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Thread: Brand new long arm owner-need Advice

  1. #1
    Super Member Cogito's Avatar
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    Brand new long arm owner-need Advice

    So I am the proud new owner of a used long arm with the Grace Pinnacle frame. I admit to being totally ignorant about such things...so I need advice about leaders, loading quilt on leaders and more. I have read about using leaders. Was going to buy Grace pre-made ones, but Jeesh they are expensive and I read complaints about Print not straight. I also don't know how to load and read about using Velcro, basting, Red Snappers and others. So I need your opinions:
    what do you use and why...why do you like your method, why would you NOT use another method, etc. now I understand that everyone will have their own preferences, so please don't respond with that comment. What I am looking for is trends in responses so I can decide best way to proceed. Should I make my own leaders or buy them? If I make, are there good directions out there? What are "uh ohs" I should be aware of? Give me all you've got, lol!
    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited by Cogito; 04-06-2013 at 06:43 PM.

  2. #2
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    My setup (Voyager midarm with Hinterberg stretch frame) came with leaders already attached, so I didn't have to deal with that. From what I can tell, my leaders are made of unprimed canvas (comes on rolls from a place like Dick Blick):
    http://www.dickblick.com/products/fr...-canvas-rolls/ . She finished the edges with a serger.

    I haven't seen good instructions for making leaders. If you haven't already, I would join the Yahoo group for Grace frames: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GraceMachineFrame/ and ask there.

    Attaching the leaders to the rollers is a study in itself. The previous owner of my frame attached the leaders with duct tape, which is a popular solution. They don't last forever, though, and I can see where mine are eventually going to give out. If I had to do it myself, I would research using double-sided carpet tape to attach leaders. Also, I read that using a laser light beam is an important aid to attaching the leaders to the rollers evenly.

    I added zippers to my leaders to avoid having to pin. I chose this solution over velcro because I read that velcro attracts lint and loose threads like crazy. Since my frame is not in a semi-sterile environment (and I am messy!), I figured velcro would not be a good choice for me. I have read that the red snappers can be difficult for arthritis or older hands like mine. One person solved that problem by making her leaders long enough so that they could be flipped onto her panto table; that way she could place her entire weight on the red snappers. I sew my quilt pieces directly onto the zipper tape because I am lazy and it works well for me; most people add short leaders to the zippers and sew to the leader rather than directly on the zipper tape.

    I Googled to find a couple of tutorials on adding zippered leaders. They were helpful. I got my long zippers on Amazon, I think from zipperstop (they also sell on eBay). One thing I did wrong was to sew my zippers too deep into the leaders. They should be more on the edge so you cannot inadvertently quilt right through the leader. (I solved my problem by basting the excess leader fabric under so it does not get caught in my quilting. Some day I will remove the zippers and re-attach properly.)

  3. #3
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    I made my own leaders. My frame came with 11 yards of about 12" fabric. I made my leaders 10 feet long because you can't quilt the last part of the frame on either side. Plus, you want to be able to move the machine to one side to change bobbins, clean the workings, etc. Besides, I don't know if I WANT to quilt anything bigger than 120 inches!!!

    Also, my frame and machine set was a demo. They had 8 foot leaders on it. Someone had made them, but they pieced the leaders. It took me a while, but I finally figured out why my quilt wound up tighter in some places than others. The french seams that they used to piece the leaders took up more room than the rest of the leader. So if you are going to make your own, buy enough length of fabric to make the leader without piecing.
    My poles have the loopy side of self adhesive velcro stuck on them all the way along the pole. My leaders have the hook side of velcro sewn down one long edge. I adhere the leaders to the poles and then pin my quilt backing, batting and top to the leaders.

    Also. There are many videos on youtube that show you how to load a quilt. Take a look! Ann

  4. #4
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    somewhere, several years ago, I saw a video that showed leaders made of red and white ticking being loaded to the poles. If you are going to pin the backing to the leaders, ticking with the stripes going horizontally would really work nicely because you would have a line to guide you in the pinning process. The main thing is to get the leader attached to the poles and the backing perfectly straight. My leaders are made of canvas and my Nolting came with them already attached with some type of tape that is extremely strong. I need to ask exactly what type of type it is because it is remarkable. I staple my backing to the leaders and because they are canvas they are strong enough to handle the rough treatment without damage. Stapling is the fastest and easiest way to attack leaders to backing IMHO. PM me if you would like info on doing this.

