Sunday, August 13, 2006

Quiltin' along and longarm questions

Baby quilt #2 is finished -- binding and label included. Quilting was easy -- although it took about 5 hours to do it -- all in the ditch, including the centers of the pinwheels. I took this picture this afternoon on the front porch and the quilt is now waiting to be washed. I finished it yesterday afternoon.

Today, I quilted Baby quilt #3. The stitching in the ditch was easy, but the rest was a PITA! My freehand quilting, even following a pattern drawn on the quilt, leaves a lot to be desired. I cannot for the life of me control the consistency of the stitches. I am so frustrated by the time I'm finished I actually hate the quilt. I still need to put the binding on, but decided to give it a rest today.

I got a call from a sales person for a longarm dealer yesterday afternoon (because I signed up for the newsletter on their site). She was calling from Park Ridge, near O'Hare airport -- the dealer is in Wisconsin and thought that anyone with an Illinois address should go through this lady I assume -- problem is we probably live closer to the dealer than the sales lady! vbg Anyway -- she was very nice and we talked for a few minutes. She wanted to know what stage I was in (how close to buying a longarm). I told her "dreaming and drooling"! I'm saving my pennies and realistically, I may be able to buy one next year.
But now I have a question or two for all you longarmers out there: Were you quilting a lot and well on your regular sewing machines before you bought your longarm? Did you learn how to quilt on the longarm -- I mean, I keep dreaming about being able to quilt really well on the longarm, but what if I can't quilt on it any better than I do on the sewing machine, or with the Handiquilter -- I will have wasted a whole ton of money. I plan on taking all the classes the dealer offers (and the first two are free, but they also offer some advanced classes I'd be interested in). One of the reasons I think I can do better on the longarm is the stitch regulator -- for me that would be a godsend, I think. Thanks to anyone that answers me!

1. We had tomato/bacon/cheese English muffins for dinner tonight -- fresh garden tomatoes!
2. Even as frustrated as I was today, I still count my blessings that I have a very nice sewing machine to work with.
3. Listening to a whole range of music on cd while quilting today -- Fleetwood Mac, Shania Twain, Eric Clapton, Roy Clark and Neil Diamond!
4. Another beautiful day in the heartland -- but please send a little rain.


debby said...

I've had my Gammill for 6 years and before that I drooled for 5 years or more. I finished some quilts in that time, but I was terrible at machine quilting. The longarm opened up a whole new world for me. Quilting on a HandiQuilter is similar to a quilting on a longarm. As for the stitch regulator, they didn't make them when I bought my machine but I play with it on the HandiQuilter at the LQS. It makes templates and intricate work more accurate.

Good Luck!

Patti said...

They are not the same thing at all. I did a little free motion quilting - and I mean a little. I didn't consider myself in any way proficient at it. Longarming is a whole different world, and the stitch regulator does make a world of difference. As with all things - practice, practice, practice! brings improvement and ultimately close to perfection. (Which I've not even remotely reached yet.)

Mrs. Moody said...

I would gladly let you practice on some of my quilts because I sure don't mind how some of them are quilted. LOL! :) I will more than likely never own a long-arm quilter so I can just dream to see one someday.

Susan said...

I took a machine quilting class with Harriet Hargrave. It looked so easy when she did it, but I could *not* get the hang of pushing and pulling stuff around, and that was on a little piece! When I tried a baby quilt, that settled it.

I bought the longarm and was much happier. It didn't make me perfect, and that was disappointing. =) But in about 6 months, I figured out what it *could* do that I *wanted* to do and had a happy 8 year relationship with it until we came on the road and I sold it.

Now I just send them out. I will not *ever* put myself through the torture of the shortarm quilting.

Mary said...

This baby quilt is very cute - I may have to make a similar one but not 3D - it would be way too much trouble to quilt it.

I've had my longarm for 4 years and I did quilt on my sewing machine before I bought it. I think I felt initially that the longarm was going to make me a better quilter than it has. At this point, I'm fairly decent but know I won't ever be an award winning quilter.

It does take lots of practice and it helps if you are naturally artistic. I'm at the point that if I draw things out on paper enough times I can usually quilt it.

Straight line and ditch quilting aren't that easy on the longarm - in fact I think they are easier on a regular machine with the feed dogs up - so I don't do a lot of them.

Pantographs are easy to quilt and look great on on the type of quilts I usually do - very scrappy.

Passionate Quilter said...

cute baby quilt! I love all the bright pinwheels.

I bought a Handiquilter last Dec. and love it. I was a machine quilter on my regular machine. The only thing is that I still find it a bit scary to do designs like I used to, because it goes a lot faster and you have to think faster! LOL I'm still kind of new at it, but I love it. Again, practice is the key. I do think an advantage of a quilting machine is that you don't have to deal with all the weight of the quilt and moving in and out of the machine. I would say to try to get to one of the bigger quilt shows and really try them out. Or go to a dealer. That's the only way you are going to know if you like it or not.

ForestJane said...

I'd love a longarm too, but just don't have the space for one. I can still drool though!

That pinwheel quilt is so cute, love those colors!

Hanne said...

Very cute pinwheel quilt.

Ama said...

I love the quilt, it looks fantastic. I hate quilting on my short arm machine as well. I am hoping to get Handiquilter or smaller longarm one day in the future... the far far future.

Libby said...

The baby quilt looks great.
I'm in the "would love to have a long arm someday" group, so I can't offer any advice. Have fun testing and deciding what to do.

Finn said...

Well Baby Quilt #2 certain is lovely! And probably you are being too hard on yourself..but it is frustrating..I know. Can't answer any of your questions about the longarm..but it sure is a good thing to think about whether or not you can improve with it.
In the meantime, I know the babies don't mind if it's not professionally done. Hugs, Finn

Judy said...

You have a Handi Quilter..but just the frame right? Not the Hnadiquilter machine itself right? I think even with the stitch regulator there is some getting used to it.

EileenKNY said...

I've had my longarm for almost 6 years and I like not having to move the quilt around. I started without a stitch regulator, but got one a couple of years ago. I use it mainly for stitch in the ditch and template work. I work mostly from the back of the machine and do pantographs.
There is a learning curve no matter what large machine you get.

Pam's Creative Mind said...

Bright and happy, love this 3-D quilt!!

Hedgehog said...

I love your pinwheels. Another thing on my to-do list. I like how your prairie points aren't at the edge. I saw another like that recently.

Evelyn aka Starfishy said...

Gosh - sometimes I wonder about getting some sort of home set-up, but for now, I have a busy 3 year old who needs lots of attention. My time is limited so I would rather spend it piecing instead of trying to learn something new. So, for now, I don't mind sending my tops out to be done. But - I still read all about quilting systems - maybe you should look into a stitch regulator and it might make you much happier with what you already have. You are doing such a great job with it and are doing very beautiful work!