Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Adventures in Long Arm Quilting

When we first moved into our current house, I scoffed at the fact that it had an automatic garage door opener. My contention was that I'd lived my entire life without this superfluous bit of technology and I didn't think I needed it now. I was wrong. A fact that became incredibly apparent to me the first time it poured down rain and I didn't have to get drenched in the process of opening the garage.
Well, I'm here to eat a bit of humble pie as regards long arm quilting machines. I can't tell you how many times I went to Quilt Festival and laughed at the vendors selling these machines. "Why on earth would you need this machine?" I argued. I can quilt anything on my trusty sewing machine. Sure it might take me a little longer and maybe it will be a little more cumbersome, but the net effect is the same, right? Wrong.
Over the past 3 days, I have machine quilted 2 very large quilts on a rented long arm machine and I can proudly proclaim that I'm a different person. It's like that scene in the Ten Commandments where Charleton Heston/Moses descends the mountain after his encounter with the burning bush and his face has completely changed. I am a new woman. A new long arm machine loving woman.


Although both quilts took me about 5 hours a piece to quilt, that is a fraction of the time they would have taken on a standard sewing machine.


Add to that the fact that there is no basting involved. No moving furniture so that I can attempt to smoothly layout the backing and batting and then spend the next three hours scooting around on my bottom basting the quilt.


And the piece de resistance, no puckering in back. As long as you carefully wind the backing on to the machine, you will have a perfectly smooth back.
This is, without a doubt, the greatest thing since sliced bread and way cooler than the garage door opener.

40 comments:

Michaela said...

Oh my, those quilts looks fabulous!
I can't say anything about quilting. I can't do free motion on my machine, yet. I take my quilts to trusted long arm quilter and pay, but I think it is wort it.
Great job!

Alissa said...

Oh how I long to be a woman who knows the ways of the long arm... just like you! Hearing you say this makes realize that it's time for me to take the step of tracking down the closest rent-able long arm machine. Your quilts look AMAZING - I can't wait to see the final reveal of the circles one...

Tif said...

aahhh, i keep telling myself "ONE DAY!" i will have a long arm residing here in our home...i tried out one at a quilt show and wow wow wow!

but, really, your quilts are so beautiful...quilted both ways...

Amber said...

Yep - I recently had the privilege of using a friend's long arm and the difference is unbelievable! The quilts looks absolutely amazing!!

Frogdancer said...

I'm bewildered. I've never seen a long arm, but it sounds like it does the basting for you as it quilts???? Is this possible? That'd cut an hour or so off the time taken to make a quilt right there.
Sounds intriguing...

The Jen said...

I get to test drive a long-arm over the Christmas break. I can't wait to "see how the other half lives"!!!

susan said...

i was pondering how long i have owned my little gammil premeir, it has been 19 years i was told by gammil when i sent it down for its first and only servicing. i would like to take some long arm classes, am totally self taught but since i now live on the continent i can visit long arm quilters and see how they do things and maybe learn a trick here and there. i think an ideal machine would be the premier WITH needle up/down and stitch regulator. mine is totally striped down model, one of first twenty they built but i love it. i did have the laser pointer installed but that was all i could afford. they now make all kinds of gadgets for the premeir (its an 18/8) and a good value for the dollar. just my 2cents. but you need space...i have mine now in the basement. i have to quilt libby's 21st birthday quilt before we leave sat. a.m. the quilt looks great by the way! i know...i have a garage opener for the first time and i love it...

Sandy said...

I can't wait to see the reveal of the circles either! The suspense!

lusummers said...

my mum was the sixth person in the uk to get a longarm machine about 7years ago when she and i had a quilt shop - it's now in her workroom at home and she's a bloody genius on it...i love using it too, but to watch her is poetry in motion. i'm loving your work by the way - your eye for colour and texture is really exciting :) x

Kim said...

Gorgeous! Yeah, it's awesome, isn't it? Before you know it you'll be shopping for your own machine!

Andi said...

The quilts are gorgeous. The quilting looks amazing.
Very jealous!!
Andi :-)

Lynn said...

Wow. Awesome. The no basting part hadn't even occurred to me!

2ndAvenueStudio-Rachel said...

welcome to the sisterhood! I quilted a baby quilt on a sewing machine- and decided "never again"
I rented and then I bought a mid arm
HQ16.
I love love love it.

gwensmom said...

I love what you did in the circles! So will you be using your Twinkle Quilt money for a long arm?

Mulberry Tart said...

I love my long arm! It is great for those large quilts. I have a mid arm for small to medium. They are great and once you go bigger you never go back!!!
I love your stripped fabric. I can't wait to get some.

the Campfollower said...

OK...I want to try a long arm too! I have been curious for ages, but now I REALLY want to do it! Awesome quilts by the way!

TaraJ said...

