25.2A SQ Ep 042 – The Long Arm Experience Blog Post Part 1April 29, 2012
*editors note* due to the high number of pictures for this episode, I’m going to break down the blog posts relating to the episode into two posts.
To find Part 2 of my renting a long arm episode go here. Part 2 directly relates my personal experience with my own personal quilt. The post below is more about the class and certification stuff you will find when you rent and to give you a guide through the experience.
*end of note*
Have you ever wanted anyone to talk you through a long arm renting experience from beginning of the class to the end?
Do you want to know what types of things to expect when renting a long arm, how to work the long arm anyway?
Particularly how to load a backing and quilt top and batting in a “half float” method of loading?
The episode I go into details about the things I learned in class, and if you scroll down, you should be able to find my pictures I took during the long arm certification class at Quilted Memories in Overland Park, KS.
The shop carries batting, sells Nolting long arm machines, and provides time renting the long arm provided you took the class.
The podcast and pictures are not meant to represent everyone’s long arm experience and are not meant to ‘side step’ any certification class by any means, but are to provide you with a very good idea of what to expect when renting, the steps involved with loading a quilt (there are many), and I think I even threw in some tips the owner provided us with for starting out (the ones I remembered or wrote down).
First in the podcast though, I talk about quilting and socialization and how I meat Jackie from Sew Excited Quilts.
I sure would have loved to have gotten to spend even more time with her! She mentioned to me how interesting it is that ‘all these introverts’ are getting together and publicly putting themselves out there on twitter and podcasts.
So the class:
First the overview of the quilting frame, parts and quilt loaded
This is the turbo bobbin winder to make tight bobbins (easier for long arm quilting).
Before loading, the back and top have to be pinned to the zippers. The quilt should be squared before pinning. Fold the quilt in the center, mark with a pin, and then line up the center of the quilt with the center of the zippers. If you have your own zippers, mark your own center for the future.
And the machine has to be threaded. There is some tension disks that should not be missed, but for Noltings, the one bar that has the most impact on machine tension is the silly bar that goes downwards on the bottom of the machine. Also no automatic needle threaders here.
The display on the front (and back) of the machine shows on, stitch regulation, the “on mode” (didn’t catch the name), the needle down feature, and turning the laser on and off.
Speaking of the buttons you press, here they are on the front side of the machine (close to the needle). Both the front and the back buttons put the red button on the left. as you’re facing the machine. Red means single stitch and black means ‘turn it on or turn on stitch regulation).
Stitch regulation won’t start sewing until the machine moves. Then the faster the machine is moved (by you) the faster the machine stitches – matching your speed!
When you want to stitch vertically or horizontally you can ‘channel lock’ the machine so it only moves one direction at a time.
You have three sets of zippers, two for the back and then you roll the back onto the bottom front bar (1st picture), then you zip and roll the top to the top bar (belly bar). Then you place the batting in the middle (loose, but droopy).
Then you baste the batting to the back (using channel lock). And then you baste the top to the back and along the sides.
Once all the basting is completed, you take the clamps from the side of the long arm and clamp it to the backing fabric only. The white section is all a velcro so that you can adjust this correctly. This should be tight but not stretching out of shape.
Then you can set up the pantograph on the back of the quilt. You can move the frame around and set up sticky notes to help you figure out where to start and where to stop quilting.
A view of the laser set up next to the thread spool.
And here’s a fuzzy picture of the laser engaged.
Once one pass through of the panto, you need to find your starting point on the pantograph again, move the machine down to the end again, and secure the threads, locking them in place.
Then you have to move the laser again back to the same point over the pantograph. For some reason this is hard to wrap my head around just a little bit still. Probably because the laser wouldn’t behave all that well. Next time I’ll put the spool on the other side away from the laser and that may help a bit.
As far as what we did in the class itself
Lyn was helpful in letting us see the batting choices with sample Hobbs battings. We felt the bobbin, and several different weights of thread during the class. We discussed tension issues and how much threading the machine matters to help the tension in the machine.
Thread recommendation to start if you want to quilt a lot of different quilts with minimal thread purchase (at first) 1) off white, 2) grey 3) dusty rose
We took the zippers and pinned them to the ‘beautiful nine patch that a customer did’ (ie the whole cloth muslin that was squared up prior to coming to class).
To square it up, she said to fold it lengthwise, then keep folding it carefully with one edge always to the outside to get it on your cutting mat, then use the rotary cutter. Then unfold it, refold it shortwise (the other way) and then keep folding it until the uncut edge can fit on the cutting mat, and keeping everything square with the previously cut edge, rotary cutter the new edge.
The zippers were marked in the center and the squared up quilt top was marked in the center and we pinned from the center outwards.
We wound a bobbin with the turbo bobbin winder.
We each threaded the machine, even though she encourages us to leave an end for the next person to tie up to (similar for leaving thread in sergers).
We helped zip up the quilt back to the leaders on the machine. We each rolled up sections of the back and pushed out from the center, smoothing the quilt to each edge so that it was square on the machine.
We zipped up and rolled up the top in the same way as the back. Lyn inserted the batting up next to the backing.
We each helped baste the batting to the backing using the horizontal channel lock (moves sideways only).
We pinned the top to the batting and backing.
We freehand basted the top horizontally (no channel lock) and Lyn said that to help get waves out sometimes she zig zags when she bastes the top to help get the fullness in, zigging up and down, while the direction we basted was still to the right.
We basted the sides down over the section we could see unrolled.
We put the clamps on the quilt backing on both sides.
We put the ratchet down and belly bar moved to be in line with the bottom bar.
We repositioned the laser on the panto, marked the beginning and end of the quilt with sticky notes.
Each of us got a turn at moving the quilt with the pantograph, quilting on the back side. We would stop and see how we were doing on each section. We rotated a few times for this part.
We discussed how to move to the next pantograph, but did not get to practice it due to time (we were late getting started).
Then we went to the front of the machine, and our group was having issues remembering the sequence we used for starting and stopping the stitching, so we each practiced four times (using two long arm machines) pulling up the bobbin thread, then locking the stitches, then moving an inch or so, then locking the stitches and then pulling up the bobbin and cutting off at the end.
While we were practicing this, she was drawing on the other side of the ‘quilt’ with frixion marker (not pen, but same difference) some ‘free hand designs to try.
One was an ‘l’s and e’s’ design a cursive l followed by a cursive e, then repeated.
The next design was a circle looping clockwise next to a circle looping counter clockwise.
I think the last design was ocean waves.
(And I wish I had gotten a picture at this point – but no)
We had discussed but did not get a chance to practice moving the quilt on the bar to reposition it. But by this time, I wasn’t taking it in. The ratchet system still seemed unfamiliar to me, and part of it may have been the late start and the fact that the family of one of the ladies was there to pick her up during the last 20 minutes or so we were out on the floor. And the rest of it may have been it was near the end of my normal day and I typically stop paying as much attention the later it gets, and the fact that there was so much to think about during the class too.
So this was the one area that I wish I had gotten to practice myself, the moving of the quilt after a section is quilted, and how to handle and practice moving the pantograph to the next section of the quilt.
Otherwise this class prepared me for actually renting the long arm. I bought my zippers and two generic threads – off white and black (for me this seemed more useful than grey) and signed up for 4 days after the class (which I changed to 6 days).
This is all the pictures taken from the long arm class itself, to see what I did on my own quilt during the first rental time, go to part 2 of this post.