New to Longarm Quilting Post 2

The things we learn as we go eh? What scenario plays out at my house is going to be completely different than what goes on anywhere else. This post is a secondary post to help new longarm quilters with issues they may have.

In my last post I covered quilt scootch and keeping the top true. Today I will discuss some more tidbits that helped me tremendously.

The above quilt was on my longarm about a year ago. I took several videos of how a quilted this beast and uploaded those to youtube. One thing led to another, and this photo is probably my first photo missing one of my belly bars.

Last year for my birthday, my mom and dad purchased red snappers for my leaders. A huge amount of time can be just pining quilt tops and backs to the three bars. The two bars in the picture above both have red snappers installed. It takes me about half as much time to load a quilt. A red snapper is a plastic channel that feeds through the leader cloth which is attached to the bars. Then there are grove pieces that you just push on over the fabrics when loading the backing. The way my frame is different from many of yours, my belly bar that the quilt top is supposed to roll up on would be laying just above the half square triangle edge in the photo. I learned that if I had the red snappers installed on one of the bars, I could not install it on the second belly bar. The bars would come into a bind when progressing the quilt. They would touch. So I stopped attaching my quilt tops to that bar and just floated them from that point on.

A quick note to help trueness when loading a quilt, do it using the burrito method. This works and keeps stuff off the garage floor where I quilt

This got me to thinking, at the time I watched oodles of videos by Natalia Bonner and noticed even though she had a different frame/machine, she did not have this secondary belly bar in view. And then when I started making a few quilting videos, that bar was really in the way of the camera if I had the camera on the tripod making a movie. So I just TOOK THE BAR OFF. I later called the dealer and asked if I took the bar off, if it would hurt anything in my set up. She informed me, she (has the same frame and machine as I have) took her bar off years ago and was glad she did. (I do now question why some machines have this bar below the belly bar. I would find this impossible to get to your bobbin area to change your bobbin??)

That extra bar that I could not use was in the way for the camera. It was in the way for loading the batting. It was in the way for ruler work. So that bar now resides on the floor below the machine. Problem solved. I have never regretted this new and improved set up for me. There are those who would never float a top. I on the other hand found this a shortcut for time. For those of you who earn a living with your machine, this was a huge time saver for me.

Two more things that can help your top stay taught especially when you get to the point there is very little gravity holding the quilt taught when you float.

Here is another quilt quilted before I removed the front belly bar. If you do use the bar and do not float or even if you do float, there are two tools that can help you keep things from getting wonky or to keep stability and trueness when quilting.

One you can purchase the snap on devices that help cinch the quilt top a little tighter.

I have a set of these, and my poles are too big for either size. Downer, these were also a birthday present and I am sick that I cannot use them. If anyone is interested, I can get the info for you if you would like to buy them at a discount.

Anyway, these would certainly help out any of us who longarm quilt. Great invention! But I cannot use it, so to improvise…..go to the hardware store and find long tool magnets. And just install them at points on your belly bar and cinch them to make the job a little tighter. These are relatively inexpensive if you purchase them from the right place. You can buy them from quilt shops and pay an inflated price. Or you can go to the hardware store and get these magnetic tool bars which work great for about 6 dollars.

You can get these from home depot or Harbor Freight. And they work great on the longarm and are very budget friendly from these stores.

And then there is the tip about tension. I cannot tell you about tension on your machine. I know I struggled with this for many months even with the Towa tension gauge.

The way tension works, it is either too loose or too tight.

When your stitches are too loopy on the bottom, it means you need to tighten the top tension. If you basically have lines with the bottom stitches coming to the top that means it is too tight on the top, so loosen on the top.

After playing around with my own stuff and doodling out off to the side of my quilt always checking tension, I figured out it was cheapo batting. That was a downer. When I figured this out, I had two and half rolls of 20 yards each. What was my solution to save time and quit fiddling with my tension so much? I doubled my batting. Yup, that is right. I think this is something the famous quilters like Natalia Bonner and Judy Madsen do not tell you. This gives great texture and it really pops.

