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How To Recognize Custom Quilts

By Rhea Solomon

When looking for custom quilts to purchase you will find that dollar for dollar they signify one of the most substantial art purchase in your life. They can be used as wall hangings or the bed covers that tie your entire room together. The cost constitutes a real bargain for the consumer considering that the average hand quilter makes only about two dollars an hour for their labor.

Quilting dates back at least two centuries and involves using a pattern of running stitches to anchor soft filler between two pieces of fabric. The patterns of the stitches work to create a subtle textured design on the fabric surface. The pattern of stitches serves as the only design on the back of a quality product. The top layer of fabric is generally a patchwork that takes the form of a design that is seen in stitches on the back. The real challenge is in the melding of patchwork with the pattern of the stitches.

Quilted spreads take on a variety of definitions dependent upon who you are talking to. Some people consider a custom quilt any one that is built in the traditional block pattern and uses dark colors such as red, blue or green on the color wheel. Others include the lighter colors traditionally used for a summer quilt using a white back ground and solid colors from red to green.

Yet another definition is that they are made in the manner of old order Amish ladies. These contain blocks of solid or printed fabrics and traditional block patterns as well as non-traditional patterns. A little broader version would include quilts made by Mennonite ladies. Although most products sold by Amish ladies would not be appropriate for their own homes.

The term handmade means one of a kind. Some quilters will make the same quilt two or three times using the same fabrics. Although not mass produced these are not one of a kind items.

Manufactured products often have designs printed on the front or back of them. They offer no blocking or patchwork designs. This happens when the demand for quality quilts exceeds the abilities of the quilters to produce enough products to meet the demand. Another factor is that most people do not know what to look for in a custom product and will accept them as authentic.

Looking at the back of the quilt is the best way to gauge it's authenticity. Stitches should be uniform and the stitch count should be no less than seven to the inch. There should be no areas without stitching larger than a fist. On the front, patchwork pieces should match within less than a eighth of an inch. To keep the filler from slipping there needs to be at least one hundred twenty stitches per square foot of fabric.

Purchasing custom quilts is a big decision. Once you have selected the colors and pattern you desire it can take up to two years for the finished product to be completed and delivered to you. Most will take about one year to create. The end result can be the center of your decorating scheme if you plan well.

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