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Thread: Long Arm practice

  1. #1
    Super Member bamamama's Avatar
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    I'm gonna be broke before I am good enough to do an actual quilt. I got my new tin lizzie yesterday and have practiced non stop. I can do meandering loops pretty well. LOL This is going to take alot longer than I thought. I keep boxing myself into a corner.

    I'm buying the cheapest batting possible went to JoAnns 4 times with 50% off coupons and tommorrow I am going to good will for sheets to quilt for practice.

    Don't take your LAQ for granted, this is very hard work!

    From any of you Long Arm Quilters out there, any advise?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Candy Apple Quilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bamamama
    I'm gonna be broke before I am good enough to do an actual quilt. I got my new tin lizzie yesterday and have practiced non stop. I can do meandering loops pretty well. LOL This is going to take alot longer than I thought. I keep boxing myself into a corner.

    I'm buying the cheapest batting possible went to JoAnns 4 times with 50% off coupons and tommorrow I am going to good will for sheets to quilt for practice.

    Don't take your LAQ for granted, this is very hard work!

    From any of you Long Arm Quilters out there, any advise?
    I think you have already figured out that it just takes practice, practice, and then some more practice!

    Be careful buying sheets, though..... sometimes the thread count can be very high, and that can cause you tension issues. While you are at Goodwill, you may be lucky enough to run across some unfinished quilt tops -- snap 'em up. That way, when you are done practicing, you can bind them and use them. I have to admit, when I did that, my dogs inherited the finished quilts, but they loved them!

    If you can stand one more purchase at Joann fabrics, I would suggest a bolt of muslin. They sell it wrapped in plastic, so you don't have to stand in line and have it cut. Just use a coupon. Oh! One other thing.... what kind of batting are you using?

  3. #3
    Power Poster Mariposa's Avatar
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    Remember to breathe! And don't grip the handles so hard!!
    Good lighting is a must also. I am usually barefoot, and have a cup of tea handy. Take breaks often and do a bit of stretching. Most of all, have fun!! ;)

  4. #4
    Super Member bamamama's Avatar
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    The first batch was cotton batting but that is expensive. I bought some Mountain Mist Polyester batting. I would not use it normally. Does it matter if it is just a practice piece?
    Quote Originally Posted by Candy Apple Quilts
    Quote Originally Posted by bamamama
    I'm gonna be broke before I am good enough to do an actual quilt. I got my new tin lizzie yesterday and have practiced non stop. I can do meandering loops pretty well. LOL This is going to take alot longer than I thought. I keep boxing myself into a corner.

    I'm buying the cheapest batting possible went to JoAnns 4 times with 50% off coupons and tommorrow I am going to good will for sheets to quilt for practice.

    Don't take your LAQ for granted, this is very hard work!

    From any of you Long Arm Quilters out there, any advise?
    I think you have already figured out that it just takes practice, practice, and then some more practice!

    Be careful buying sheets, though..... sometimes the thread count can be very high, and that can cause you tension issues. While you are at Goodwill, you may be lucky enough to run across some unfinished quilt tops -- snap 'em up. That way, when you are done practicing, you can bind them and use them. I have to admit, when I did that, my dogs inherited the finished quilts, but they loved them!

    If you can stand one more purchase at Joann fabrics, I would suggest a bolt of muslin. They sell it wrapped in plastic, so you don't have to stand in line and have it cut. Just use a coupon. Oh! One other thing.... what kind of batting are you using?

  5. #5
    Super Member BKrenning's Avatar
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    The pantographs may help you figure out how to keep yourself out of corners. Practicing the pattern you want over & over again by drawing on a whiteboard helps build muscle memory and is much cheaper than thread, fabric & batting.

    I also draw with chalk on the quilt top to plan out when I need to stop, change direction, etc. to keep me out of those corners.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Candy Apple Quilts's Avatar
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    As to cotton vs. poly batting on a practice piece...... it depends.

    If you are just practicing for the sake of getting to know the feel of the machine, then no, it doesn't really matter. Once you master those loops (and it won't be long, trust me!), you will be paying more attention to the quality of your stitches, and the tension of your threads. That's when a poly batting can either help you --- or hurt you. Confused yet?

    A poly batting may hide the quality of your stitches, and that can be a good thing, BUT...... if and when you do switch over to cotton batting, you may see a lot of change in the way your stitches actually look. If you don't have a stitch regulator, for example, cotton batting will make it easier to see the length of each stitch. If that's something you are trying to master (even stitch length), you may want to use cotton batting and contrasting thread.

    If you just want to be able to finish pretty quilts, and actually USE them (smile), then poly should be fine. Just keep an eye on your tension settings when switching back and forth between the two, because you could have some surprises on the back side!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Candy Apple Quilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BKrenning
    The pantographs may help you figure out how to keep yourself out of corners. Practicing the pattern you want over & over again by drawing on a whiteboard helps build muscle memory and is much cheaper than thread, fabric & batting.

