Saturday, February 5, 2011

My Long Arm Quilt Lesson

For my fifteenth annual 30th birthday in November, my family gave me a gift certificate for a lesson in long arm quilting.   I can't even begin to tell you how excited I was to receive such a gift!  

Some years ago I bought a Viking Mega Quilter, which I love but the frame it sits on only allows 4.5" of quilting space - there's not a whole lot you can do in 4.5" of allowed space.  I take that back because I know there are people out there that have the same set up as I do and they've managed to make it work for them.  Sew, the frame sits in one part of the house while the machine sits in another.  You can see where this is going... nowhere!  I still use the Mega Quilter on my dining room table or as a back up machine when my Bernina is being cleaned.   Any way, it was a very expensive lesson to learn.  I should have taken the money and socked it away till I could afford a set up that I would be happier with.

Sew, back to my lesson.  I went after work and saw the most beautiful machine against their back wall.  They could have had an old clunker back there, to me, it would have been beautiful.  They use a zipper system to make it easier to put the quilt on and off.  If your project takes more time than you allowed, you can put it back on the machine without having to measure it all out again.  Brilliant!  My lesson included my very own zipper, two needles and 4 pre-wound bobbins.  

They showed me how to load the quilt, the importance of having everything wound with just the right tension and having it line up correctly on each side, the correct way to baste, etc.  Loading the quilt on the machine and getting it basted is very time consuming but sew worth it in the end.  I've had my quilts quilted by someone that did not take the time to baste correctly and basically threw it on her machine without properly winding it and quite frankly, it showed.

The first part of the lesson I played with stippling, moving the machine around while I stitched and just getting a feel for it.  It moved smoothly but it does take some concentration to keep it under control.  In some ways it wants to move you.  I'm sew used to quilting on my table that I sort of had a feel for various designs and knew what I wanted to do and had a pretty good feel for the machine itself.  

The second part of the lesson I got to use a pantograph.  Wow!  Watching it on TV through the sewing shows and watching the videos, they make it look sew easy.... it's not as easy as it looks!  The first part of my first pantograph was a little choppy.  Everyone tends to square off the curves at the beginning but by the end of the first run your curves start to resemble curves.  

All in all, I had a great time and can't wait to get back to try it again on a couple of tops I have!  I just wish I had some pictures to share.

I do have one, although not quilty.  We had an awful ice storm the other day on top of all the snow we've had this year.  Everyone here is experiencing ice dams and we're expecting at least a 1/2" of rain today 40 degree weather tomorrow and Monday, more snow Tuesday and another sizeable storm on Thursday.  Needless to say, flat roofs and not so flat roofs are collapsing everywhere.  For the past few days people have been up on their roofs with shovels, rakes, and any other tool they can find to get rid of the snow and ice.  My guy went up this morning with a shovel and an ex.  He hates heights to begin with so to send him up on a ladder with ice and snow - not a lot of fun for him.  The only good thing was if he happened to fall, he had over 3' of snow to fall into.  Now there's a comforting thought!

Back to my bindings!  

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