From Domestic To Longarm
So I’ve now got my longarm quilting machine all set up and I’m beaming with confidence and can’t wait to load something onto the frame and get started, I knew not to put an actual quilt top on straight away as there would be a learning curve and besides I didn’t have a top ready anyway so I loaded some fabric I had sitting around and thought I would make a quilt for my dog and get the feel for quilting on a long arm.
Yes its bad haha, thats ok I thought, can’t really expect too much for my first attempt, it was only small, about 1.5 meters square and lets face it my dog Bronco won’t even notice, so I did bind it have kept it for him :)
Ok well it was not good or bad really
Yes I’m kind of getting worse now, I was thinking with all these pink flowers on the sheets its really hard to see what I’m doing, not only that I was aching, my back, legs, shoulders, everything, even my jaw bone, I was hanging on to those handles so tight and I was stiff as a board,, Its because of those pink flowers on the sheets, can’t see what I’m doing thats why I’m struggling, that was my excuse anyway!
I thought also that by practicing on sheets isn’t going to work because I really need to learn how to quilt within blocks, so I made up a quick top with assorted sized blocks and off I went again
Im hanging on to those handles for dear life again
Some of this practice is ok and some is terrible I know and I realised I was going to need a LOT more practice to be anywhere near as good as the ones I see on the internet.
I decided it was time to put a real quilt top on, so I had the week before purchased the AccuQuilt cutter with a few dies, so I made up a small quilt using the 3 1/2″ Tumbler die,, It was also the fist time I used the AccuQuilt and was very happy with how easy it is to use and saves so much time, I was using left over fabric from my rag quilt and wanted wide borders as I wanted Feathers around the whole borders. Oh Feathers
Problem was my border fabric was cream that looks white with these fabrics and Too wide, it looked weird, so I decided to fix that by cutting some wavy strips, some love hearts and appliqué – ing (thats not a word) those smack bang in the centre of the borders
With toes gripped to the floor, jaw in near locked position, shoulders, arms and neck killing me I hung on tight and continued getting more disappointed as I went, thinking to myself to stop and unpick and start again. Why does this thing go so fast ahhhhhh if I go too slow it wants to veer off in a different direction, I need to go Fast and Hang On tight!
Now I have to stick up for myself a bit here because even though my quilting on those tumblers are terribly wonky, I wasn’t trying to make them perfectly straight but I didn’t want them that wonky either, I just wanted a slight curve,, I’m not even going to try and explain those feathers, I just know that I was totally not happy with this at all and its when I first started to think, “what have I done, maybe Im not going to be good at long arm quilting”
Sorry this is not the greatest photo and you can’t really see the quilting but its the only one I’ve taken in full, I have not as yet cut it back and added binding.
After this quilt several weeks went by and I didn’t use the machine at all, at night I would be looking at quilts online and they were all Perfect, absolutely beautiful and I started to wonder how long did it take for all these people to become good?, why am I not improving?, why do I ache so much when I quilt, like seriously my jaw bones hurting, Ive never had jaw pain,, who has jaw pain?
Why can I quilt sitting at a domestic machine better than I can on this when in fact I’ve now quilted more on the long arm, so I should be better on this now than the domestic, ahhhh all these things I was thinking.
A few more weeks went by and I thought I would try again, although this time I went back to sheets, no quilt was going back on the frame at this point, so I watched the “how to load a quilt” video again and I started again
Mmmm so now after this I wasn’t feeling much better, back on the internet looking at other quilts, then these sample pieces, back at other quilts and off went my machine again.
Its a lot harder than I thought and I honestly thought I was going to buy the machine be great at it haha, silly me I know.
What I started doing when looking at all these beautiful quilts online, instead of just drewling over how awesome they were, I actually looked up the quilter, if I seen the quilt on a blog I read their about me page for example. Thats when I realised these awesome quilts were done using a Computer, yes a computer, I don’t have a computer for my machine, oh no, so I’m never going to quilt like the ones I see online.
I do embroidery as a part of my business and they are all computerised, now as much as I love my work and embroidery all I do is design on the computer, send it to the machines, hoop the item to be embroidered, press go and walk away, come back when its either finished, needs colour change or the thread breaks, thats really it. This is not at all what I thought long arm quilting was about, I wanted to guide it, I wanted it to be like drawing/painting with thread, I wanted to look at a quilt and plan exactly what designs I think will work best in different sections/blocks of the quilt, I wanted it to be creative and I wanted to create.
I mean no disrespect at all for those with computerised systems at all, you are so very lucky, they do absolutely perfect quilting and in the future I may also go down that track, the computer for the long arm is nearly as expensive as the long arm itself so that is Very expensive and at this time its just not at all within my budget.
My machine sat for over a month with no attention at all, I run 2 business so I do get very busy at times But when you have a general interest in something, especially when you wanted it so bad, you can always make time, even 1 hour a day. I did have an interest and I did want to be good at it So bad but I made excuses that I was too busy because I thought I would never get better at quilting freehand.
One night I was in bed on the laptop and I came across what changed everything for me and that was Judi Madsen from Green Fairy Quilts, She does Not have a computerised machine and her quilting is Amazing, she has videos where you can see her quilting, no computer. After reading everything about her and looking at all her quilts I watched one of her videos again, then decided to type Longarm Quilting into youtube, well there are Heaps, and I mean Heaps of videos of so many longarmers quilting freehand, I watched videos for days and was literally overcome with excitement, relieved even just knowing that others can do it and do it good so there Will come a time when I will as well but its going to take Practice, all these people had to start somewhere just like I am so Im not going to let my confidence stand in the way, I’m doing this!
Out came my AccuQuilt again and this time I used the die that came with the cutter, on the back there is a pattern for a wall hanger called “Go For It Quilt” now isn’t that an apt name and I was going to do just that, Go For It :)
Im really loving the AccuQuilt, I had all this done in less than 1 hour, I’m just using fabric I already had in my stash.
Pieced and ready to quilt, I hung it on the design wall, made a cuppa and planned what I would quilt, planning done and I loaded it on the frame, yes I still had to watch that how to load a quilt video haha
Guess what? Im Not aching, I’m still clenching my teeth a little but I can say I’m way more relaxed now And my quilting is still not perfect, things are not even, BUT Im Loving it, I’m not worrying about having every point in those squares touch, although it would be good if they did Im doing this freehand, Im learning and I’m not going to compare it to others, Now I’m having fun :)
Im really happy with how it turned out for me as a beginner, my hubby was very impressed he went and made me a hanger just for it and now I have this hanging in my studio :)
You really can’t even notice my wonky quilting at all now that its hanging up and Im not worried because I can always look back at this and will be able to see my progress as time goes by and I now know that I Will progress and long arm quilting is “in me” and Im very excited about the journey I have ahead.
I do have to say though that it was me being too critical, way to critical of myself, comparing my quilting to others, expecting way too much too soon that lead me to leaving the machine turned off, so if there is anyone brand spankin new to long arm quilting out there Please don’t do what I did, love every wonky stitch you do as every one of those will get better over time, and besides, if I had of picked it up straight away and was great at it, where is the challenge in that, I love to be challenged, if it was too easy it becomes boring and not fun and I want this to be long term so it has to be challenging And fun and now it is both :)
The worst part about all this is, Im in several quilting groups and if one of the ladies showed any of the things I have here, even the tumbler quilt feathers, and if they were as new to this as I am I would praise them and I would honestly mean it, so why am I so critical of my own work, I wonder if others are as well or is it just me?
Thats something I would love others to chime in on
So I’m now on a roll and my next post will bring me up to date on where I am now with my quilting :)
Thanks for reading :)