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Thread: Scared of my longarm machine

  1. #1
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    Scared of my longarm machine

    I have a real problem. I am scared to try FMQ. I know how my machine works, how to load the quilt and baste it. I just have no confidence in myself to try it. Instead of jumping in I sit and read the board until I don't have enough time to do it. I just don't know how to make myself try it.
    DonnaR
    Grammy to Isaiah and Ruth

  2. #2
    Senior Member Michellesews's Avatar
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    do some practice pieces until you are more comfortable. Use some pantos to get the feeling of moving the machine down. It takes time and lots of practice! You'll be fine, don't let fear of failure stop you dead in your tracks, or you will never move forward.
    Michelle Guadarrama

  3. #3
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michellesews View Post
    do some practice pieces until you are more comfortable. Use some pantos to get the feeling of moving the machine down. It takes time and lots of practice! You'll be fine, don't let fear of failure stop you dead in your tracks, or you will never move forward.
    Agree, just jump in and do it!!!!! Practice, practice, practice!!! You will love it!!!!

  4. #4
    Super Member OKLAHOMA PEACH's Avatar
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    Try one of your LQS that give lessons, with guidance maybe the fear will be taken away.

  5. #5
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    it's like trying to get to Carnegie Hall...practice, practice, practice. Of course you will not be perfect the first time; none of us were. Settle for trying and improving one project at a time. Stop procrastinating--go quilt! Keep your elbows by your side, keep breathing, and try not to hold tension in your shoulders. You will get better. Ask me how I know!
    Laurie in NYC

  6. #6
    Junior Member hybearn8er's Avatar
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    Don't compare your work to anyone but your self!!!!The biggest problem with newbees is they want their work to look like one of the pros! Accept that your circles might not be round when you start but with practise they will be! When I started free motioning I was the same way.One thing that helped me was that I bought some fabric that was printed to look like a quilt from Marshall 's on line and use it to practice on, way easier as you have different spaces to work with just like on a real quilt. So give your self a break....noone is perfect when they start out!

  7. #7
    Super Member wolph33's Avatar
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    oh just put a yard of a solid color on and play.find out what you like to do.just have fun-do not be afraid.when we got ours we played a lot.then we bound the edges and gave them to our area shelter for cats and dogs.that way we did not feel like we were wasting fabric and batting.critters do not care what the quilting looked like.please go have some fun.
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/Upnorthcrafter

  8. #8
    Super Member jgriinke's Avatar
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    Take some fabric out of your stash. Or, if you can, go to JoAnn's and get LOTS of cheap muslin. Put that on the frame, with batting and quilt away. Just do whatever comes to mind. Now, remember, you won't do it the way you see in your mind. It takes practice. Start with one design. Say, a simple meander, practice that until you feel comfortable, then move on to something else. I quilted many of my first quilts on my frame with just a simple meander.
    Just relax, and remember to breathe!
    Just one more quick thing - if you think what you are quilting doesn't look good - write your name. You will be amazed at how good that looks. Then, think of how many times you have written your name. That proves that practice is the key.
    Have fun with it.

  9. #9
    Super Member soccertxi's Avatar
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    Donna, Just know that you are NOT ALONE! I had upgraded machines twice before I got my gently used Gammill. I have freemotioned before...quilts..DONE...people asking me to quilt for them. And even then, when Lucy came home (that is the Gammill!) I was intimidated. I use the "I can do ANYTHING for 15 mins' rule (a la Flylady. Google her, she is WONDERFUL!) and I quilted some muslin. That muslin was cut up for dog beds. I got to practice and the doggies at the shelter got new beds. We both won! No one saw my 'oops' except the strays..and they aren't talkin'!! lol I DID save one piece from my 1st attempts so I could see how far I had come (and show newbies with machines w/ feeddogs how important it is to put the presser foot down. OH the rats nests!) maybe find a friend to hold your hand. Its nice to have someone who 'speaks' freemotion.
    Beth in AZ
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    Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too can become great. Mark Twain

  10. #10
    Super Member feline fanatic's Avatar
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    I think first you need to pinpoint exactly what it is you are afraid of. I seriously doubt it is the longarm itself. After all you didn't spend the kind of money a LA costs without actually trying one out did you?

    Are you afraid of ruining fabric? Solution: go to thrift store buy some sheets and blankets to use as practice pieces and batting. Small investment and that should eliminate any fear of ruining anything. After all, you more than likely spent many thousands of dollars for your set up, what is $10 or $20 for a couple of old used sheets and a blanket? Loads of practice time on one set of sheets with a blanket in between for batting.

