Well, I did it! There were a few bumps and uncertainties, but I got through quilting my first quilt on a longarm. Pretty happy with how it turned out, too.
I rented time on my friend Grier’s machine – she has a home business. Here is the backing, loaded on to the machine and waiting for the next stage. This machine uses a zipper to attach the backing to the roller, which makes it pretty easy to line up the centres – or even be able to take the quilt out part way through quilting, then be able to zip it back in again. My backing fabric was a red flannel.
Next, Grier helped me load the quilt top and batting. She suggested just letting it “float” rather than putting it on the other set of rollers. That seemed to work alright. I don’t have the experience to say whether loading it on the roller would have been better. I guess it would keep the quilt top taut – but what I did was just channel lock along the sides as we advanced the quilt in the frame, and that seemed to do the trick. Mostly. There was a little pucker on one edge – I don’t know if that was because my quilt wasn’t square enough, or because it wasn’t taut enough (?). But it wasn’t serious, and disappeared when I picked out the channel locked stitches afterward. So here’s the top, waiting for me to get started.
I really want to use the longarm for freehand work. In my opinion, if I am just going to use a pantograph, it’s just as easy to pay someone to do that for me. The point of longarm, for me, would be able to do more interesting and customized work on my quilts.
For this first piece, my goal was simply to get comfortable working on the long arm. I decided to do an easy pattern of loops, worked across the quilt from side to side. Here’s the bottom of the quilt. I think the quilting is most noticeable on the black border, so I wanted to capture that.
Also, I tried a 50/50 bamboo/cotton batting that Grier had available. It worked well. Again, it was my first quilt, so hard to say if I liked quilted with it better than I would have if I’d used Hobbs 80/20.
Did I mention that Grier has two dogs? Trooper and Rosie kept me company while I quilted. Since I have two dogs myself, I felt right at home with them at my feet!
And here’s my quilt back at home, waiting for the binding.
I started this quilt about 6 years ago, but procrastinated about it for so long! Feels great to finally be able to cross it off the UFO list, and to even have longarmed it myself.
There are still almost three weeks left in 2016, and I feel confident that I can cross off a few more things on my UFO list before the end of the year. That will leave me in a really great position for 2017, and I already have some resolutions about what I hope to complete next year. So watch for my post about my 2017 quilting goal list!