Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Learning to use the Long Arm Machine

This weekend I finally got to take the long arm machine quilting class I signed up for last month!  It was a lot of information crammed into a short amount of time, but it was really fun to see how the machine works and to play around with a few of the techniques like free motion quilting and using template designs.  The best part was that taking the class made me eligible to actually use the machine on my own quilts!

My sister's Modern Sampler quilt was of course the one that got this whole thing started, so that was the first one I did.  I'm going to be a total tease today though and say, "Sorry, no pictures of that one just yet."  Since it's a gift, I want her to see it before I show it off.  It took me about three hours to load the machine and do the quilting, but part of the problem was that I picked a faulty spool of thread that kept breaking and added a good 45 minutes to my quilting time.  It was pretty frustrating, but I became really familiar with the machine thanks to that!

The second quilt I did was the New Wave Quilt.  This is a little less of a teaser, but it's also the last you'll see of the quilt until the end of the year.  It's going to be a gift too! This one was much quicker. It's about the same size but only took an hour and fifteen minutes to load and quilt.  That's partly because I knew what I was doing with the loading and partly because my thread only broke once.

{Oh and just to brag on my hubby for a minute...I told him I would only be gone three hours when I left.  I called him three hours later to say I was "nearly" finished with the first quilt and asked if he would watch Della so I could go ahead and do the second.  Of course he said Yes and ended up letting me have a whopping 6 hours of alone time...something which is nearly unheard of (not because our hubby's aren't capable or willing to watch the kids; it's just not easy to get that much time worked out at once!)  It.was.amazing.}

I went in with really specific ideas of how I wanted to quilt each of these and came out with something completely different for each one!  The machine has a way of affecting you in a mind-controlling sort of way! I think part of that is it's just so totally different than quilting on a sewing machine.  On the sewing machine you're so confined with the space that it's hard to get really fluid motions.  Straight lines, squares, grids, etc. make a lot of sense.  With the long arm you almost need to be using fluid motions so it's really ideal for free motion quilting. 

I am going back next weekend to quilt our Kitchen Windows quilt, and once I get that all finished and bound, I'll give you some full shots instead of all these teasers. 



  1. I love hearing about other people's long arm experiences! My LQS rents theirs at $15/hr, so I've been hesitant to learn, as I had also heard loading can take 1 hour all by itself.
    I'd love to hear more about the intro class you took for it!

  2. Wow, that sounds amazing...lucky you!!

  3. Looks great! I'm really happy for you. ;)

  4. I just spent the day on my LQS long-arm machine. I took earlier this month so that I could learn how to use it. I too had similar problems with my first quilt. It took four hours and I am exhausted, but the quilt looks lovely. Glad you had fun. I hope the next time I get time/extra money to go long arm again, it takes much less time like your second one did :)


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