For any of you who have played and doodled your quilts to death, it really flattens out standard cotton batting. And this creates a very flat quilt. Doubling your batting is twice as expensive, do what is right for you. This is a time saver for me, and at the price I paid for the cotton Toasty batting, I can afford this. Most of my tension is just a smidge out between bobbins. No ripping of quilting, very little adjustment, win win!

Here is a picture of my first quilt with double batting, wowsa!

This leads me to discuss bobbins. I was buying bobbins from my dealer at $30 for ten, and then I came across the brand Cutex. I could buy a box of 100 for that price. So I tried it out, and by golly they worked. Do not feel compelled to throw money at your hobby for fear of a bobbin not fitting. For longarm quilting machines, most are either L bobbins, or M bobbins. This is a standard. If your dealer says your machine is an L bobbin, you can venture out and try bobbins they may look different than yours but are still L size for a better bargain.

Here is a link for all different prices of M bobbins on Amazon. Way cheaper than the $30 for ten.

If there is something you would like to see as a tutorial on the longarm, just leave a comment and I will do my best to help out this lovely community!

Onto the project side of things. I have my Millefiori quilt book out. I am waiting for the paper pieces to be in the mailbox.

I have some fabrics on the drying rack pressed and ready to be a rosette. I have an old wooden clothes dryer that I picked up from the thrift store. This is a great place to starch and press the fabrics before I can get to them. I have used this method for about 4 years. There are a few occasions that this was a mess more than a help. But those instances will probably not repeat themselves and probably not worth mentioning.

I am looking forward to learning this process called La Passacaglia. You pronounce this will the G being silent. La Passacaglia is defined as “an instrumental musical composition consisting of variations usually on a ground bass in moderately slow triple time

Or…”an old dance performed to a passacaglia

So this new project that will be starting soon is all about the dance of fabrics and the melody in the cogs. That is my definition. I am looking forward to the play and direction of fabric and where it will take me while making these rosettes pictured on the book’s cover.

The migraine is almost gone, that one was a doozy. I will enjoy each day for what it is worth, and hope you enjoyed my post. Thank you for reading my blog!


Scratching That Itch

In Dec of 2019 I started work on the 365 Quilt Block Challenge which is offered yearly by Katherine Kerr. It is a skill builder. Not only do you figure out volume and value, you really get good at piecing those tiny pieces. If I compare my first blocks to my last one I did, there is no comparison. You can definitely tell I am a better piecer because of this challenge.

The 365 Quilt Block Challenge was the PERFECT quilt to work on during the pandemic. And work I did. But I also churned out other projects in the midst, and I am almost back to the 365.

First Blocks:

And some of my latest during my Christmas break:

These are certainly more accurate, and a whole lot more complicated to build, with a nice variety of scrappiness, less loud.

And some of these combined:

I estimated on my goals for the year I would be done with this already. And because this project is for the long haul, I think I got the 7 year itch or something??? I do not know what it is called, but I have this sudden urge throughout its build to do something else.

Let me count the quilts done while I was doing this challenge:

So, in summary, this past year and 4 months, I have made 10 quilts(*disclaimer 3 of these are tiny), plus got 3/4 of the way done with the 365 Quilt Block Challenge.

No wonder I have put the brakes on this lovely project! More on this in a bit….

This week I got two bound, and by golly the migraine thing happened again. So the 3rd of 4 is still on my table.

I have one side done. Three more sides to bind. Amazingly enough, this layer cake I used to make this quilt (church ladies) was an exact match to fabric of 2006 and a line by Eleanor Burns which I acquired in the past couple of years at the thrift store. The pinks, the reds, the oranges, and the blues all match this print, whoa. Shop the stash ladies, you will surprise yourself!

A few years back, I made this:

And I stalled. This is from the Millefiori book by Hammerstein. This pattern in particular is La Passacaglia. These papers I had to cut by hand for the english paper piecing pattern, and it deterred me from progressing. I hate cutting fabric, let alone the paper to construct it. So, it has been a dream of mine for quite sometime. This is an all by hand project. Recently I made this one:

This was hand stitched with the same papers, but again, I did not want to cut out all these papers. So I managed a pot holder out of it. I was scratching that itch.

