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Thread: I did it! Longarm has been ordered and now I have a question.

  1. #1
    Junior Member indycat32's Avatar
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    I did it! Longarm has been ordered and now I have a question.

    Ordered a HQ Simply 16 with the 10 foot frame. It should arrive in about a week, and naturally I'll want to start playing immediately. I'm wondering what you folks use for practice fabric. Is a cheap muslin OK. How about an old sheet? I don't want to use good (i.e., expensive) fabric but also don't want to create problems for myself.

    Also, to anyone who has this set up, how much quilting space do you have by the time you get to the bottom of, say, a queen size quilt? Maybe I should have asked that question before purchasing.

  2. #2
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    A friend of mine recently took a longarm class at Road2CA. Her instructor told them to use felt as a practice piece. I bought some and tried it, and it's great. You don't need any backing or batting, and felt is often 60" wide, so it's very inexpensive.

  3. #3
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    You can get more use from the fabric you use for practice by making your first practice run in two light color threads the second practice run in medium threads then number 3 in dark threads. In each practice run use a different color of thread for the top and the bobbin.

  4. #4
    Power Poster oksewglad's Avatar
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    Congratulations! I have had my new to me LA about a month now. My initial practice piece was a quilt sandwich with a thin batting about 3 x 3 feet which I then cut up into potholders and have added a piece of insulbrite and new backing.

    Have you been FMQing on your domestic? If so you have developed some muscle memory, ie simple meandering.

    Do you have a quilt flimsy already to go? For my next "practice" I put a scrappy top and started with a meander and in no time had a full size quilt done. I figure I might as well have something to show for my practice work. The meander quilt helped me learn to gauge how far I could quilt before I reached the front edge. I put Quilt #11 on the frame last night a HST scrap baby quilt for donation and each one has been a learning experience.

    Get yourself a notebook and list Date, Description, Size, type of batting, backing and thread. Make note of the stitches that you have used. Make notes on what worked and what didn't...things like tension, thread breakage. It takes little time and you will be glad you did. Oh and look at the many tutorials on line. I have a large white board (18" x 24") and practice doodling every once in a while. And most of all have a great time!
    Don't worry spider.
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    ---Basho
    Nothing's too small...I love miniatures.

  5. #5
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    muslin, practice panels, you can even use same sandwich and put a new piece of muslin over it so you don't have to reload a new sandwich
    Brother (XL-3500i, CV3550, SQ-9050, Dreamweaver XE6200D), Juki MO-2000QVP, Handiquilter Avante

  6. #6
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    Congrats on your new long arm quilting set up. It is an exciting thing for a quilter to get one!

    I have an HQ16, no stitch regulator, on a frame. (I use the pcquilter, a computerized system to "do" the actual quilting.) In general, the thicker the sandwich, the less depth for the quilting. Flannel, minkie and fleece are thicker than most 100% cotton quilting fabric, so take up more room on the take up rail/in the throat of the machine.

    The same is true for batting. The thicker it is, the less depth you have for quilting on the frame. Batting that I use is Hobbs 80/20, not too thin and not too thick.

    Note: for a variety of personal reasons, I only do end to end quilting. If you intend to do more customized quilting, the numbers I'm giving may not work for you.

    Having said all that, and considering that most of the quilts I quilt are 100% cotton with the Hobbs 80/20 batt:

    For larger quilts, over 70 inches long, you are probably best off allowing no more than 10 inches of depth for quilting/in the throat of the machine.

    For a baby or toddler quilt, which I define as 40 - 50 inches long, I have gotten away with a 12 inch depth for quilting, but generally allow myself only 11 inches of depth to quilt in.

    Lap quilts, 50 - 70 inches long, at most 10 - 11 inches of depth for quilting.

    Happy quilting!
    A quilt is like a good life. It's full of mistakes, but, in the end, it looks pretty good.

  7. #7
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    Where did you buy your new 16 inch machine? I am considering going up a bit and cannot find anything much that is affordable. I have a Grace SR2 frame and a Juki 98 and that doesn't allow much quilting area. Big jump in price though when you go to wider harp space.

  8. #8
    Junior Member indycat32's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the great information. It never would have occurred to me that I could use the same sandwich more than once. I've been renting a longarm and have done meander, loops, and spirals. I've also taken a few classes. I have my notebook and my dry erase board which I play around with while watching basketball.

    oksewglad: Really good idea to keep notes. again, would not have occurred to me. I have a few flimsies which I've had for years and never finished because I don't really like them. Perfect for practice!