Isn't it just WONDERFUL??? I have a 17" Nolting, which is technically a mid-arm, but still, the whole system of moving the machine on a frame is the best thing ever!

Christina said...

This is looking gorgeous. I am now jealous of not only your talent, but your machinery as well!!

tpanderson said...

Right, no one understands how much of a pain it is to quilt on a regular sewing machine. I can piece it pretty quickly but my family doesn't understand why I bog down after that and why it takes so long to get a quilt completely finished. Especially if it is any bigger than 5 feet! I have considered sending them out but I want to do it all myself and don't want to spend the extra money. Is it a lot more cost effective to rent time on one, compared to having someone quilt it for you? I've only been quilting for one year, but already I know I will want at least a mid arm one day.

alisonb said...

ooooh! aaaah! Beautiful! what an inspiration you are, thank you. I am now dreaming of what a novice could doooooooooo.......! A long way to go though!!!!

Cicada Studio said...

You make a compelling argument and I don't even quilt!

Morah said...

I have to agree. Quilting on the longarm is quick, effective and still satisfying creatively.

amandajean said...

your quilts look amazing!!! so are you going to buy a long arm??? I'm still in the "I can quilt it myself on my home sewing machine" camp. (I'm afraid to cross over into the other camp.)

Malka Dubrawsky said...

Thanks everyone for all your nice comments.
I don't think I'm going to buy a long arm anytime soon because I don't really have space for it and the lady I rent from only charges $13 an hour, so I can't really justify it as a cost savings.

Cindra said...

Your photos are fabulous and the quilts.... uhmmmmmm ... yummy!

What does it cost to rent one of those machines?

Cara said...

I love how you quilted the twinkle quilt.

bothhandsknit said...

your quilt looks beautiful!

jacquie said...

i may have to see if i can find one to try locally....you're inspiring me. (are you feeling the weight of the responsibility?)lol

Laura Jane said...

How freakin amazing is the quilting jopb you have done on that Twinkle quilt!

I literally felt a squirt of drool.

Incredible, just lustingly incredible.

sugarcreekstuff said...

I'm lucky I get to use my Moms LA machine. I can never go back.

Lasso the Moon said...

Ooh. So jealous. My aunt has one, but she lives to far away to borrow! Congratulations on finishing this! I can't wait to see the whole thing. Oh, and your magazine cover...my favorite magazine ever, and it looks delicious!
Anna

sally said...

The circle quilt looks really neat.

schnoobie said...

YEAY for you! They look AWESOME!
I bought "your magazine" today too..
To all "Longarm Curious"
Longarm quilting is truly the way to go for the big ones ( and if you are in the habit of making a lot of small sized ones too.) The one drawback I seem to be having however is that I cant get anything of my own done!!!!( doing customer quilts on my APQS Millennium) APQS is now making a smaller STITCH REGULATED model called "lennie" that is affordable and easy to take down and store if you must.Also nice with APQS is that you can later upgrade to larger machine with more features. There are also great deals on pre-owned models .Renting time is a great way to find out which brand suits you too.
Don't be shy next time you are at a quilt show and they have booths to test drive......no garage door opener here....my garage is now my quilting studio...priorities ya know?;)

Sewing Geek said...

OH, I am so like you! I used to scoff at that long arm machine, why not just make it in a factory? But after machine quilting (btw, when I began quilting, only hand quilting was acceptable!) a few small quilts on my sewing machine, I also can see the beauty of the long arm. Your work is just beautiful.

Sabii Wabii said...

I felt that way the day I discovered the glue gun....I have been chomping at the bit to try one of these!
Terisa

Izzy Herriette &; Co said...

WOW! I'm not a part of the quilting world. I am so impressed and curious about all of the fabric designers out there. Year ago, I dabbled in dying, a little quilting, drawings,etc; painting, doll-making and sold in a local shop. Your fabric design just has me spellbound - it's the same style as some cards I experimented with last year - just dye on very light paper. But your patterns, blends of color and design are absolutely knock-out, unique and oh, so tasteful! FUN! I wish I could come and mentor under you. I used to work with a designer in Florida, where we died the t-shirts and did all sorts of original designs atop the die. I have designed drawings of fabrics that I wanted to make bedding with for myself. Is it possible to do such a thing without schooling? I watched your entire flicker show. AMAZING! Is all the fabric your own?

Evelyn aka Starfishy said...

GREAT job!! I need to try that one day!!! I always send mine out and then people tell me - oh, but you don't quilt them. Well, true, but many of my quilts take hours upon hours to piece, but still... somehow I still feel like my work is being discounted because I didn't actually do the quilting.
Cheers! Evelyn

Faye said...

beautiful! how much did it cost to rent the long arm??

great job

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Cristin said...

Great job! I'd DIE to own (or even rent) a long arm machine! Maybe someday.. sigh..