    Are the expectations you set for yourself way too high and thereby making you afraid of failure? Well the only way to get over that is to do the above. I think it is safe to say every single LA quilter out there who does handguided (not a computer set up) started out making squarecles instead of circles, feathers that looked like they were from some mutant alternate universe or jumped out of a Salvador Dali painting and flowers that looked like a toddler's first attempt to draw with a crayon.

    Are you afraid you have wasted a truckload of money because you will never be any good at this? Again, you will never know unless you start and if it doesn't work out for you, you can always sell it. But you have to try. Nobody is ever good at anything the first time they try it. You had to crawl before you walked. You had to learn to wobbly walk before you could run. And you fell down a few times during the whole process. Same with riding a bike, same with learning to write, same with everything. It takes a lot of tries and practice before it becomes 2nd nature.

    Quit comparing yourself to others, turn off the computer and go to your LA and load a practice sandwich. Make loops squarecles, quilt your name in cursive, write out the alphabet in quilting. Who cares if your P looks like a Q or your M's look like deformed camel humps. Keep trying.

    I went out and bought a bunch of pads of cheap newsprint paper. The biggest ones I could find like 14" x 17" and bigger. Got myself a bunch of pencils and doodled, doodled, doodled. I wanted to be good at feathers so I drew feathers over and over and over again until I could do them in any direction and I was happy with my drawings. Amazing how much muscle memory took over, it was like signing my own name. Doodle and draw whenever you are sitting idle, like watching TV or talking on the phone. Pretty soon you will be able to transfer those doodle drawings to the LA.

    Seems such a waste to be so blessed as to be able to afford to have one and not even try to use it.

  11. #11
    Super Member Lisa_wanna_b_quilter's Avatar
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    All of the above sounds like good advice. I agree with the "don't compare yourself to professionals". Quilters are too hard on themselves. We don't refuse to drive a car because we are not as good as movie stunt drivers. We don't refuse to paddle around a pool because Michael Phelps is better at it than we are. Racheal Ray may be a better cook than we are but we still feed our families. So why do we refuse to try FMQ just because others will be better at it than we are?

  12. #12
    Senior Member Toni C's Avatar
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    May I make a suggestion? While you practice on your muslin put one color thread on top and one on bottom. That way you know what both are doing if you need to tweak the tension. If you can't find or have any cheap panels and you want to practice 'a quilt' draw 'blocks' on your muslin. You can even use the wash out markers and later wash them. YOU RE NOT ALONE! There are some out there that had their longarms set up for years before they pulled their big girl panties up and tried. You will not break it. Get a dry eraser board and 'pratice' your designs in your head. This builds muscle memory (like writing your name) What machine do you have? Play and practice, shoulders down, light hand, breath. Once you get some time in you will be fine. just don't do what I tend to do and overdo it where I'm so darn sore later. I get so wrapped up in it I forget to take breaks until a body part starts screaming LOL

  13. #13
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    practice is the key, I know. I'm not a long-armer, but what would happen if you put a large sandwich at the beginning of the quilt to use for practice before you get to the quilt itself. I know that the places I've seen attach the sandwich to be quilted directly to the leaders so they just jump into the job. How about adding a two foot attachment of sandwich at the beginning of the quilt with basting stitches on which to practice before going onto the quilt itself....then cut off the practice and use it for a dog bed, donation whole cloth quilt, etc.? Would that give you the practice immediately before the real thing to give you confidence?
    Kate

  14. #14
    Super Member wraez's Avatar
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    When my friend got her long arm she started practicing by buying quilt tops on ebay or thrift shops ... some of the areas of the quilt she wrote her name over and over, another section she did loop de loops, and on and on till it was done. Was it pretty, no not really but she had lots of fun, playing, practicing and learning how she and the machine worked together. When it was done the quilts turned into dog beds. Now she is an accomplished quilter!

    So do as someone else suggested, just put some sandwiched muslin on your machine and have fun quilting.

