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Thread: long arm quilting

  1. #1
    Marjpf's Avatar
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    I just bought a long arm and would like some support. How long does it take to get the hang of this? What sort of pattern is easiest to learn with? Any other advise would be wonderful.

  2. #2
    Power Poster sewnsewer2's Avatar
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    Congrats! I don't own one but have used one. You will get the hang of it quickly.

    I like the meander.

  3. #3
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I just bought one too, and I had the same question. In researching books that might help me learn how to learn to use the longarm, I came across the following quote in Machine Quilting Solutions by Christine Maraccini:

    "The general rule is that it takes one full year to become comfortable and proficient on a longarm."

    Daunting, isn't it? Actually that estimate makes me feel better about practicing. I'm not expected to get up to speed in the first day, week, or month. I have a whole year!

    I've been practicing all kinds of different quilting patterns on a D9P that I made just for practicing. When it's done it will have a little bit of everything, so it will look pretty strange. I'm also going through this site and trying out the fillers that look interesting: http://www.daystyledesigns.com/365project.htm

    I am drooling over quilts that Shelley and Ronda K Beyer have posted recently. I don't expect to reach that level even after the first year. Maybe not even after 100 years.

    What kind of machine did you get, and how are you practicing now?

  4. #4
    Senior Member AnnaF's Avatar
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    Welcome to longarm quilting. It took me about 3 yrs to feel really good about my ability to turn out consistant high quality work. You will find that doing pantographs will make you the most money. You should practice practice and practice some more. Just load up some muslin and work on pantos and free hand designs..over and over until you're happy with your work. Drawing is something else that helps tremendously. Learning how to do feathers is something that takes a lot of drawing and practice. I've spent hours practicing to on paper to get a design down pat then go to the machine and practice some more. You should join the Machine Quilters Professional yahoo group. There is a wealth of experienced longarm quilters available to help you with questions.
    If there is a longarm quilter in your area that offers classes take the time to take some classes..there is nothing better than a private hands on class. I love to teach longarm quilting.
    If you can try to go to some to the national longarm quilting shows...MQX is the one I've been to a number of times and taken classes. I don't know where you live but there are shows all over the country now and it's really worth the money to go. You'll come away inspired by the best of the best.
    If you have any other questions feel free to ask me.
    Anna

  5. #5
    Senior Member quilter girl's Avatar
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    What kind of machines do you lucky ones have.......I'm dreaming

  6. #6
    Super Member Oklahoma Suzie's Avatar
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    I don't have one, but would love one.

  7. #7
    Senior Member crashnquilt's Avatar
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    Well, if you were a bit closer to Missouri, I would love to come help you! I have the HandiQuilter 16 machine and love it. As far as finding books and the like to help, good luck ain't much out there. Linda Taylor does have a good book out.

    I belong to another forum that is geared to machine quilting and it BY FAR has been my best source for help and information.

    http://www.mqresource.com Two types of memberships, free membership and Premier Membership. The premier membership gives you a discount to online classes and access to several videos. Free membership gives you access to all the forums and there are some really good free videos available. I strongly recommend you at least join the free membership and check the site daily. Everyone there is more than willing to help and they are a great bunch of people.

  8. #8
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    crashnquilt, I joined MQResource a few days back but I hadn't really looked around there until I saw your post. The site is a little hard to navigate for the first time, but Oh!My!Gosh!!! The pictures of completed quilting are incredible. Thanks for recommending it.

