Hello all.. I've recently purchased my first long arm machine and frame. I have been quilting and sewing for just about 10 years now and I'll say that it has humbled me along the way. I started quilting mostly baby quilts on a tiny 32 inch round kitchen table using a sewing machine I bought on sale at WalMart for about $80. I've moved up to better machines, bigger tables and now have a big quilting room and just when I felt comfortable quilting on my home machine my frame arrived and whalla.. I feel like that beginner quilter again...
I've wanted a longarm and frame for a while but couldn't really afford it. Then I found a combo deal and purchased a Hinterberg Stretch frame with the Viking Voyager 17 inch long arm machine for just under $4,000. The machine feels a bit clunky to me as I estimate it is at least 10 years old (refurbished) but it works. It came with a SLR and I've put together one twin sized quilt with it so far. I've got a queen sized and another twin sized quilt top waiting in the wings to be quilted.
But here's the thing... I feel like someone has taken my training wheels off my bike and I'm 4 years old again. The first project I simply did a meandering stitch to get used to the controls. If feels so different operating the machine from the handle rather than having a foot pedal.. the instruction booklet is right, these machines are like nothing I've used before. So tonight, in between quilt tops I attached some fat quarter sized practice "sandwiches" to the frame and thought I'd try to do some free hand patterns, practice tracing a line and see if I can do a simple feather. OH BOY.. I stink at this!! It is so difficult and I am embarrassed at how terrible I am at moving this machine around.. I couldn't create a pleasing design to save myself.
I know that a lot of the fantastic intricate quilting that we see is done with a computer aided machine, but did any of you who do this free hand have this hard of a time getting used to creating presentable free hand quilting designs?
I'm discouraged and hope I didn't just buy a $4000.00 meander machine : \ I could use some encouragement right about now..