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25.2B SQ Ep 042 – The Long Arm Experience Blog Post Part 2

April 29, 2012

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*editors note* Due to the high number of pictures in this blog post, this is PART 2 of a two part blog post about renting a long arm machine.  Both parts relate back to the same episode of the podcast.

You can find Part 1 of this blog post about renting a long arm here. That post shows the parts of a long arm machine and how to set up a practice quilt that I took in the long arm certification class. The part below is my direct experience with the long arm I had for my own quilt.

This post is not intended to be a sidestep from you completing your own long arm certification class, but is supposed to help you understand what all you’ll have to do and learn once you get there, and potentially get a leg-up on your experience.

*end of note*

The Rental Time

I was lucky enough to be able to rent time on the long arm at Quilted Memories in Overland Park.  They charge you for the class and then you pay to rent. You bring your own quilt, batting (or buy it there), backing (or buy it there, but quilt and backing should both be squared up first), thread cone, I got Superior threads’ Omni brand from suggestion in class. You also bring your own designs (pantograph OR marked quilt or stencil or freehand it)

You bring scissors, and pins and a pin cushion, just in case you make a mistake with how you pin or forget to pin.

You can wind your bobbins during the time you’re renting or buy prewound bobbins. For this machine, you use their bobbins, but if you take any you can purchase each bobbin for a dollar. At the end of my session I ended up buying three bobbins from them after winding it up. I suggest for the sake of time (learn from my mistake) that you go prewound or get there early to wind bobbins. If you’re densely quilting then even for a small quilt (lap sized), you’ll go through 4-5 bobbins.

So my first quilt, the one that I knew I was going to make “all these mistakes on” was one from all of you! Well one from my partners from the first swap bot swap we did back in December of 2010.

The strip twist quilt.

Remember this?

Well the backing wasn’t made, and by suggestion I used 1/2 inch seams and pressed to the middle. If I wanted to, I could have also used a slight zig zag stitch in making the backing. I STRESSED about completing this in time for the quick turn around needed to take my class.

But after pushing back the time two days, I did finish this and square it up and put the zippers on before my class.

I put the zippers on the longest two sides of the backing fabric, putting the words to the left.

But somehow before class, I had the top put on wrong because I was confusing top bottom front back around.

While I didn’t get every step on my camera, this is after I have rolled up the bottom and the top and put the batting in place.

Here’s actually one of the first pictures of me putting the quilt on the machine. I pinned the top down to the batting so I could baste it. Aside from the crazy pins and pinning the zippers wrong, long arm loading, while slightly long sure BEATS pin basting a quilt. Smoothing also to be found

And so when I got the quilt basted down, it’s so pretty on the machine (took quite a long time to get to this point due to unfamiliararity)! I couldn’t remember at what point I needed to put the clamps on, it’s done after the whole thing is basted down.

I also needed reminding about how tight this quilt needed to be in terms of the tension (I had it a little bit loose). She commented that when the machine is under the quilt, it should ‘show up’ underneath it a little bit, which you can see faintly below.

So I chose to do one of the three pantographs that I had purchased for myself.  This one is called Chantilly lace I believe.

I just set up the pantograph right over top of the shop’s meander one. Three loops up, curve, then three loops down. Easy enough.

So I started stitching.

I started pretty close to the edge of the quilt because this quilt has no borders, which I suppose is almost a mistake in that some of the points will be taken up by the binding after the quilting.

Two rows in and I was mesmerized!

The only really big problem was when my bobbin thread ran out faster than I was expecting. Tension before the bobbin and then right at the bobbin change there was tightness.

I should have ripped it out under the machine or something, I think I got the bobbin stuck and then wasn’t comfortable with pulling it up. if I do rip, it will only be this very very small section. The rest of the tension looks good. See the backing on the red below.

I was told by the owner that she thought I did a wonderful job. She was impressed at the speed I went during the stitching and didn’t hear the motor rev up too fast at any one time to try to catch up to me. This is about 8 stitches per inch.

About up with my 2 hour slot, I asked to pay for another hour of time and was granted it.  I completely underestimated the number of bobbins to wind and mid way through what I stitched had to wind some and then at the very end decided to wind two more for next time.

I did not complete this quilt. it’s about a yard and a half long by a yard wide, and I’ve made it two thirds of the way at this time. If I was using the generic meandering pantograph that we used in class, I would have been done by the time I left.

Analysis

I suppose part of my ‘slowness’ is in the fact that I was trying to remember all the details myself before asking for help on things.  This meant several times looking and staring at the machine, trying to visualize how it was during the class itself.

I know now that I can get the zippers done correctly for next time because I have a much better visual picture in my mind of how they’re pinned on. We discussed it and practiced it in the class itself, but I did not visualize the direction of the zippers at the time of the class which is why it was forgotton.

I also spent time taking lovely pictures for all of you! I was trying to be aware that my rental time was precious and costing me $, but after finding myself a true blogger, I really couldn’t go without documenting the process.