  9. #9
    Senior Member dojo36's Avatar
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    i bought one also, have had it for about 10 days now. it's a pain in the hind side. i can sure see why it would take at least a year to get comfortable with it. my first practice quilt i threw in the trash, the 2nd one went to my friend's dog and the 3rd one didn't look half bad and the 4th one is on the frame now. my threads keep breaking, i keep adjusting the tension first one way then another trying to get it to look good. i forget to put the pressure foot down - that doesn't look good for sure, lol.
    birds nests! so far i've just been meandering. the machine fell off its rollers and broke the encoder that controls the lizzie stitch that goes frontwards and backwards, new part has been ordered, it will still manual stitch both directions. i was attaching my side bungee cords upside down and just finally realized that today, no wonder i couldn't meander all the way to the side of the top, kept bumping the bungee cords. so i've just had more problems than the average bear, lol. i need HELP for sure.
    donna

  10. #10
    Senior Member dojo36's Avatar
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    one more thing - ya gotta have a master's degree to thread the darn thing. but i'm determined to show this thing who's boss. mine is a tin lizzie 18, what did yall buy and what kind of troubles are you having?
    donna

  11. #11
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dojo36
    i bought one also, have had it for about 10 days now. it's a pain in the hind side. i can sure see why it would take at least a year to get comfortable with it. my first practice quilt i threw in the trash, the 2nd one went to my friend's dog and the 3rd one didn't look half bad and the 4th one is on the frame now. my threads keep breaking, i keep adjusting the tension first one way then another trying to get it to look good. i forget to put the pressure foot down - that doesn't look good for sure, lol.
    birds nests! so far i've just been meandering. the machine fell off its rollers and broke the encoder that controls the lizzie stitch that goes frontwards and backwards, new part has been ordered, it will still manual stitch both directions. i was attaching my side bungee cords upside down and just finally realized that today, no wonder i couldn't meander all the way to the side of the top, kept bumping the bungee cords. so i've just had more problems than the average bear, lol. i need HELP for sure.
    donna
    Wow - 4 quilts in 10 days! Even if you're not happy with them, you have to admit that's some output.

    I bought a 26" Innova with 12' frame. So far the only problems have been with the unskilled operator.

  12. #12
    Senior Member dojo36's Avatar
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    well yes "unskilled operator" on this end too is probably creating a lot of the problems.

  13. #13
    Senior Member luvstoquilt301's Avatar
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    I bought a used HQ16 in March. I loaded 2 practice pieces and then decided to just go for the real thing. I got a huge amount of tops from my guild and just did it.

    I tried a panto once and HATED it. I do not like being at the back of the machine. I bet I have done 50 quilts and am good with an all over design. I just did a custom type doing something in each block.

    I have an excellent beginners DVD that I have outgrown and would sell. Send me a private message. This is for any long arm machine.

    I LOVE my HQ.

  14. #14
    Marjpf's Avatar
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    Thank you so much for all your advice and support. I bought a Tin Lizzie Queen Quilter. I have practiced about an hour a day and am better, but feel a lot more confident knowing this could take a year or more to get good. I bought a couple of yards of good quilting fabric to practice on. No problem setting it up - just followed the video that came with it. My main problem is just getting a feel for the movement. I will look for classes in the area.
    Thank you AnnaF for the drawing idea. I will try that, too.

  15. #15
    Senior Member AnnaF's Avatar
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    Another great learning option is to buy some cheater cloth and practice doing SID, different designs in the blocks, sashing designs, filler stitches etc.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Shelley's Avatar
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    I went through 2 full bolts of muslin the first year, just practicing new techniques. Get the zippers - that way you can just put the practice piece on before you do something new to a quilt. I still have a practice piece ready to go. If batting scraps are short for you, you can sandwich old practice pieces between new ones.

    When you are done with them, they make great beds for pets, so they won't be wasted.

  17. #17
    Marjpf's Avatar
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    Thank you, Shelley. I will look into the zippers.

  18. #18
    Piedmont Quilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaF
    Another great learning option is to buy some cheater cloth and practice doing SID, different designs in the blocks, sashing designs, filler stitches etc.
    That is a great idea for those of us who want to FMQ on our regular machines too!! Thanks for the idea :thumbup:

  19. #19
    Senior Member dojo36's Avatar
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    what are the zippers? i don't know what u mean, pls explain

  20. #20
    Super Member brushandthimble's Avatar
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    one of the best practices is to write the abc's and names

    I like to make circles when changing the bobbin to check tension.

