Long Arm Heaven

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?

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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?)

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But, what did I LOVE about the long arm?  I loved three things about it…

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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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! 

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And, my parents loved it!

DSC_0410Mom with the quilt.

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!

Linking up with Finish it Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts, Link a Finish Friday at Richard and Tanya, and Can I Get a Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

A Little Progress

Wow!  I can’t believe it’s been 3 weeks since I’ve posted.  I’ve been quite busy.

I spent a weekend at the beach with the Triangle Modern Quilt Guild.  I enjoyed a full weekend of sewing and getting to know other quilters.  We all had a great time!  And I did make time for a walk on the beach each day and a little bit of butterfly watching.

IMG_3451Then I spent four days in Connecticut for continuing education.  A weekend working in the garden to clean it up from the summer crop.  Then the Duke/Wake Forest football game last weekend.

IMG_3514In the midst of all that and working, I was able to finish up all 1200+ half-square triangle units.  Phew… that was a huge job!

DSC_0209-001And the pile of trimmings was almost as big.

DSC_0206-001And I’ve made a few blocks already.  These are 15″ blocks so things should move faster from here on out.

DSC_0231-001I also added some crocheted hats to my to-do-list for Christmas gifts.  These will be for a few little boys and will have a few things added to them before they are finished.

DSC_0229-001Last but not least, I promise not to turn into Crazy Cat-Lady, but…

Yesterday, honeyman brought home this sweet little kitty for me.  Oh, how will I ever get anything done now?  When he’s awake, I want to play with him, and when he’s asleep he loves to sleep on my lap or just under by chin.  It’s not real easy to sew with a cat sleeping on you. 

IMG_3523And we’re still trying to name him.  I’m thinking Soloman.  Do you guys have any ideas?  

So, I guess that’s my update for now.  Thankfully, we’re not traveling this weekend, so hopefully I’ll get lots of sewing done after lunch tomorrow — IF I can put the kitty down.  What plans do you have for Thanksgiving?

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.  Psalm 106:1

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

Half Square Triangles

I started cutting and sewing half-square triangles (HST) for the quilt I decided to do for my parents.  I wanted the quilt to have a scrappy look with 10 or so different fabrics in each of the two colors.  But golly, this is a lot of cutting and trimming.

Putting the HSTs together really isn’t that bad.  I’m cutting my fabric so that I can sew and then cut 50 HSTs at one time.  Ironing and trimming to size comes next.  I realize that trimming them to size is probably the most important part, but it is taking forever.  This is what 400+ HST units look like.

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Only 800 more to go…

The embroidery design I’ve been working on for the baby blanket is now looking like this.

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And just because she couldn’t let me have the camera out without taking a picture of her..

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So what are you working on?

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

WIP Wednesday linky