And when I work the 365 quilt block challenge, I get the urge to do different color! I crave something other than red! I am an adult, and suppose I am spoiling my inner child who is begging for color and fun/whimzy/shifting of gears. So, that being said, I have taken the plunge on my next big project before this one is even done! My logic, I can have one at the sewing machine and one in the hand. On the evenings I am too tired to stand and sew, I can stitch by hand these small shapes and make the Millefiori quilt.

Be looking for posts of this project coming in the next few weeks. I am excited! I hope I have the stamina for this hand project. Any La Passacaglia piecers out there can give any advice at all, I will certainly take it! I feel the need to scratch that itch, I have a dream!

And on a lively note, I have pictures of the kittens! They are getting to the cuttoff date of being kicked outside, but gosh they are so cute!

And how about a video? Their mews are so cute! Not all cats personalities are tolerable to this cat lover. Certain ones will grow on me. One of these tiger stripe babies is so quiet, and not the cry baby like most. A couple of these babies are quite adventurous! Their little personalities are forming, and we are all getting attached to them. The future quilters’ cat(s)!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog!

Helping New Longarm Quilters

The purchase and ownership of a longarm can be quite the experience. You learn what works and what doesn’t. The crash coarse you get from the company is a few hours worth of info that you may or may not retain. I know when I purchased mine, I was totally focused at the front of the machine with free motion quilting, and could careless about what goes on at the back of the machine. Those details were either told to me and discarded, forgotten, or never spoken of. I know not. It is pretty exciting to do those first stitches. Everything else (experience included) comes with time.

There are wonderful videos out there which helped me. Here are two by others. I am sharing because some of this you may not know.

These two videos were a game changer for me! This seems relatively logical, but sometimes we go through life and do things the hard way. Thank goodness for those that think smarter not harder, eh?

So, I am now more proficient in pantos. I shied away from pantos because the thought of trying to align things up perfectly bum-fuzzled me to the point of not wanting to try. And when I did, I scooted the panto all over the back area trying to get it to line up, not knowing that I was fouling up making things way harder.

On the longarm this weekend was my Crazy quilt, using Lori Holt papers, urbanelementz free panto. My machine has been rejecting the last part of the roll of 100% toasty cotton batting that came from Joann’s. So to beat the batting at its own game, I have started doubling the batting to just get rid of it and use it up. Surprisingly, it has created a new nice deep texture and weighted the quilt, like an old quilt.

I had someone ask on my last post if I could share how I manage to keep the quilt from scootching. All my previous quilts scootched to the right. But I have since started ironing. You would think I would iron the quilt before I load it, but I am in a garage, I do not have an ironing board, and the floor is dirty. So ironing for me was basically loading it fresh out of the bag and making the most of the few wrinkles I had. This was the issue all along, that with the fact I float my tops. I think floating the top causes the seam allowances to flip, which would then cause everything to scootch and not be true. Here is me ironing my quilt top. Forgive me and I mis-poke while I was ironing and called it quilting. The quilt did advance correctly, but because I moved the needle and the head of the machine, I got confused.

Here is the actually quilting using the Heatwave free panto from urbanelementz.

And it was a blooper reel kind of day. This took me three tries. First one I rambled and then ran out of thread during quilting. Second the tension messed up and had to rip out. 3rd times a charm.

Here is a link to the free pattern called heatwave by urbanelementz.

And quilter’s, I am shocked at the number of quilt police that are running amuck on social media. I posted about my success with the ironing stage while ON the longarm. I was told I should not do that, the fabric could bleed. I was told by others they make a spray of part fabric softener and water and helps the quilt and quilting of it. I had other comment about customers “b!@tching about spraying said softener on the top”. YIKES. I was successful with something and shared and all the quilt weirdos commented putting their two cents worth in, not knowing the whole. I quilt my own quilts so if they bleed they bleed. But I would think if I ironed while I was making the top with steam it would not bleed then, why would it bleed after the fact. Has anyone actually had this happen? The idea of putting fabric softener on someone else’s quilt would be a no no for me, who would do that? There are so many perfumes in that stuff, but I am not in their shoes, so I am not gonna judge. I will embrace all of the quilting community, each comment was looking out for my best interest I suppose.