    Congradutations and good luck!

  21. #21
    Senior Member Shelley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dojo36
    what are the zippers? i don't know what u mean, pls explain
    You can put zippers (mine are 144" long) on your longarm. Then you sew or pin or staple your backs onto zippers, then zip the backs onto the zippered leaders.

    I sew all backs onto the zippers, then zip them onto the machine. When I'm done quilting, I can unzip and inspect. If I need to fix something, I can just zip it right back on.

    It also allows me to take off quilts before they are done, and know that when I put them back on they will be right where they were before. I'm not the only one using the machine, so I can't just put a quilt on and show up three days later and expect my partner to be happy with me! This way I (and she) can take the unfinished quilt off the machine so someone else can use it.

  22. #22
    Super Member azam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marjpf
    Thank you so much for all your advice and support. I bought a Tin Lizzie Queen Quilter. I have practiced about an hour a day and am better, but feel a lot more confident knowing this could take a year or more to get good. I bought a couple of yards of good quilting fabric to practice on. No problem setting it up - just followed the video that came with it. My main problem is just getting a feel for the movement. I will look for classes in the area.
    Thank you AnnaF for the drawing idea. I will try that, too.
    You're gonna love your machine. I have the TL 18 LS. Once I got the bugs worked it, it's been fun. You'll get the rhythm just keep practicing.
    A good way to practice freehand motifs is to buy a dry erase board and draw until you feel like you'd be able to do it on the machine. I like using this method because I'm able to erase and start all over until I'm satisfied.

  23. #23
    Piedmont Quilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shelley
    Quote Originally Posted by dojo36
    what are the zippers? i don't know what u mean, pls explain
    You can put zippers (mine are 144" long) on your longarm. Then you sew or pin or staple your backs onto zippers, then zip the backs onto the zippered leaders.

    I sew all backs onto the zippers, then zip them onto the machine. When I'm done quilting, I can unzip and inspect. If I need to fix something, I can just zip it right back on.

    It also allows me to take off quilts before they are done, and know that when I put them back on they will be right where they were before. I'm not the only one using the machine, so I can't just put a quilt on and show up three days later and expect my partner to be happy with me! This way I (and she) can take the unfinished quilt off the machine so someone else can use it.
    Now that's a neat idea. Couldn't you do that with the leaders for hand frames too? Where do you get such long zippers?

  24. #24
    Senior Member Shelley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Piedmont Quilter
    Quote Originally Posted by Shelley
    Quote Originally Posted by dojo36
    what are the zippers? i don't know what u mean, pls explain
    You can put zippers (mine are 144" long) on your longarm. Then you sew or pin or staple your backs onto zippers, then zip the backs onto the zippered leaders.

    I sew all backs onto the zippers, then zip them onto the machine. When I'm done quilting, I can unzip and inspect. If I need to fix something, I can just zip it right back on.

    It also allows me to take off quilts before they are done, and know that when I put them back on they will be right where they were before. I'm not the only one using the machine, so I can't just put a quilt on and show up three days later and expect my partner to be happy with me! This way I (and she) can take the unfinished quilt off the machine so someone else can use it.
    Now that's a neat idea. Couldn't you do that with the leaders for hand frames too? Where do you get such long zippers?
    Ebay - I have one set sewn on the machine leaders, then half a dozen or so extras for backs. I try to prepare several quilts when someone else is on the machine.

    Here's the link to 120". They combine shipping, and he also has postings for longer zippers.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/120-Quilting-Zip...item3c92f893bb

    You can google Longarm Zippers for videos on installing and using zippers.

  25. #25
    Piedmont Quilter's Avatar
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    Thanks for the link. I'm gonna have to study on this some. I think it would work wonderful for loading on a hand frame too!!

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