LongArm Quilting Learning Curve

I am loving this longarm quilting- it is such a pleasure to be moving the machine rather than the fabric.  Quilting on a domestic sewing machine is more like writing a letter by moving the paper under a fixed pencil.  With the LongArm, I’m back to moving the pencil, which is going to give me so much more fluency in making stitched designs!

I’m catching up on a backlog of pieced tops-  I’ve always dreaded the quilting part- and now it’s becoming one of my favorite parts!  Here’s what I’ve got on my machine today:

Argyle Blue Rhapsody

Argyle Blue Rhapsody

This is the Argyle Blue Rhapsody.  I’m quilting it mostly in straight lines as I learn to control the machine.  Most of the lines, however, are diagonal, which adds a whole other dimension to controlling the quilting line!

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And here’s a real close-up of the quilting lines:

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You seem some of the water-soluble aqua marking pen-  I was considering small feathers for the solid diamonds, but decided I still needed more practice on my straight lines first.  The print diamonds have a sunburst pattern, and the diamonds with the black argyle line get a diamond crosshatch.  It’s really exciting seeing the three-dimensionality of this quilt come alive!

 

Skinny Nine-Patch

 

I’ve been thinking about another 9-patch design for a while.  Today I got started on it.  As usual, I start with colors first.  I pull fabrics I like together, modifying, adding, rearranging until the colors and patterns are singing to me:

Blog-KHH_0084-750L-201412I like these kind-of odd mustard-y/tangerine-y/citron colors together.  The solids around the perimeter are the ones I am planning on trying with the various prints.  I set myself the challenge of using one solid and one print for each 9-patch.  Here are my first two test patches:

Blog-KHH_0086-750L-201412The ‘Skinny’ part of the title description is the center part of the nine-patch.  The center and the cross pieces are narrower than the 4 corner quadrants.   My next task is to make another 15-20 of these squares in various fabric combos, then put them up on my design wall and start to see how they want to be used together.  All of these squares will end up 4 1/2″ per side.  Do I want them all this size?  Should I make some larger?  or even smaller?  Do I want some squares or rectangles of all one fabric? Shall I introduce some triangle, or even some curves?  This is where the fun comes in with an improv quilt- you take a start idea- in this case, the fabric color selection and the idea of a skinny 9-patch- and start running!

Longarm Quilting Machine

Well, I’ve done it!  I bought a longarm quilting machine after wanting one for about 10 years.  I had to convince myself that quilting was an activity I’d continue to enjoy before plunking down such a large sum.  I bought a Baby Lock Crown Jewel- at a good discount, since it was a floor/demo model.  I’ve never used one before.  The vendor set it up in my studio and walked away, leaving me a short instruction manual.  And I’ve been on a steep learning curve ever since.  I hope my experience can save you time and bewilderment if you are ever in the same position.

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I had it set with the short set of rails because all I have ever made is wall quilts, baby quilts and lap quilts.  I have already learned that the reason I stuck to this size is because otherwise quilting on a domestic sewing machine was so slow, ever for this size, that I didn’t want to tackle a larger quilt.  Quilting on the longarm, even with my current inept-ness, is worlds faster, and I will soon have the shorter rails replaces with the longer ones.

This is my view when I get down to quilting:

Baby Lock Crown Jewel longarm quilting machine

Baby Lock Crown Jewel longarm quilting machine

 

Here are issues I am learning about, and will address in more detail in further posts:

(1) Lighting for longarm quilting (my photo above shows the lop-sided-ness of my current lighting, obviously not ideal!)

(2) The role of Rulers in long-arm quilting

(3) Why the stitch speed is much greater going horizontally than vertically

(4) How to master free motion with this machine.

Ciao

!