  5. #5
    Super Member drivingsusan's Avatar
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    This video helped me a LOT when I fist got my Grace frame....I, too did not have a clue!!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWDolmYUMOs
    They also have other videos that are really helpful!!!
    Good luck and have fun!!!!
    Joy of getting older: If I do something stupid,
    I won't remember long enough to stay embarrassed

  6. #6
    Super Member GEMRM's Avatar
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    Is there a guide or reference somewhere that tells you how long to make each leader? I mean the part that rolls up - how long do you make it? I noticed in the video that the different rails had different length leaders.

  7. #7
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    The leaders are different lengths because they are different distances from the needle. To anyone making leaders, I strongly suggest you prewash/shrink the canvas, because if you later need to spot clean the leaders, they won't spot shrink and wrinkle. Ask me how I know... I had to completely remove my leaders, wash, dry, iron, iron, iron, and reattach them. And now they are significantly shorter (left to right, along the poles) then they should be. Canvas shrinks ALOT.

  8. #8
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GEMRM View Post
    Is there a guide or reference somewhere that tells you how long to make each leader? I mean the part that rolls up - how long do you make it? I noticed in the video that the different rails had different length leaders.
    I have a Hinterberg Stretch frame and the manual that came with it had instructions on the lengths of the leaders.

    I made my own leaders out of a tightly woven thin fabric and attached them to the poles with velcro. personally, i have not had an issue with the leaders collecting lint.
    Nancy in western NY
    before you speak T.H.I.N.K.
    T is it True? H is it Helpful? I is it Inspiring? N is it Necessary? K is it Kind?


  9. #9
    Super Member AliKat's Avatar
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    I have 2 sets of leaders. The ones by the HQ and the ones I made. I used ticking for my homemade leaders and marked them with a permanent Sharpie. Both sets are attached to the frame with industrial sticky Velcro on the frame and sewn on Velcro on the leaders.

    Previously I pinned the top of the quilt backing and them used the QuiltTak for the bottom end of the quilt so I could get closer to the bottom of the quilt. I did mostly charity quilts and sometimes there isn't much backing around the quilt for my comfort.

    Next time I'll use the red snappers I bought. I have a friend playing with the red snapper [?] side pieces so they will be easier for me to use.
    Have fun quilting! If it isn't fun, you will miss a lot.
    ali

  10. #10
    Super Member quilts4charity's Avatar
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    I made mine from striped canvas that I got off Joann's bargain table, I have the velcro attached to my poles and the edge of my leaders. works great and I've not had any problems with it. I use the red snappers to attach my back and top to the leaders. I also made a short set of leaders for small quilts, they are only 60" wide.

  11. #11
    Super Member alleyoop1's Avatar
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    You can buy any heavy fabric, like canvas, to use as leaders. I have leaders that came with my frame and are already marked. I have loaded my quilt by pinning it to the leader with straight pins and I have red snappers too. Both work well and depending on the thickness of the quilt I will use one or the other. One 'trick' I have learned was to purchase a long tape measure - 120" and fasten it to one of the take up roller to help center your quilt. You might want to check out nancysnotions.com or ericas.com for leader cloths and tape measure as well as other tools to help you. I think they are less expensive than Grace Co.

  12. #12
    Super Member newbee3's Avatar
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    you can make your own leaders and yours would probably be straight. I have clamps with velcrow attached works fine for me I either baste or pin. My machine is old so it does not have needle down needle up so mine is just stitching and I find that to be a little difficult to keep straight. I have had mine for only a couple months and I have alot to learn.

