or even piecing, is that still just YOUR quilt?

Click Here to check out the podcast episode.

I had a lot of fun with this one and found the more I thought through each angle, the more interesting it became. There are so many different sides to it:

 - If I pay for the service, doesn't that take care of it? 

- If I don't end up liking the person that did it, do I really HAVE to give her credit?

- If I provide the design, doesn't that make it mine?

It's been really interesting to read the comments as they've rolled in on Facebook and YouTube. Make sure to listen to the podcast all the way through because I dig into the possible comparisons - I pay a guy to mow my lawn. Do I have to credit Rodney every time someone compliments me on it?

But ultimately my point is a quilt is unique because without the quilting, it's not actually a quilt. In order to enter a show, a quilt must be 3 layers with stitching running through all three layers.

Without quilting, your quilt is not complete.

When you hire someone to quilt it for you, it is fundamentally different from having your car or shoes fixed or your lawn mowed. You are paying for it to be finished not just fixed and without the quilting, it is not complete.

I have the feeling that a lot of quilters are taking credit for the quilting on their quilts as if it's happening by magic. Poof! It's quilted!

I'm sorry to break it to you, that is not how it works!

If you have your quilt quilted for you, it's no longer just yours. It's a collaboration. It is a combination of your work and the longarmers work. If you have a quilt bound it's the same.

I have most of my quilts pieced by Dad. This is a collaboration between the two of us and if I showed the quilt, I would absolutely credit him as the piecer.

Does this bug you? It's very clearly getting under a lot of quilter's skin and this surprises me. When you quilt by check, you are giving up a piece of the puzzle. You are also giving up sole credit for that quilt.

But there is a solution. It's not as easy and it will take time to get the hang of it:

Quilt your quilts yourself. 

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. I so agree with you. Sewing a quilt top is wonderful, and requires skill and time. You are correct, if we get someone else to quilt our quilt, then that person should be credited regardless of whether they were paid. Not that it is wrong to get that done, but as you said we should give proper credit. Another thing, and I know that you did not say this but just saying to those who do, that makes someone a stitcher (the word "sewer" is a noun, a septic tank, by the way). A person who sews is a "stitcher", lol. You are correct, a stitcher and a quilter are two different elements/people. There is nothing like the sense of accomplishment of quilting and binding your own quilt.

  2. Add to it the customer who comes in to her long armer with a beautiful quilt top, and says, "I have no idea about the quilting. Do whatever you think." So not only is the physical quilting adding by another, but also another portion of the overall design. Custom quilting adds a whole different dimension than a pantograph or all over stipple some people might consider. The quilting can take a so-so quilt to stunning! So thinking aloud, if the quilter credits the quilt pattern with the designer's name, shouldn't the quilting AND quilting design be credited? Just throwing more into the discussion to think about here.

  3. Well, you've got it right. I just entered a quilt into a fair competition and when the quilt is not completed by the same person, it is considered a 2-person entry - or a collaboration as you note.

  4. This is such an interesting topic- I just saw a quilting friend on Facebook lamenting the lack of acknowledgement for her longarm skills that helped earn a quilt an award. AND, I just read Patchwork Souvenirs about the 1930s Sears quilt contest for the World's Fair. Same issue- many of the winners farmed out various parts of the process to women who were trying to earn money for their families in hard times with their fine needlework. The one who entered the quilt got all the acclaim which caused a bit of a scandal at the time. So it's not a new problem. Will share your podcast with her in case she is not familiar with it yet.

  5. I agree with you 100%... if you work with (paid or unpaid) with anyone else they deserve some of the credit.

  6. The quilt definitely has 2 owners. I have decided most of the time, to quilt it myself- very simply, but it is finished. Having someone else quilt it will be for a special occasion.


Help us create more quilting tutorials! Check out our quilt shop at