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Long Arm Quilting Class - Looking for tips

Long Arm Quilting Class - Looking for tips

Old 01-03-2020, 01:08 PM
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Default Long Arm Quilting Class - Looking for tips

I am signed up to take a Long Arm Quilting class (tomorrow, Saturday) at a nearby business that offers rental use of several long arm quilting machines. I would love to hear any tips anyone might have to help me get the most out of the class. (The class is required before renting time on the machines.) Thanks!

Here is the description of the class.

Longarm Quilting 101:

  • Quilt preparation.
  • Loading and preparing the quilt for stitching.
  • Various types of quilting including edge to edge, ruler work, and free motion custom quilting.
  • Available threads and patterns
  • Resources and techniques to improve your quilting design plans.

Class Details

No prior longarm quilting experience is needed for this 3 hour class. Louise overviews the quilting possibilities and shares the basic skills you will need to complete your quilts.With a maximum class size of 9 quilters, you will learn how to load a quilt, choose patterns, thread, and batting. Each participant receives a booklet covering the class information for your future reference. You can try free motion, ruler work, and pantographs and observe the computer guided longarm quilting machines available to rent.

The class runs from 9 am to noon. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Covered beverages and a snack may be useful. Bring a pencil to take notes in your booklet and bring your questions!
platyhiker is offline  
Old 01-03-2020, 02:29 PM
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I took such a class and learned so much I took it again. It was worth it. The info they gave you pretty much covers it all - wear comfy clothing, bring water, a notepad and paper.
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Old 01-03-2020, 04:49 PM
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Take a notebook, a pencil and your phone for pictures. Make notes on how to load the quilt, very important. Remember to pull up your threads to the top and hang on when starting to quilt. Take breaks and rotate your shoulders, etc.
Remember to have fun.
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Old 01-03-2020, 05:04 PM
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I took a certification class a few months ago but it was 6 hours and class size was limited to 3, one of us per machine. With only 3 hours, my best advice is to really pay attention and if allowed take videos and pictures. Good luck and have fun!
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Old 01-03-2020, 08:05 PM
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when I took a certification course it was about 5 hrs long. Keep detailed notes on the loading,advancing, etc of the quilt on the frame--that is so crucial. hopefully that part will be hands-on. the work with pantos, rulers, FMQ is probably not going to be lengthy if 9 are sharing one machine and that's probably ok as you will need time to work individually on those things anyway.
takes lots of pictures and videos if possible.
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Old 01-03-2020, 08:28 PM
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I have a problem with my back tensing up when I use my longarm. I end up having to take a muscle relaxer or an anti-inflammatory to free up my back. Enjoy yourself. I hope they have handouts. It's aggravating when you leave a class and realize that you didn't have time to write anything down and you know there are important things you have forgotten.
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Old 01-04-2020, 03:22 AM
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Sounds like a great class. A phone for pictures is a must, for when the demo on loading the quilt is shown. It took me several practices to load a quilt on my machine, I would just load and unload one for practice, which if your purpose for this class is for rental of a machine in the future, you won't have that opportunity, so lots of pictures will allow you to reference when you are loading your quilt during your rental time. If you do have your own long arm and this class is a precursor, the pictures will help you when your home and on your own. Enjoy your class and have fun.
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Old 01-04-2020, 04:03 AM
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It sounds like a great introduction to long arm quilting. Please share your experience after taking the class.
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Old 01-04-2020, 08:14 AM
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Barb in La....have you looked into raising or lowering your frame so that your quilt is at a more comfortable level for you? Also, look into sitting while you longarm..it might help your back. I hate to see anyone in pain while trying to be artistic..it really cramps your style! Just because a longarm is set up one way, it doesn't mean that you can't adapt it to make it easier for you to use.
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Old 01-04-2020, 12:55 PM
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Thank you to all the people who provided tips!

jmoore asked to hear about how the class went, so here it is.

The class wasn't quite what I expected, but it was still good. I think the title "Longarm Quilting 101" is not the best title for this class - something like "How to be ready for your first long arm quilting session" would be better.