    I also draw with chalk on the quilt top to plan out when I need to stop, change direction, etc. to keep me out of those corners.
    A whiteboard! Yes, I forgot about that! Fantastic idea!

    Also, someone told me a long time ago to watch "where you want to go" and NOT "where you are". It takes a little time to get used to keeping your eyes ahead of the needle, and not ON it. :-)

  8. #8
    Super Member Rose L's Avatar
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    Bamamama, this is going to be a very helpful thread for those of us just starting out. Thanks for starting it!

    Rose

  9. #9
    Super Member amandasgramma's Avatar
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    Yes, the whiteboard helped me a lot.
    Also -- when at Goodwill look for some cheap blankets that you can use as batting....just for the first practices.

    I've had mine since last Fall.....I just gave my GF 5 of the practice pieces. She bound them, gave 2 to her sons and the rest went to the humane society. I have 2 more to give her and that's not counting the ones I tossed!!!!!!

  10. #10
    Super Member GwynR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stewyscrewy
    Yes use your practice piece over and over till you feel comfortable and use different color thread to see what you are doing. Tuck your elbows into your body and move your whole body it helps smoothing your movements. Another way to practice is to use a pantograph to help your movements. You dont have to stitch any just follow the designs. You are in for lots and lots of practice. Have fun. when you get tired take a major break and then come back to it.
    Great idea to use over and over with different thread! I am going to remember that! Love the pantograph idea for practicing to! We are buying a longarm in a few months!

  11. #11
    Junior Member Tamara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bamamama
    I'm gonna be broke before I am good enough to do an actual quilt. I got my new tin lizzie yesterday and have practiced non stop. I can do meandering loops pretty well. LOL This is going to take alot longer than I thought. I keep boxing myself into a corner.

    I'm buying the cheapest batting possible went to JoAnns 4 times with 50% off coupons and tommorrow I am going to good will for sheets to quilt for practice.

    Don't take your LAQ for granted, this is very hard work!

    From any of you Long Arm Quilters out there, any advise?
    Will you keep us updated on how you do, because I'm thinking about buying one and I'd like to know how long it will take me to learn, also can you get a special computer program that you hook up to it that will do a lot of the design work for you ??? just asking

  12. #12
    Super Member sewwhat85's Avatar
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    so many great hints

  13. #13
    Senior Member Sapphire_Rae's Avatar
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    Thanks for this thread!!! I'm at the practice stage too. I can stipple, meander and loop pretty good, but now it's time to build my skill at what to put in individual blocks. Just got some templates and i'm looking forward to working with them. Need way more practice on feathers. Thanks for all your suggestions. Using these machines is an art and not easy work. I really admire all the beautiful quilting I see here.

  14. #14
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    For batting look at Goodwill for those padded mattress toppers.

  15. #15
    a regular here hazeljane's Avatar
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    My daughter and future SIL have two rescued bunnies as pets. She asked me to make her "bunny quilts" that she could use in the bunny pen for them to run around on. She was using old sheets, but they are not stiff enough, and the bunnies bunched them up.

    So I took old sheets, top and bottom, and my first practice quilts went to the bunnies. I practiced different size designs and movements, and figured out the tension issues. (I only have a mid-arm, but the theory is the same.) And my first two quilts went to the bunnies, who are chewing up the edges, but they are holding up after being washed once a week!

  16. #16
    Super Member bamamama's Avatar
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    That's a good idea too. Someone also sent me a PM and suggested that I roll my first practice quilt back, put new cloth on the top and use it over again. Thanks to all for all of the wonderful advise and ideas. Really appreciated.

    Quote Originally Posted by true4uca
    For batting look at Goodwill for those padded mattress toppers.

  17. #17
    vesta_f's Avatar
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    I have been using a Voyager17 for about 8 months now and i find practice is a must. i have a 2ft sq piece of plexiglass and i can size my design to the quilt and retrace the design over and over before i quilt it. and i always have a cup of tea and i have a tall stool i sit on while doing slow quilting work. my practice quilts end up at Ronald MacDonald house

  18. #18
    Super Member fabric_fancy's Avatar
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    you can use water soluble thread in either the bobbin or the top and then dissolve the thread and use the batting, backing, and top over and over again.

  19. #19
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    Mainly what everyone else has suggested.

    Practice, practice practice.

    Any time you are not using the longarm, and can, practice drawing even if in the dust on the furniture! lol

    I draw on paper, on table tops, anywhere just got get the feel for a pattern.

    And yes, remember to breath and relax. Keep your grip relaxed otherwise your muscles will hurt.

    Go with the flow of your body not just your arms.

    Post your progress!

    Have FUN!

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