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,