If I failed to explain things clearly or you need a translator for because I sound waaaaay too southern, just ask, I did not plan out what I was going to say, I just said what came to mind at the time. I have a sense of humor and laughed when I watched the first video as I sound like such a hick. That’s what I get for living in Texas for 32 years, eh?

I hope this helps longarm quilters after me, we call can use a little bit of help from time to time.

I did finish this, it took me about 3 1/2 hours to quilt this. Pleased with the results.

I chose this panto, because there is so much yellow, orange, and red it it. Reminds me of the color of a flame. Delighted to be almost caught up at the quilting machine. I have one two more left, and have no backing selected. So for another nice quilty day.

Happy first day of spring!

And thanks for reading my blog!

Focused on the Quilting

With Spring, comes better temperatures for quilting in the Garage. And as a direct result, more quilting has happened and is still happening. It has energized my soul and made me feel so good.

I guess I was pouting because with all the cold weather this winter, I could NOT QUILT. I was a bit cranky about it too. I can’t wait until I get a house and move the quilting machine in! Without it being here, it creates a flow issue.

I can piece and piece and piece, and those pile up over the winter. With the nice weather window open, I have been able to quilt three, now all at different stages. One has binding applied and is being stitched down by hand. Two need binding cut and sewn. A flow issue, I can only work one project at my table at a time. So, I have focused on quilting this week.

I got some amazing pictures of my Midnight Alaska quilt. Gosh this thing is pretty!

I quilted this in a panto called “Etched Lace” using black thread. I wish I was keeping this one. I can make another, not sure when, but I do have the pattern and templates. This currently measures 61 1/2 square. Midnight Alaska is SOLD!

Here is a closeup of the center.

Beautiful if I do say so myself!

Ready for binding. I am thinking this would be magnificent in a flanged binding. Not sure yet.

And this week I purchased some pantographs from Urban Elementz. I can’t wait for those to arrive! I will probably purge some of the old stock hand-me-downs I have as they are not that great. The bread and butter of the quilting industry, I have been schooled you choose pantos you can make the most money from. Dense or confusing patterns are not quick and therefore not appealing for the quilter’s timeline. I think I have made some wise decisions. We will see when they arrive.

While I was at, they have freebies. And had a freebie that I was looking for. This is currently printed and now being used. An easy quick pattern with very nice texture!

This is what I am using to quilt the crazy patch quilt top.

Getting as much practice as I can in so maybe I can start taking in some revenue. Anyone out there interested, message me and I will try to work on it after my day job.

Again I have learned something on the longarm. All tops I float. There is a way to keep them square, but for some reason, the tops always seemed to scootch. Using my centering tape and everything, still unsuccessful. Frustrating. And then I tried out my cordless steam iron while everything was loaded on the longarm. This is NIGHT AND DAY for squareness. Holy Cow, what a difference the right tool makes. I am loving the invention of a cordless iron!

Now I will be on the hunt for needles. I can get needles from my longarm vendor. But they have to be shipped to me, and I really do not want to pay for shipping. There is Linda’s Electric Quilters in McKinney Texas. I am needing to make a batting purchase soon, so I bet I make it down there to get both. I am ready for that outing. Ain’t happening right away.

Tomorrow the Vacuum gets out of the shop. My floors are grosser than gross. Gosh children are filthy animals! Ready for filth removal…

In the meantime I will be binding away at the pace I can afford. Life is good!

Thank you for reading my blog!

Scrap Happy March

Here it is already the ides of March. That means it is scrap happy day!

Wanna see what everyone is up to? Click on the links below. I would like to thank Kate from for hosting this every month.

Gun, Eva, Sue, Lynn, Lynda, Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Jon, Hayley, Dawn, Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin, Vera, Nanette, Ann, Nancy, Noreen, Bear, Carol, and me.

Not much production in the sewing department. The tatting department made some progress but not enough to photograph and show. I have two more rosettes to do in the round I am working, and then only one more round to go.

The quilting department has been a bit busy. Last weekend I got this off the frame, and am still in the process of binding. This panel was 108 by 108. The petals are bias that I bloomed after quilting.

The last two weekends I quilted on my scrappy brown ribbon quilt. The quilting is done!

