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Renting a long-arm questions

Renting a long-arm questions

Old 05-24-2012, 02:28 AM
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I found out my fabric shop rents a LA for only $8/hour. Any time I have a crazy idea, I try to talk it through with my husband, but he couldn't wrap his head around this one.... So, what do you think?

I have to drive an hour to get there, so I want to make sure it's worth my while!
I love to FMQ on my own sewing machine, but I'd be happy to skip the basting
I usually just buy quilt tops, instead of making them
I haven't used a machine-quilting frame. I tried at home, but couldn't get it on there right, and I had no help with how to do simple things, like change the bobbin. Using the one at the shop sounds like a great way to learn without a heavy investment.
I know it could take years to get good on it, so here's my crazy idea....

What if I used my good backing and batting and top instead of sheets or muslin fabric? However, instead of "real" thread, I just use water-soluble thread? If I quilt it on the LA there with w.s. thread, then bring it home and quilt it for real on my own machine?

The advantages I see to this: I can buy backing and batting there (I do anyway) and I get help loading it on the frame and I don't have to store it at my house until I'm ready to baste. I can quilt it good/bad/ugly and it won't matter, because it will just wash out. I get to learn how to use the expensive LA and decide if I like it or not. I get my quilt "basted" really well so when I start quilting it for real, it shouldn't pucker. I have the perfect quilt to experiment on: it's gigantic and I have almost no money invested in it (top was free and backing was only $1/yard) and the thought of basting it keeps it on the bottom of the pile.

Disadvantages: I believe $8/hour is a very good rate, but it can add up. My plan is ultimately to be able to do several quilts in a morning/afternoon but I know at first I'll be lucky to get one done. So adding $24 to an already expensive quilt seems like a luxury. Especially considering that it won't "finish" it, and I can achieve the same results with a $5 pack of safety pins. I want to count the trip as a disadvantage, but in reality, I go there anyway, I just need to make sure I can reserve the LA when I'm there. If I buy wide backing on the same trip, I won't be able to wash it, and sometimes, that stuff causes my arms to break out. But since it's just on the backing, I should be ok. I'd just have to hope that shrinking ends up ok.

I don't plan on doing it every week, or even every month. Would I even really be able to pick up the skill of LA'ing if I only do it for 4 hours every 2-3 months? I've never used dissolving thread, is it difficult to use? And does it really last until you wash it out (or spill tea on it haha)? Would I be able to press the quilt (no steam, of course) with it?

And last question: Is this even a good idea? It's very early in the morning, so I'm sure there are things I should already know that I'm not thinking of, and things that I don't already know that I need to.
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Old 05-24-2012, 02:55 AM
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I think you should just use the rented longarm to thoroughly baste the quilt for yourself, in regular thread, then take it home and fmq it there, they way you like to do. I do longarming, and you will not get good at it with only occasional practice. Unless you are planning on quilting an allover meander, you will most likely be very disappointed in your results. Most places with a long arm to rent also require you to first take a class in using it--another expense you have not figured in.
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:12 AM
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As someone said, you most likely will be required to take a class on using the LA before being allowed to rent it - so make sure you consider that expense & time as well. Also, some LA machines are very sensitive to different types of thread, so you may not be allowed to use the water soluble. Also, loading your quilt on the frame takes a good bit of time and you may discover that you can only get one done in a 4 hour visit, depending on how big the quilt is.

Since you most likely will have to take a class before using the machine, buy the backing then so you can wash it. If you've washed all the other fabrics, I'd wash the backing if at all possible.
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:16 AM
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IMHO great advice JustABitCrazy. Also I would be concerned about using water soluable thread on the longarm.
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:32 AM
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Originally Posted by JustAbitCrazy View Post
I think you should just use the rented longarm to thoroughly baste the quilt for yourself, in regular thread, then take it home and fmq it there, they way you like to do. I do longarming, and you will not get good at it with only occasional practice. Unless you are planning on quilting an allover meander, you will most likely be very disappointed in your results. Most places with a long arm to rent also require you to first take a class in using it--another expense you have not figured in.
I don't mind taking a class - would welcome it, actually. I would anticipate a charge for that. However, from talking to the sales rep, I get the impression that there is not a class.

I'm sure I would be disappointed with the results, which is why I'd want to wash the quilting away, instead of picking it out.
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:36 AM
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wow...sounds like a lot of work to me...why not just quilt it and gain your experenice that way?
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:40 AM
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I will check with them. I was thinking this kind of thread, which is recommended for LA machines: http://www.superiorthreads.com/shop/...tra-1-500-yds/

I don't think there is a class, but I'll check. I'd be happy to take it. I guess I could keep buying backing for the "next" quilt, and bring it home and wash/press it and take it next time and buy for the "next" quilt, repeat.....

Originally Posted by qbquilts View Post
As someone said, you most likely will be required to take a class on using the LA before being allowed to rent it - so make sure you consider that expense & time as well. Also, some LA machines are very sensitive to different types of thread, so you may not be allowed to use the water soluble. Also, loading your quilt on the frame takes a good bit of time and you may discover that you can only get one done in a 4 hour visit, depending on how big the quilt is.

Since you most likely will have to take a class before using the machine, buy the backing then so you can wash it. If you've washed all the other fabrics, I'd wash the backing if at all possible.
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:41 AM
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Originally Posted by eparys View Post
IMHO great advice JustABitCrazy. Also I would be concerned about using water soluable thread on the longarm.
What would your concerns be?
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:41 AM
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i'm a long-armer and have rented my machine on occassion- i require a 'certification class' which is a 4-hour class & costs $50 then i rent time for $20 an hour! this was how the shop did it when i first learned to use my machine (before purchasing) and that was 8 years ago- i still use her same prices...i live 1400 miles from the shop i bought my machine through.
so---the $8 an hour is a good deal- but it can take an hour just to get loaded - if it's a large quilt-
my machine is very picky about threads- i require you use the threads i have available- and order the colors a customer wants.
if you want to just 'try it out' to see if you like the process you could probably just go in & take the class that teaches you how to use the machine- & see if the process is fun or 'not your cup of tea' i've had customers who after certifying decided they would rather just make their tops & have me quilt them- and i've had other's who enjoy the process & do come in to do their own- i have one lady who tends to quilt very very densly-and i always have to plan ahead when she calls to use the machine- she sometimes ties up my machine for a week or more- and does not mind the hourly rate- spending hundreds of $$ to quilt her own quilt- which would not cost her that much if i did it for her- but she's happy with it...i just have to be caught up & know i won't be able to use my machine for a week or 2. anyway- you have questions to get answered & questions to ask yourself- starting with the beginning class to learn to use it in the first place....when i took my first class i was told you could easily quilt a queen sized quilt in 3-4 hours---i've been quilting for 9 years now- and still have never been able to do that! i spend anywhere from 5-15 hours quilting a quilt on a fairly normal basis.
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:49 AM
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Originally Posted by pamesue View Post
wow...sounds like a lot of work to me...why not just quilt it and gain your experenice that way?
I'm not sure what you mean. I will be quilting it.
I must not have been clear on my OP. I have no experience on LA and I know there is a huge learning curve. I don't want to waste my time on that learning curve by doing practice quilts. I'd like to learn on quilts that will be potentially given as a gift, so I want them all to look it's best. If I use disappearing thread, then I can "ignore" it when I am home, doing the "real" quilting. When I get to the point that my LA quilting actually looks good, I will decide if I want to keep using the dissolving thread or ready to switch to Big-Girl thread!
I hope that makes sense.
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