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Thread: Learning curve FMQ versus Long Arm Quilting

  1. #1
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    Could some of you experienced FMQers and Longarmers contrast these 2 processes.

    I would like to learn both, but I am wondering which method has the larger learning curve?

    And which method takes longer? (all things being equal as far as the amount of quilting and the level of experience one has with both methods)

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Super Member feline fanatic's Avatar
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    I think for every person it is different. I think there is a certain amount of talent necessary to shorten the learning curve. For me, I sucked at FMQ, I hated the sandwiching pinning process and I just didn't enjoy FMQ on a domestic.

    I got a longarm and I hit the ground running! I had a very short learning curve. Here is a link to the very first quilt I did on my LA and I only practiced for about a month on one sandwich before doing this.
    http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-77776-1.htm

    But it is not the same for everyone. I know some people who have had their LA for years and still only do a meander or a panto.

    Both take a lot of practice to get really good but some people seem to have a natural apptitude for one or the other and seem to cut the learning curve to almost nothing. Others take years.

  3. #3
    Super Member ckcowl's Avatar
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    long arm quilters do free motion quilting all the time- i don't quite get your question-
    whether you are doing free motion quilting with your domestic machine- a mid arm or a long arm- it is still free motion quilting-
    the basic difference is when using your long arm you are moving the fabric around when using a mid arm or long arm the fabric is loaded onto a frame and your are moving the machine-
    they all take practice- so as far as the learning curve- it just depends on each individual person- how much you practice- and how patient you are learning the process.

  4. #4
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    I do both and for me the learning curve was longer to FMQ on my regular machine. Because you move the fabric under the needle when you FMQ, I had a little difficulty coordinating the machine speed to my body speed. But once I got the hang of it, I found I really liked it. Learning longarm quilting came much easier.

  5. #5
    Senior Member lfletcher's Avatar
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    I found it much more difficult to do the FMQ on my Janome than the long arm quilting on my Gammill. Also, it was much more time consuming on the Janome.

  6. #6
    Super Member PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    I started with FMQ on myViking sewing machine. I actually did OK, after some practice, not great, but not horrible either. I sort of fell into a deal on a Long Arm. I did find a difference in the motion. In FMQ the 'pencil' is stationary and you move the paper. With The long arm, it seems much more natural, as you are moving the pencil, not the paper. They actually tell you to practice drawing before quilting. I was much more successful with the LA. I put large pieces of blank newsprint on the kitchen counter, used a felt tip pen and practiced the designs using my whole arm, not just my hand.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for all of your replies. And I realize that both are free motioning. I just wasn't sure that if moving the fabric on a domestic was easier or more difficult that moving the machine on a longarm.

    Sounds like I will have to try both and see for myself which comes easier to me.

    Feline fanatic- your first quilt off the LA looks pretty amazing -- obvious natural talent!

  8. #8
    Super Member BKrenning's Avatar
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    I believe frame quilting is easier for anyone as PaperPrincess stated since it is more natural--moving the pen versus moving the paper. I like both methods however the constant hunching over the machine & wrestling with the fabric to fit it through the throat was more than my damaged shoulder could take. Even sewing rows together or borders on bed size quilts is a problem on a bad day.

    Loading small quilts, wallhangings, tablerunners, etc. on a frame is a pain so those I still do on the sewing machine unless I have several that I can load on one backing fabric--like a set of placemats or 2 simple baby quilts.

  9. #9
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    after getting better on my domestic and getting used to moving the quilt rather than the machine, I decided to go with the larger sit down Handiquilter so that I didn't have to change methods. I was able to get on it same day and do the same level of quilting (if not better due to a better machine).

    I was concerned about a large learning curve on a long arm (along with the space issue). In trying them at quilt shows, I just liked the sit down better.

  10. #10
    Super Member fabric_fancy's Avatar
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    for me frame quilting was so much easier but i had already been FMQ on a DSM for a year before i got the frame.

    the hardest part for me was dealing with the throat space on a frame because you can't puddle a quilt like you can on a DSM.

    when i got my frame i only had a 9 inch throat and doing a 12 inch design took a lot of stopping and rolling of the quilt vs. on a DSM i would just puddle the quilt and do a 12 inch design without stopping.

    i have an 18 inch throat on my frame now and i still use my DSM for FMQ too. i only put the large quilts on the frame. if i'm doing a table runner or a small wall hanging i'll just FMQ on my DSM.

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