    Truthfully, I wish I had a long arm machine, but I want to quilt on it (after having played on my friends several years ago, boy that was fun) BUT doing the setup is what hinders me from even thinking about getting one, LOL... you have already got that down. Hey invite me over and we can play together! Oh dang you live too far away!
    Warm quilt hugs, Sue in CA
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  15. #15
    Super Member 0tis's Avatar
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    You are not alone - trust me - I had mine for about 6 months before I truly used it - I could not tell you why - because I think it was all of the above. I was completely new to this - I had never even heard of a longarm until a few weeks before I got one and I had never used one. My husband talked me into it - and I am so glad now. But for the first several months I would load it up and just freeze when it was time to quilt - I know that I will never be a pro at fmq - but I have improved - what really helped me was groovy boards - I purchased a few of them and it really made the quilting easy and it looked good. After I was comfortable with that - I slowly started making loop de loops and trying different quilt desigsn (they did not look good at all) but I was trying at least....Finally, I found Craftsy and there was a class called Quilting Negative Space with Angela Walters - that was finally my AHA moment - what she taught me in a few hours has increased my confidence by 1000% - this is about 2yrs after I purchased my longarm - I have accepted that I am not a Picasso but I do like what I can do now. So you need to find what works for you. I suggest the Craftsy class with Angela - it was amazing. Congrats on your purchase - can't wait to see what it brings next.

  16. #16
    Super Member newbee3's Avatar
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    just load it and jump

  17. #17
    Junior Member An Arm Long's Avatar
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    Practicing with muslin is the way I did it. I drew designs on it and tried to follow them and then also made large squares and circles and then tried to fill them with free motion meandering. I also drew lines the width of the fabric and then practiced doing C's and S's for the whole width of fabric. That s curve is used in alot of patterns as is the c. If following a pattern try not to look at the needle but ahead of where you are sewing or at a larger part of the pattern as you sew.
    Freehand large circles are hard as are straight diagonal lines so don't worry about getting them right at first.
    Practicing will also give you a chance to work on tension as you go. And most of all, don't grip the handles hard. Try to relax and use just fingers to move the machine.
    Beth in Maryland

  18. #18
    Super Member MaryMo's Avatar
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    and when you get done with your practice piece, trim it up and donate it to a dog shelter. Dogs love their special quilts! and you will feel like you've done something worthwhile. Good luck to you .... each of us has had to overcome small blocks to get there.
    Make it a scrappy happy day!

  19. #19
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    Just do something! Load a practice piece - something that DOES NOT MATTER TO YOU, and go to town so you get the feel of the machine. It won't matter if you mess up or not. My first two actual projects on my HQ were child quilts for community service. They were far from great but a child in hospital will not judge me for stitchen not being perfect.

    There are also some great classes on craftsy, and you can get videos on youtube. Happy quilting!
    Martina
    Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric!

  20. #20
    Super Member newbee3's Avatar
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    just got my used longarm i have to wait to really use it since i had shoulder surgery on the 1-3 getting real anxios i have played some using my lefty it is noy easy but it is fun

  21. #21
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    I just bought my longarm this morning. It will be delivered Thursday and I have my first class Friday. I suppose it will focus on loading the quilt etc, but she did say my homework would be stippling. I was never able to master stippling on my DSM, but I'm cautiously optimistic about doing it on my longarm.

    It feels funny to say "my longarm". I still can't believe I got one!

  22. #22
    Senior Member cedarvalleyquilts's Avatar
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    As my husband Kevin the quilter would say "it's just a sewing machine"..don't let it intimidate you Get out those old sheets, thrift store fabric finds, etc., and practice the designs you have been drooling over. Everything takes practice and it WILL get easier the more you play with it. Promise

    Christine

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolph33 View Post
    oh just put a yard of a solid color on and play.find out what you like to do.just have fun-do not be afraid.when we got ours we played a lot.then we bound the edges and gave them to our area shelter for cats and dogs.that way we did not feel like we were wasting fabric and batting.critters do not care what the quilting looked like.please go have some fun.
    Great Idea for your practice pieces! hadn't thought of that and yet I save all my unusable scraps for the pillow case dog beds.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nilla View Post
    I just bought my longarm this morning. It will be delivered Thursday and I have my first class Friday. I suppose it will focus on loading the quilt etc, but she did say my homework would be stippling. I was never able to master stippling on my DSM, but I'm cautiously optimistic about doing it on my longarm.

    It feels funny to say "my longarm". I still can't believe I got one!
    congratulations, you will have so much fun.

  25. #25
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    My first quilt teacher brought in her first quilt and one of her newer ones. There was quite a difference between the two....she said "Just do it" and keep on making quilts. Before you know it, you find yourself improving! Often times I have done FMQ and not being sure it was going well. Then when I take the quilt off the frame, it looks darn good.
    Just remember to breathe as you quilt

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