    Mama's place: I bought the full setup from Handiquilter.

  9. #9
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    I used inexpensive muslin for practice quilts sheets ( from the thrift shops would be good options too.)
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  10. #10
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    Congrats on your purchase! When we got our long arm ( King Quilter 18x8) we used a sandwich scrap to practice on. Let me know how you like your new machine! We are in search of purchasing a sit down quilting machine. We are going to test drive an APQS George next week. Happy Quilting!!!
    Family is a priority, not a convenience!
    Take time to be friendly... It's the road to happiness.
    Take time to give... It is too short a day to be selfish.


  11. #11
    Power Poster oksewglad's Avatar
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    One hint the previous owner gave me was to have a small practice "quilt" next to your quilt. To the backing front and back leaders, I pin a 3 layer sandwich on the far end (for me the left end is easiest). I do a practice run to check my tension and adjust accordingly. It's easy to check by unpinning and look at the underside. Sometimes I get a little heavy handed with my oil, and this helps absorb some excess before I sew on the quilt.
    Don't worry spider.
    I keep house
    casually.
    ---Basho
    Nothing's too small...I love miniatures.

  12. #12
    Super Member AliKat's Avatar
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    I used fabric from the sale table. When I had finished playing with it I cut it up for various carryalls.

    Love the idea of felt. Wish I had know of that.
    Have fun quilting! If it isn't fun, you will miss a lot.
    ali

  13. #13
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    Never thought of using felt. Just love this board and all the knowledge out there.

  14. #14
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    I marked practice muslin in permanent marker, used water soluble thread in the bobbin and 50 wt in the top.

    When quilted soak the sandwich and the top thread pulls out. Ready to go again!

  15. #15
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    institches33 could you use a washable marker and do a new design every time? Great idea!!!

  16. #16
    Senior Member petpainter's Avatar
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    You guys are awesome! I have recently bought a longarm also and just came to the end of my muslin sandwich and hate to waste another whole one- what a great idea to just add the top layer of muslin!!! It was miles long so wasting the batting again wasn't appealing. I learn something every day here!

  17. #17
    Super Member jmoore's Avatar
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    Congratulations indycat...how exciting! Looks like you’ve gotten a lot of wonderful suggestions here (as always). : )
    attitude is everything...the rest will fall into place.

  18. #18
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    Let us know how it goes with the new machine. I am sort of looking myself. After a few years or practicing and quilting a panel for a baby quilt and some odd fabric for throw pillows for the porch swing, etc. I am realizing that my Juki has such a limited width for quilting on my frame but then my frame isn't made for more than a 13-15 inch machine. Decisions, decisions. Ha Still trying to decide what direction to go. Q'Nique has some tension issues for some users and BabyLock Jazz has a 12 inch throat but doesn't have needle down feature. Oh Me. Hard to decide and no good places for me to try out machines. Will continue to follow along here.

  19. #19
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    I was told that inexpensive panels from JoAnn’s are great for practice. They make cute baby gifts.

  20. #20
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    An old mattress pad works great for practice. The sandwich is already made for you!

  21. #21
    Senior Member lyric girl's Avatar
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    I used both muslin and cheap bed sheets when I started.

  22. #22
    Power Poster sewbizgirl's Avatar
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    I bought a Juki 2200QVP sitdown longarm. I made about 8 'sandwiches' out of ugly fabric I knew I wouldn't use, and scrap batting. I do my practice on those, and once they are full, the pet shelters love to get them as dog and kitty beds.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member Pagzz's Avatar
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    if you belong to a guild or group that makes donation quilts they will often give you tops, batting and backing to do the quilting for them. at one point our guild had 300 tops but that number has been reduced. my APQS dealer had tops and backing from another guild and I could take them, supply the batting, quilt and return them. those make great practice pieces.

    doodle on paper. it helps a lot.
    Peggy

    "Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are."
    -Chinese proverb
    http://peggybsquilting.blogspot.com/

  24. #24
    Super Member quiltingshorttimer's Avatar
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    a friend told me when I got my LA to load with some inexpensive fabric (backing and bat too) and quilt it all the way through with one color of contrast thread, switch to another color and go over again, and repeat a 3rd time--voila--you now have a picnic quilt that will not blow away (too much thread). We use it when the g-boys come over and want to play on the floor--keeps them off the dog hair!

  25. #25
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lilli480 View Post
    An old mattress pad works great for practice.
    Really?? It wouldn't be too thick??

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