Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Seeking Long Arm Quilting Advice

She'll be here on Saturday!
Update: that area is supposed to get quite a bit of rain in Friday and we thought it could make carrying the parts and getting it all loaded a bit more difficult so we've moved the pickup to Saturday instead.
No this isn't my machine and frame. Since I don't have her yet, I had to borrow a picture.

I'm heading down to my sister Tina's house Thursday Friday after hubby gets home from work and Friday Saturday morning we are driving to my new toy's current location to load her up and start the journey back to her new home. Tina and I are going to do a little shopping in the Allentown area (I'm going to try really hard to behave since I'm already spending enough this week), we'll have a nice dinner that night to celebrate and I'll make the last bit of drive home the following morning. The mini trip will be heaven because I'm realizing a dream (a lot sooner than I ever imagined) and I'll be getting a tiny break from the kidlets. I love my kids more than life itself but getting away every once in a while is a good thing.

So what have I been doing since making the deal for my new baby? Research and learning of course. I need to figure out how to use this lovely tool. I'm working to find out what accessories I really need versus those that are nice to have and those that are a total waste of money. Which thread(s) to use is the biggest question I'm trying to answer. There are so many options and there is no right one that works for every quilter with this brand of machine. I'd really prefer to not buy a bunch of beautiful thread to find out that it doesn't play nice with my machine.

The other thing I've been looking into is classes, both in person, online and DVDs. Obviously I'm missing out on going to MQX this week to take classes so I want to find some other options. There doesn't seem to be any in person classes near me so online or DVDs may be my better choice.

Books. I love books. Again there are multiple options and knowing which few are the best to get first is difficult to decide.
And then there are the blogs by those that long arm quilt. I've found a couple to add to my reader list but I'm sure there are many, many more that would be great inspiration and full of terrific information. I need to find them.

Recommendations is what I'm looking for from anyone who has a long arm machine and can help guide me to the best choices. Quilters always help quilters so I'm hoping you will again help me get my long arm journey started the best way possible. If you have advice to offer on any or all of these things, please let me know.

*Which online classes or DVDs are the best?
*What books are must haves as I start on this new avenue of my quilting journey?
*Which online sources have the best prices and selection for thread?
*Who have the blogs that are the top places to learn from the masters?

Of course, anything else you want to let me know about would be greatly appreciated. There is so much to learn and I can use all the help that I can get.

6 of you added your own colorful comments:

  1. CONGRATS!!! I am soooo excited for you, Michelle! I started practicing on my longarm with the cone thread at JoAnn Fabrics tha cost $1.99. I think the price now is $2.19. On sale you can sometimes get it for $1. I have had awesome luck with this cheap stuff on my practice that I have been using it on my quilts. Get a cone or two and try it out. It comes in about 15 - 20 colors.

    YouTube is awesome! Just search "longarm". Sometimes I search something specific like "Baptist Fan quilting".

    I didn't buy a lot of rulers or templates right away. The longarm dealer told me to look in my kitchen for things that are round and at least 1/4" thick to use for templates. There are a lot of plates and pan lids that you can use for different sized circles. You can also get pieces of plexiglass cut various sizes at local hardware stores.

    I don't have ANY longarm books yet. Pinterest has tons of longarm and pantograph ideas. Feel free to look me up on Pinterest. Let me know if you can't find me.

    I can't wait to see what longarm blogs you find. I haven't ventured that way yet unless it's a blog I am already following that just happens to be a longarmer. I also haven't taken any classes yet.

    I'm sure you have some old sheets or really ugly fabric that someone has given you. Practice, practice, practice. I'm here if you need me! There's about 100 things to check when your tension is out of whack. I just try to make sure that I am working on the tension on my machine and not adding to my tension. This is supposed to be fun.

    Enjoy your sort time away from the kiddos. I know you will miss each other, but it's fun to have a mini break. OHHHHHHH!!!! I'm just so excited for you! Can you tell by this long long post? YEEEEEAHHHHHH!!!!!!

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  2. SO, so, SO (!) happy for you!!! I will say that the immediate "need" I found in accessories was extra bobbins. For sure. LOL. I actually found the best prices for mine on Ebay. After that, like learning the machine, I learned what I liked/wanted as I went. As far as getting started. I would definitely have a few sheets and some batting hanging around, waiting...LOL. The only other thing I would add is that if you have extra bobbin thread, you can (or I can, LOL) put the bobbin on my domestic and either sew with it (right off the bobbin) or wind it on to a domestic bobbin.

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  3. Thearica from http://pigtalesandquilts.blogspot.com just did an amazing piece on longarm quilting as a guest blogger at http://shecanquilt.blogspot.com/2013/04/thoughts-from-longarmer.html

    She recommended a couple of books that are a necessity and provided lots of other information.

    Enjoy your journey.

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  4. I agree with youtube, that's all I've done, just practice practice practice and then practice some more, we learn every day!

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  5. Extra bobbins, youtube and practice. Patience with yourself and the machine......it's a relationship that will have its ups and downs.....that's normal!!! See if there is a 'forum' out there (Yahoo, etc) or a "chat" type site. Very helpful in "real time". For myself, I can hardly believe it's only been since last November since I brought my Sweet 16 home!! I have come so far/learned so much!! It will be "rocky" at first. The learning curve is steep because......duh! it is a whole new deal BUT you can do it and you'll be even more obsessed by this than you are now!! It's a big group of us......welcome!! Hugs, Doreen

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  6. I have a great book called "Quilt as Desired". It goes over a lot of basics, for domestic and long arms. It has types if quilting in sections, and practice pages you can print and copy, and projects to help you practice.
    Also, I take Craftsy classes. Once you pay, you can view them anytime, anywhere, as many times as you want. You can take notes, type in questions to teachers that get answered by teachers and other students. Post your projects. (Craftsy also has awesome fabric sales!)
    The Craftsy classes I'm taking right now are: Quilting a Big Quilt in Home Machine, Free-Motion Quilting with Wendy Butler Burns, Angela Walter's Machine Quilting Negative Space, Angela also has a Free Motion Feathers class. I also want to add Leah Day's "Free Motion Fillers" and Free-Motion Quilting a Sampler. There is also "Beyond Basic Machine Quilting" by Ann Peterson.
    Angela Walters has a blog all about free-motion quilting: quiltingismytherapy.com

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I enjoy reading each and every comment that you share. And isn't that what it is all about....sharing.