Saturday, May 14, 2016

My Foray Into Long Arm Quilting

So you probably guessed by the title what I was doing yesterday!

I was taking a class on a long arm quilting machine.  Here she is!  I should have written down the model number, but it is a machine by Handi Quilter.   I took this class at the Blue Bird Quilt Studio in Nampa, Idaho.
That thing is huge!   I have now quilted once on my own machine and once on a long arm and at this point, I have to say I prefer my own little Bernina.  I felt so much more in control.  Yes, I know it probably is a lot easier to quilt a large quilt on the long arm, but it just wasn't as natural to steer.  Now I understand why they say "practice, practice, practice!"  I don't know how much time and energy I want to put into this just yet.  It costs $20 per hour to rent the machine and of course, much of that time would be spent pinning your quilt and backing to the rollers.

I had to share practice time with one other lady so didn't get to do a ton of practicing and my first attempt at this is just too sloppy for words!  Then I learned what a pantograph was.  I had no idea what that was!  Most of you experienced quilters already know but I will explain for my friends and family who probably don't know either.  This machine has a laser light that you point at a continuous line pattern that lays down on the table behind the quilt and wherever you move the laser light following the line pattern is also the same line the machine quilts for you,  That's a rough explanation.  It's much easier to follow an already created pattern than to have to think about what you're going to quilt.  (especially for beginners)  Here is what I did using a pantograph and even with the line to follow, I was very jerky.  Not yet smooth.  

Now I understand why they say it takes a lot of practice!  People who are already good at it just make it look so easy, don't they? 

I would love to hear from you long arm quilters about how long it took you to get comfortable quilting on a long arm.   Did you just jump right in or did you start out free motion quilting first? And which do you prefer?  I hope you'll share your experiences with me in the comments!

Eager to learn,



Amanda said...

What a wonderfully lovely journey you will have learning to longarm!

Heide said...

I too took a long are class, not 100% in love with it or my outcome I know it is about practice, practice, practice. I did try a different LA machine at a quilt show and it was so different, I little tighter, and not as sensitive to my movements as the one at the quilt shop. I felt like I had more control and it had a larger, quilting area. So I encourage you if you go to a quilt show and see a long arm on display ask to give it a try.

Paige said...

I have done computerized quilting on fellow guild member's APQS Millennium (with her holding my hand all the way) so I do not have much experience with freehand other than trying out a machine at a show. I have MUCH more control on my domestic Bernina! It's great you are exploring all the quilting possibilities.

Kate @ Smiles From Kate said...

It's something I have never tried Janice. To have one I would need a big room just for that purpose, and realistically I can't see myself having a house big enough. Besides, I would need to make a lot of quilts to justify the cost. My plan is to improve my quilting so I can make a good job on quilts up to twin size, and send the odd large quilt to a longarmer. Now I just need to improve my quilting.

Gayle said...

I've done a lot of quilting on my domestic machine but used a friend's longarm once to quilt a grandson's quilt - it was a lot of fun but I don't have room for such a beast in my house! LOL

Jen said...

I have been thinking about taking a long-arm class. I have done all of my quilting on my home machine (even the big ones).
I tested one at a recent quilt show and I know exactly what you mean when you say it is easier to follow something. I panicked when I didn't know what to do next and my test was embarrassing. :)

Cut&Alter said...

I got this exact model last year as an ex-demo from the UK distributor and I LOVE it! It's funny reading about your experience because mine was soo different. I tried it for the first time at a Show and just 'got it' - it seemed a quick learning curve for some simple designs but harder and longer for others. I still have not attempted a pantograph but that's my challenge to myself in June!