  13. #13
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    I have a 10' Grace Pinnacle frame that I bought used and came with cloth leaders that looked like they were made from bed sheet material, I didn't like them, they were wayy too flexible and flimsy and I had to pin to use them in which when I would get to the bottom of my quilt there were always the tiny little waves of material in between the pins, I didn't like that. Needless to say it takes forever to pin a queen size quilt on the frame! I had taken a long arm class and they had canvas leaders and I love how straight they laid and how they were more firm and help fabric nicely. I put them on my Christmas list along with Red Snappers, they are a dream! no more pinning! they are fast just like the videos show! I can load my quilts in less then 10min! I am 27 and have been quilting for a year now. The only thing I need now is a long arm machine, I have a mid arm Janome 1600P on my frame now but dream of having something with a longer throat one day. I have attached the links to check out the canvas leaders & red snappers they really speed loading & unloading quilts up!

    http://quiltsonthecorner.3dcartstore...ers_ep_42.html

    http://quiltsonthecorner.3dcartstore...-10_p_550.html
    LIVE ~ LAUGH ~ LOVE

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    Also something that just happened to me,
    Make sure your backing is always at least 6inchs extra on all sizes of your top, the fabric moves as you quilt. My customer had made a quilt back in the 90's and had the backing fabric from back then and there was only like 3inches extra on the backing all the way around. Needless to say we tried to make it work due to not being able to buy anymore of that fabric...well, by the end of the quilt it had shrunk up and we were 4 inches too short on the bottom....we had to trim off the extra on the sides and sew that onto the bottom to finish it out. So always make sure you have lots of extra backing because it isn't worth the stress and frustration if it happens to you...though I am told it happens to every long armer once but I wish it would have never happened to me :/ oh well.
    LIVE ~ LAUGH ~ LOVE

  15. #15
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I started out pinning, switched to velcro, then switched to red snappers. I love the red snappers! And the side pieces, red-e-edge, are even better for tensioning the sides of the quilt.

  16. #16
    Super Member GEMRM's Avatar
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    My frame (Little Gracie II) came with canvas type leaders the original owner made. They seem pretty good, quite firm and not stretchy. They are varying lengths. I need to check paperwork that came with the frame to see if they are recommended sizes but I think they are ok.
    I did buy a set of "Leader Grips" after seeing them demonstrated at Lancaster AQS. I really like how simple they are to attach, and I will have enough pieces left over to make the side grippers too as the retail store near me only had one size set in stock, for a frame larger than mine. I didn't buy them at the show because I needed to take some measurements from my frame. They are really easy to attach, yet hold firmly.
    As I also bought the Sure Stitch stitch regulator, I am closer to getting my set up ready for me to get practicing on! Good thing as I will be out of work in a few weeks.

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    Where do you get red snappers?

  18. #18
    Super Member leaha's Avatar
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    oh I want to follow this thread as I got my machine a year ago and have not used it yet, have so much to learn, thank you!
    dare to dream

  19. #19
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Here's a video of the Red Snappers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdESb8_p5ec . They are available several places online, including NancysNotions and http://www.quiltsonthecorner.com/ .

    Just be aware that they can be difficult to snap on if you don't have good hand strength or have arthritis. I decided to use zippered leaders.

  20. #20
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    When I had my shortarm on a SuperQuilter frame, I chose to attach the leaders (pillow ticking fabrics) by Velcro because I could make them any width I wanted...I used 36, 45, 64, 80 inches etc. The original leaders were to be made wiht casings so they could be slipped on and off. That was a pain since it involved taking the bars off the frame to slide the leaders on. Also, the leaders would not stay in place when it came time to roll them up. I didn't bother to use middle leaders. No matter how wide the leaders were, the short leader was 12 inches long while the long leader was 22 inches long. For example, if I was doing a baby quilt, I might use the 45 inch wide leaders and have another project, say, a large lap quilt, on a different sized set of leaders in case I wanted to switch them back and forth. It is far cheaper to make your own leaders than to buy premade leaders.

    Now with my Bailey on Gracie Majestic frame, the leaders are a dream to put on the machine. Again, I have made different sized leaders.

  21. #21
    Super Member Cogito's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuiltingByCourtney
    . I have attached the links to check out the canvas leaders & red snappers :) they really speed loading & unloading quilts up! :)

    [URL
    http://quiltsonthecorner.3dcartstores.com/Red-Snappers_ep_42.html[/URL]

    http://quiltsonthecorner.3dcartstore...-10_p_550.html

    Thanks so much for adding the links! Thanks to everyone here who responded to my query! Wow, I love quiltingboard friends!

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