Next time, I’ll probably get pictures of the ratchet system although that’s less of an issue for me to remember (the one part of the class I completely blanked out on for certain) now that I’ve had to do it once. And maybe because I failed to take pictures and notes about that part of the process. Both times.

So my “lack of progress” is from

  • remembering first (trying to think it through)
  • lack of familiarity (a little scared I’d hurt the machine)
  • zipper being backwards
  • stopping to take pictures
  • getting the bobbin caught and not fixing it right
  • stopping to wind bobbins (actually twice – so wind enough before starting)
  • trying to ‘slow and steady’ while quilting
  • completely blanking out on how to move the quilt once the flat section is quilting
  • I’m a slow quilter anyway – rushes just make me panic

I agree that this is a large investment. I invested $ in the class itself, two large cones of thread, three pantographs (2 more for the future), three bobbins, the rental zippers, and probably more. I invested time in learning it, time in trying it out, and time in figuring it out.

But in the end I learned a new skill, which is invaluable to me! I love learning skills and how quilting teaches all of us something new ALL THE TIME!

So even though I am slow, and I did not finish, I know this:

  • I now know a new skill
  • I have pride in completing a quilt itself from start to stop without wrestling too much under a tiny machine
  • I have three new quilting designs I could even use on my domestic machine that I could scale down if I desired
  • If I didn’t enjoy the process (I did – greatly) I could always use the thread elsewhere and would have thread for like ever for other projects
  • I learned that I get grouchy when I don’t give myself enough time to adequately complete a deadline for making the bottom, quilting has to be much less deadline oriented!
  • I was slightly sore but mainly in my feet, and mainly because I was on them for 8+ hours prior to my class
  • I didn’t have to baste the quilt
  • I didn’t have to mark the quilt
  • The time loading was high the first time, but will be less the 2nd time
  • I love the quilting on this, how it looks, usually great tension, and I only have a one inch area to be concerned with the back
  • It was a LOT of fun!

In case you missed it, the first part of this post where I took the long arm class is found here.

10 comments

  1. The quilting looks great!!! I love the panto design. I have often wondered about renting long arm space and this was so informative. Thanks for documenting your process for us.


  2. Wow! Great photos and step-by-step information. I haven’t listened to podcast yet, but will today. Thanks for sharing your time and effort with us. Diane


  3. Darla… What a wonderful informative podcast… only got to listen to the first half and am learning a lot. Just getting up the courage to try is great…. I have been looking for a place to rent a long arm I think I will look harder. I can hardly wait to try this out.

    Nonnie

    .


  4. I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but your blog posts are very informative! Your quilting is fantastic!


  5. Read both posts. I feel like I should give you a gold star! Wow! Thanks so much for this great info. Can’t wait to listen to the podcast on this.


  6. Darla, you are welcome to use my HQ16 anytime you want. It does more sitting that stitching. Just give me a call. Reeze


  7. I loved this episode. But I am a longarmer so what would you expect? 1. Do you think after an entire quilt you could do Chantilly Lace from the front of the machine? 2. Do you get to have a new needle when you start? I do that for very customer. Batiks usually need a different size needle that other quilting cottons.
    Victoria – PeaceBrook Quilting Podcast


  8. Hey Darla, I have spent the past couple of weeks listening to your entire library of podcasts. I listen while commuting and wishing I was quilting and I listen while running with my Puggle named Coco. It’s been the best couple of weeks I’ve spent in a long time.

    The thing I most love about your approach is the permission you give to us listeners do stuff of one’s own creation and design. While I think BOM and patterns are cute, beautiful, inspirational, etc., I have always wanted to do my own stuff and that’s primarily what I do. I don’t get much support from my quilting community as they are into gathering for the LQS’s BOMs or doing the same pattern as a group with one’s own fabric selections. These are great ideas but it’s not what gets my own quilty juices flowing, so to speak. So to hear you think about, research, design, change your mind, back track, ask for feedback and eventually come up with a project you love that came wholly from your own creative brain gives me permission to do the same.

    Your podcast will most certainly be one I listen to as often as it’s published. It’s rather sad that I have come to the end of the podcast collection and must now wait for each new one as it is released but it will give me something else to look forward. Keep up your great stuff!

    Oh! I LOVE the idea of taking a cross stitch pattern and turning it into a quilt. You are just so clever.


    • Darla is GREAT and an inspiration to those that listen. I love when she talks about her quilting decisions… she has her own flavor and is delightfully original.

      That said while you wait for her next podcast there are about 10 other ladies in our podcasting community that you might enjoy. I like listening to them all as they all bring something special to the community.

      I too am where you are at WAITING WITH BAITED BREATH FOR MORE PODCASTS.

      NONNIE


  9. […] because of all the detail in the posts I had taken this spring (see part 1 & part 2), I had hardly any downtime trying to figure out how to work the machine the 2nd time. Even after 7 […]



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