I’ve been trying to write this post for about 2 weeks now. Actually, that’s better than I thought… I thought I was 3 weeks behind, so being only 2 weeks behind makes me feel somewhat better.
I had the opportunity to use a long arm right before Christmas, and… I FELL IN LOVE! IMMEDIATELY! How did this happen?
I made my parents a queen size quilt for Christmas, and there was no way I was going to be able to quilt it on my home machine with it’s 7″ throat. Quilting a lap quilt is hard enough… there is no way I was going to be able to quilt a queen. And seeing as how I was still piecing it together 4 days before Christmas, I wasn’t going to be able to hire someone to quilt it for me either. (No, I don’t wait until the last minute! What ever gave you that idea???) So, I had to come up with another plan…
One of my local quilt shops has classes for long arms, and once you take their class you are able to rent their long-arm by the hour. So my plan was to take the class and free-motion the quilt all the week before Christmas. As if getting ready for the holidays isn’t stressful enough…
So, 8 days before Christmas I take the long arm class and have about an hour to practice, 4 days before Christmas I’m still piecing and pinning, 3 days before Christmas & Christmas Eve daytime I’m on the long-arm, Christmas Eve evening I’m putting the binding on, and… Walla! The quilt is done! (I made that sound so easy, didn’t I?)
But, what did I LOVE about the long arm? I loved three things about it…
- I love how it gives you such a large area to work with. Instead of having a small 8″ x 8″ or so area that I could quilt before having to ‘rearrange’ a huge pile of fabric on my lap and desk, I had a huge approx. 24″ x 96″ area to quilt. And then to move to a new section — just undo a couple of gears and ROLL the quilt up a few feet. It’s so easy!
- I love how it keeps all layers of the quilt taut and together, WITHOUT pins! Oh my gosh — NO PINS! I didn’t have to stop and remove a pin every 30 seconds, or try to scooch past it and end up hitting it anyway. And even though the top and bottom edges of the quilt have to be pinned to the machine (this quilt shop uses zippers to attach it to the machine), pinning the quilt to the machine is somewhat faster than pinning a quilt all-over.
- I love how it’s so much easier and smoother to free motion quilt. Free motion quilting on my home machine is like trying to write while holding the pencil still and moving the paper underneath. How is that even doable? But quilting on the long is similar to writing — you move the pencil (machine) over the paper (quilt), so it’s a more natural movement.
These 3 things add up to HUGE time savings. I quilted a queen size quilt in less than 5 hours! (not includng pinning) Can you believe it? Granted, the quilting isn’t dense, and I didn’t do any fancy designs. I did an overall meandering loop-d-loop design. But it would have taken me probably 3 times that long on my home machine. It seriously took me less than 5 minutes to realize that a long arm is the way to go. As if I didn’t want one already, I want one even more now. And I didn’t even get a chance to use the Phaff with all the built-in designs… I can only imagine that that one is even more fun!
And, my parents loved it!
Up to now, I have made mostly baby and lap quilts. But now that I have experienced the long-arm, I see more large quilts in my future. Oh, I can’t wait. But no more half-square triangles… NEVER AGAIN!