The class covered
1) how to get your quilt ready - e.g. make sure top and bottom are squared and well pressed, loose threads clipped, etc, have 5" of extra back and batting on each side
2) batting and thread options
3) the various machines - two are hand guided, two are computer (or hand) guided, all have stitch regulators and hydraulic lifts for adjusting the height, one takes a different zipper size than the rest (108" vs 126")
4) the different areas of the shop - sewing area, free batting table, fabric donation area, an acuquilt cutter
5) how to put zippers on quilt top and backing
6) how start and start stitching (start: 1 stitch, pull up bobbin thread, 3 stitches to tack)
7) how to follow a panto graph

The class did cover loading a quilt onto the machine - the shop owner will walk people through that their first several sessions - she says the only way to learn that is by doing it. (I plan to follow your suggestions of taking photos and notes when I do that!) (The booklet that we got with the class does have pretty detailed instruction on how to load the a quilt.)

For hands on work, we paired up and rotated through three activities
1) pinning the zippers on a quilt top and back (we just need to pin about 10" near the center of each zipper to show that we had the idea; once the instructor checked our work, we unpinned it for the next folks)
2) tracing/stitching a panto graph for a quilt (the quilt is one for a charity, made by a local quilt guild). We first moved the machine through the design with the stitching turned off, to get the feel of maneuvering the machine, then with the stitching turned on. After stitching a row, the instructor showed us how to advance the quilt.
3) starting and stopping stitching and a small amount of free motion work (I had enough time to try writing my name, echo around it and then try some feathers (not too surprisingly, the feathers looked rough!)

The class itself cost $60, and includes two hours of machine rental. Since the machines rent for $25/hour, that means the class really cost $10. I also got a reusable shopping bag (love those!), an ice scraper, a calendar magnet (about 4" x 6"), and a pen, and all of those have the business name and phone number prominently on them. :-) Plus, the owner had a box of Dunkin Donuts Munchkins (doughnut holes for those outside of DD range) for us to eat at the mid-class break. Oh, and I brought home a free(!) 93" x 45" piece of wool batting and a few small pieces of blue fabric for a scrap project I have going. (People who take from the fabric donation area are expected to donate back to it; the batting is completely free - it's the end of various rolls or large trimmings.)

After the class ended, I asked if I could try some ruler work on the machine I used for the free motion, and got the go ahead to do so. I did some straight line diamond shapes, played with a feather stencil (I couldn't figure out how to set up the next one, but I copied down the URL from the stencil to look it up), and played with a spiral stencil. Ruler work is very appealing to me!

At this point, I'm thinking that for my first session, I will go in with some plain white fabric I have on hand and just practice the various things I am most interested in quilting. I'd like to work on ruler stuff, some free motion fillers and feathers. I'm also interested in trying out some of the computer guided patters. The shop web site has the Statler patterns that are available, and I had a lot of fun taking a quick browse through them before the class. The shop is also willing buy other patterns ("on a limited basis") and has a list of 6 different sites of quilting patterns. After I've got my quilting up to the some-what presentable level, I've got the fabric on hand for a fast-to-put-together quilt (about twin sized) that I will use for more practice. I'm hoping that after that quilt, I will have my quilting up to the point where I feel ready to tackle the queen sized Lone Star quilt I'm nearly done with. For that quilt, I want to do feather work for the larger corner squares and side triangles.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the class and excited about learning to do long arm quilting. I think that someone who expecting more about how to actually do various quilting patterns might feel a little at sea at end of this class. The instructor did briefly show us a couple of different quilting design books - Leah Day's 365 designs book (she noted that this just shows the designs, not how to stitch them), an Angela Walters book (has instructions on how to stitch the designs) and a third book (forget the author) who breaks learning FMQ down into small steps, building more complex patterns with the components - first a wavy line, then add circles, then add cat claw, etc. Given my prior quilting experience, and being comfortable researching things on-line, I feel pretty confident that I can move ahead and build up skills with the types of quilting that interests me.

Last edited by QuiltnNan; 01-04-2020 at 01:40 PM. Reason: shouting/all caps
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