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Longarm Learning Curve Frustrations

Longarm Learning Curve Frustrations

Old 10-05-2013, 07:41 PM
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Default Longarm Learning Curve Frustrations

I'm cutting my teeth on a long-arm and it's proving to be a painful process. I'm thinking now i should have played more video games as a child for better hand/eye coordination! I'll get this, I'm sure but it took me 5 hours today to rack and do 3/4 of a twin sized quilt! Thread breaking, tension issues, not centering the top on the rack...you name it, today I screwed it up the first three times I tried. How long does this take to learn? I feel like a total slow-poke. Thankfully I have work projects to finish and practice on. I had to come home and piece on my FW since it's a machine that actually doesn't fight me. LOL. Tomorrow's another go at finishing the twin sized and hopefully get a wall-hanging done. Wish me luck, I'm gonna need it!
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Old 10-05-2013, 08:03 PM
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It does take time to get in the groove of LA quilting. 5 hours is NOT BAD for your first attempt. I took me a 1/2 to load my first quilt. I recently did a twin size (lots of quilting with even more stops and starts in the pattern). It took me over a week to quilt.
For the thread breaking - what thread are you using in the top and bobbin? Make sure the height of the quilt is not too high or low. Not sure what machine you have, but as my quilt gets past the middle, I need to raise the bars so it's not dragging. How about needles - what are you using? Are you cleaning the bobbin area as you change out the bobbins - you'd be surprised how much lint accumulates in a short time. I also change the needle quite often. And, don't go too fast.
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Old 10-05-2013, 08:07 PM
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For thread breaking rise the bars - I find it is better to have the bars a little high than low so there isn't any dragging. Hang in there it takes time and one of these days you will load and quilt and start quilting with ease.
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Old 10-05-2013, 09:05 PM
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Thanks. It's a basic Nolting, no stitch regulator, no computer (what's the fun in that? ). Right now I'm in basic stipples and loops. Good point on raising the rail, I hadn't thought of that. I'm sure there's a sweet spot, I just haven't clicked into it yet. I lock the stitch to begin and then start the machine and it skips right off then the thread breaks. I'm using Coats and Clark mach. quilting thread. Nothing fancy but not anything weird. I just feel so slow. I do brush out the bobbin race and underthroat when I change bobbins and yes, very linty. I'm also a lefty and the machine wants to move left to right while my brain wants to track right to left so I'm constantly remembering not to quilt myself into corners, though sometimes I don't remember soon enough. Lol. I just see people who do this make it look effortless. I make it look like a child's abstract art at this point.
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Old 10-05-2013, 09:24 PM
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You may benefit from looking up tutorials by 'Jamie Wallen' on youtube. He has several and they are very informative. You may like the one where he explains about drawing your free motion designs on paper just to get the feel of it, by getting your hand and brain to work together. This really works. There are also several other videos by other quilters and longarm companies that you may find helpful. Good luck and congratulations on your new longarm.
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Old 10-05-2013, 09:29 PM
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are you pulling the thread to the top at the beginning. i used to have a problem with it tangling and breaking if i forgot to pull it up and hold it as i started. it takes time. be patient with yourself.
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Old 10-06-2013, 02:39 AM
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I have been learning on my long arm for about a year and a year before on a mid arm and I am just now feeling comfy enough to do work for others--and only meander or basic panto. It takes time and practice--don't rush yourself this learning can be fun. I think what helped me the most was not working on a quilt. Get yourself a few sheets from goodwill and a piece of batting and knock yourself out.
For centering your top faster do you have center marks on your leaders? I put marks on all 3 with a sharpie as well as hints to me as to which side of quilt gets pinned to where. This way when I get the center of the top I only have to line them up with the marks. I am a very visual person so if I can see it I can do it
For thread breakage I would switch spools and see if you still have issues. Sometimes no matter who the manufacture of the thread it can be bad.
Try to enjoy your learning curve and show us pix :-)
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Old 10-06-2013, 05:42 AM
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Originally Posted by trivia42 View Post
I'm cutting my teeth on a long-arm and it's proving to be a painful process. I'm thinking now i should have played more video games as a child for better hand/eye coordination! I'll get this, I'm sure but it took me 5 hours today to rack and do 3/4 of a twin sized quilt! Thread breaking, tension issues, not centering the top on the rack...you name it, today I screwed it up the first three times I tried. How long does this take to learn? I feel like a total slow-poke. Thankfully I have work projects to finish and practice on. I had to come home and piece on my FW since it's a machine that actually doesn't fight me. LOL. Tomorrow's another go at finishing the twin sized and hopefully get a wall-hanging done. Wish me luck, I'm gonna need it!
Hi Trivia42, I just got my Handiquilter LA this May and yes there is a learning curve. I have watched every video and read books like crazy since starting. Have found good quality polyester thread ,40 weight, to be strong, pretty and a whole lot less lint. Use the same weight in top as well as in bobbin. When checking bobbin tension , hold thread while in bobbin and it should fall down firmly like a spider on its web . Not too loose though. Then on the outside edges of quilt, practice and adjust tension . I'm still new to some of this but getting better all the time and have found speed not to be a good thing especially if you want pretty work. Good luck and keep practicing.
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Old 10-06-2013, 06:08 AM
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Every machine runs a little bit different depending on the operator. Relax and practice, practice, practice! With practice you will find what works with your machine. Make sure you have the correct needle for your machine and that it is inserted correctly, use a strong thread (most machines do like a poly thread, a cotton wrapped poly or a poly wrapped cotton -my machine prefers A&E Perma Core) A cotton thread just does not have the strength to stand up to the speeds these machines run. Take your time and enjoy the process!!
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Old 10-06-2013, 06:12 AM
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I think after reading all the posts I'm sticking with sending my quilts to my Long arm quilter and not getting one myself!
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