I laid this out on the concrete pad behind the garage. It was around 11:00 a.m. The sun was out but it was pretty cloudy and looked like rain. I am surprised this looks so white, I assume that is the result of the gray concrete it lays upon?

And another is loaded and over halfway done. A view from the back of the machine. I don’t think I have ever taken a photo from behind my machine.

And the view from the front.

And they day is so very lovely. Sunny, temperature in the mid 70s with a light easterly breeze. A perfect day for quilting. But it is also perfect for spring to start showing itself via flowers!

This is a daffodil in the front yard. Interestingly enough I looked back through my previous posts, and this was in full bloom back in on March 15 of 2020. Right on time, in spite of the deep freeze we had back in February.

And during the walk today to the longarm, I walked by an odd tree. It is some sort of magnolia. Sometimes it blooms in February. This year it is blooming in March. This tree blooms its beautiful blooms with narry a leave on it. These blooms make the leaves after the fact. A stick that booms basically!

I have much binding to sew on, and will be working towards finishes. Because these quilts are many and large, it is impossible for my table to be productive. Soon I will get back to the 365 Quilt Block Challenge.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog!

The Message, The Reveal.

First, I will admit I am not done with this quilt. I have the binding sewn to the back and maybe 2 ft hand stitched to the front side. But, because it was such a beautiful sunshiney, warm, dry day, the photo op presented itself, finished or not.

Ta-Da! This is the Opal Dream Big Panel at 108 by 108. This is considered a whole cloth quilt. I accentuated bias around the petals and then brushed the bias to fuzz it. I am pleased as punch how this turned out!

And for the message to my children. There is a petal I decided to quilt like an eyeball. Does not go with this floral design, but there are no rules to art. An example of art, with a textile.

The next two petals with the message are filled with hearts and the letter Us.

I am hoping one day after I am gone and this quilt is used, they will see the message and know how much I love them and every time they snuggle up with this, they will be snuggling up with a part of me.

Below is the part I worried most about. Orangish/golden yellow kind of clashes with the pink bias. But after I brushed it out, it softened the look of it . I am pleasantly surprised. I like it.

I am currently considering sewing a sleeve to the backside of this to enter it in a show. It would be in the whole cloth category. And I have seen some of those quilts done by masters and kind of am not wanting to enter. I mean how many of these are out there in internet land, all quilted differently, but pretty homogenous. I am still thinking about this. Perhaps enter it for show, not for judge. Are there any quilt judges out there? Please chime in, is this different enough to bother? I am certain other quilters would love to see it. These are quilters eye candy.

Today has been a quilting campaign. I am almost done with the brown scrappy quilt from #DebbyBrownQuiltsColorChallenge2021. My camera died so no extra pictures of that yet. I have about 4 more passes. The edge is about 4 inches off my belly bar, so not much left. And if the weather cooperates I may be back at it next weekend.

I have played all day, now I must be responsible and do the laundry and cook supper, *SIGH*. These things never go away. TTFN (ta-ta for now).

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog!

Brushin’ the week away

Saturday, I had the itch to quilt, but it was grocery shopping day. No dice, or was it? I put my mind to it, I WANTED TO QUILT. And Quilting I did! I managed to get the mitten placemat a little warmer. It has batting and is quilted and bound. I did this on my Janome, which I only get out now for mending. I have become rusty using this machine! But a finish, nonetheless!

Sunday, it was a balmy 72 degrees which translates to perfect quilting weather! While I was quilting away in the garage, it poured rain. That was the hardest it has rained in a very long time. Dream Big Opal is off the frame, although not complete. Bare with me here. Dream Big Opal started events that kind of mushed up the week.

While I was quilting this lovely panel in the rain, the hard rain, a thunderstorm passed through. As you all know, the garage I quilt in, is offsite. Part of me wanted to power down the machine and let the storm pass. Even though I have it connected to a high Jules surge protector, it can be a costly mistake. I quilted on. And then I was done.

When I returned home, I found out the fridge stopped working. Said fridge was purchased in Aug of 2009. It only lasted 11 years. A disappointing 11 years. You see within the warranty of this fridge, it stopped working, and we had repair worked done while under warranty. An ice damn would form within the guts of the fridge, and you would have to defrost the fridge usually in the fall and in the late spring. Something that never got fixed. A disappointment. I presume lightening struck during that thunderstorm and found the path of least resistance, the fridge. Just a guess, dunno.

