Sunday, September 14, 2014

Longarm Lessons

     One of my goals/dreams has been to be able to add longarm quilt pantograph designs and quilting services to my business. Every time I attend a quilt show I drool longingly over the longarm machines. I've even picked out the exact one I hope to someday buy.
     Now, thanks to my amazing neighbor and friend Donna (from Add the Right Touch) I'm taking steps to make my dream come true.  Donna owns Add the Right Touch Quilting and she's teaching me how to quilt on a longarm machine! And I mean teaching me from the ground up....everything from the business, to oiling the machine (it get's oiled every day!) and loading quilts. Not to mention the quilting itself and the computer program behind the machine.
     Donna knows about my plans to one day add quilting services to my business, but she's not concerned about the competition.  She simply wants to pass along her love of the craft. I told you she's amazing. She is willing to share her knowledge and I'm so fortunate to be able to learn from her.
    Here are a few things that I've learned so far.
Longarm Quilting
Quilting on a sunny fall afternoon. #loveit
  • Always cut your batting 6 inches bigger than the quilt top on all sides. I learned this one the hard way. I had my backing big enough...but not the batting. Whoopsie!
  • When doing free motion quilting don't look at the needle. Instead, look ahead of the needle to where your want the stitches to go. This lesson made a huge difference in my quilting. I could see the improvement right away.
  • If you go too fast the thread will break, but if you fmq to slow then your lines are all wobbly. This is my biggest challenge right now, just learning the flow of her machine and figuring out my own speed and rhythm.
  • Be true to yourself. My own quilting style has always involved lots of loops and swirls. They are my favorite. Donna was teaching me a new design that I had never done before, and long story short I got down to the last two rows of the quilt top and was still struggling with this design. You would have thought that I had never quilted before (it was that bad). Then I accidentally got myself stuck in the corner of a block, and I automatically did what I would have done on my domestic machine - I added in a loop and moved along to where I needed to be. Guess what! Adding in that one little loop suddenly made the design work for me. For remainder of the quilt I altered the design to include loops and they were so much better and I was no longer ashamed of the quilting (I'm telling you those first blocks were awful). I still look forward to trying and learning new designs, and I know it takes lots and lots of practice to master a new design. But this was a nice reminder to myself that if a design just isn't working for me then it's okay for me to change it to something that does work for me.

    Longarm Quilting
    This was the design that kept giving me challenges. This is one of the 'better' blocks I did before adding in the loops.

    Longarm Quilting
    Another photo of the design pre-loops.

    Longarm Quilting
    I figured out I could add loops!! This one isn't close to perfect by any means, but it made me happy.
I'm having so much fun learning, and I look forward to each and every lesson. Even vacuuming out the lint is fun just because it's part of the longarm process and I'm wicked excited to finally be working with a longarm.  I'll keep you all updated on my progress.
Longarm Quilting
The finished quilt top

Longarm Quilting
The back. It looks fantastic from this distance.  ;)

Happy Quilting!!
- Kat  :)

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About Me

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Welcome to Calico Cali Designs! I’m Kat, digitizer and sewing enthusiast. I learned how to digitize in 2010 from master digitizer Walter Floriani…it was an amazing experience. Soon instead of spending my time sewing, quilting and stitching out other people’s embroidery designs, I was sewing, quilting and stitching out my own embroidery designs. I created this blog, not only as a place to share my embroidery designs, but also as a place to share all the things I make, sew, paint, embroider, and create. You’ll see posts about my life, my studio, patterns I’ve sewn and products I’ve tested. I hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as I’ve enjoyed creating them. Follow me on twitter . Hugs!! – Kat