Because groceries had been purchased the previous day, it was a scramble to save the next two weeks worth of food. For whatever reason, the grocery store that we have relied upon for dry ice through the years while defrosting the fridge, had NONE. So that sent us scrambling further to get a fridge a soon as possible.

For those of you who are blessed to have trust worthy appliances during the pandemic, YOU ARE LUCKY! Because of the pandemic, it is slim pickens concerning all appliances, and most things are back ordered for months. Luckily there were a handful of fridges in stock. Did we get what we want? NOPE. Beggars can’t be choosers, so we are now the owner of a new fridge. Hopefully this one will be problem free for years. I am so glad I had the cash to purchase this, because there have been times in my life where I did not. So life is good right?

So Sunday evening, we had all of the normal stuff in the kitchen, plus an extra fridge. The dead fridge finally got hauled off on Friday. But having a 25 cubic foot non-working fridge in the middle of the kitchen was quite the gray elephant in the room.

Oh, and I almost forgot, remember we had torrential rains earlier. To make it easy to move the new fridge into this house, we backed the borrowed truck up in the front yard. Guess what? If you guessed we got stuck in our front yard, you would be correct. I have two large ruts in the yard, the truck sunk, LOL. When it rains, it pours. In this case literally. The neighbor pulled us out with no issue.

As we settled down for the night on Sunday, I started taking a scrub brush to the chennile on the Dream Big Opal quilt. My goodness, I have scrubbed on this quilt all week long, and it is not yet in full bloom.

You know, during the quilting of this, I really doubted what I was doing. I kept thinking, the pink looks garish against the yellows and blues in the quilt. My mind kept over thinking what I was doing, and there was a point I really thought I would remove what I had already stitched. But now, I am SOOOOOOO glad I persevered! Here is a small glimpse. I want to bloom the whole quilt before I bind, and then I will reveal.

Here is the same location on the quilt as previously pictured above. Except bloomed. I have brushed this week away. I will take my time and enjoy all the muscle building I am doing. Imagine scrubbing your bathroom floor with a toothbrush, that is kinda what it is like scrubbing this bias out trying to get it to bloom.

And finally, Monday arrived with a big Ole’ migraine. So, I did not go into work and slept a good part of the day. Glad I stayed home, as mamma kitty had 5 kittens. They are so healthy and cute and she is taking such good care of them. These kitties are quiet, not like the cry babies of past litters.

Tuesday came, and even though my headache was not gone, I trudged on into work. Or I tried, I had a flat tire. I was late, but I made it.

Wednesday, it was beautiful outside when I left work, so I decided to quilt. I got to the garage and realized the idea of a pantograph was not going to happen. I will save that story for another post. So now I am ruler working the brown scrappy quilt top. You know sometimes, when you have a quilting plan, and you deviate that plan, it can lead to an improperly quilted quilt. Yeah, you can ruin a quilt by quilting it with the wrong design. But, I have been doing this long enough now to ease the quilting with the right match.

I am pleased with this so far, and it will not take me long to finish. Quick ruler work, I never thought I would say those words in the same sentence.

A grid within the scrappy neutrals and browns. Orange peels in the snowballed blocks and outer ribbon. A simple zig-zag to line up the tiny HSTs in the outermost border.

Today I quilted some, but it was too cold. I did manage to make a full pass on the machine. The floating quilt top is already off the floor with progress.

I found out last night that a quilt show has been announced in the area in OCTOBER. I CAN HARDLY WAIT. I have been waiting for a quilt show for over a year now. And no, a virtual quilt show is not a quilt show (that is called pinterest to me).

And all this week I have tatted when I could. I failed to finish another full round on the lavender doily. But hey, I can’t do everything. This round is a bigg’un!

I am enjoying this so much. So much so, that I would entertain the idea of remaking this again. But on those long squirrely chains, I would make a SCMR at the first ring which would eliminate the squirrelyness. I will tat on!

What a week! I am looking forward to the weekend. If I accomplish nothing, that is something! Life was a bit fast this week. Glad daylight savings is one more week away.

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