Thursday, June 28, 2012

Adventures in Longarm Quilting

I mentioned a couple of months ago that I'd met Renae Allen when I bought some of her Skill Builder Series.  I also saw her at HMQS and got to chat for a couple of minutes.  She is one of the nicest people you could ever meet.  Well, last week she called me up out of the blue to let me know that Teryl Loy was running some sort of a special right now on Innova longarms.  At HMQS I had narrowed down my longarm choices to APQS and Innova, and had pretty much decided on the APQS, but would have been thrilled with either one.  I was only able to use each machine for 15 minutes or so at the show, which was really nice, but I wanted some more experience.  I asked Renae if she'd  be willing to let me do a quilt on her Innova to get a better feel for it, and she said yes!  Renae is a fabulous free-motion quilter, and does a lot of her quilts on a domestic sewing machine (even beautiful feathers!  on a DSM!) but she does some lovely longarming too. 

She lives about 40 minutes away from me (30 from my in-laws who watched the kids for me) so I went up yesterday to do some quilting.  I ended up getting a private lesson on some tips and tricks about loading the quilt that I didn't know before---little stuff that will make the whole process easier and more accurate.  She also taught me how to use rulers and templates.  I don't own any rulers yet so I hadn't tried them.  Longarm rulers are much thicker than rotary cutting rulers for safety reasons, so I can't just use rulers I already have.

I am much taller than Renae, so I did almost all of my quilting sitting on a barstool.  I was actually barely shorter than her sitting on it....  I do a fair amount of my quilting sitting anyway because we haven't raised my frame yet.  It works well except that I have to move my chair often.  Maybe I'll get a drafter's chair with wheels.
 I had marked the design on the borders before I went with overlapping half-oval shapes.  A combination of this curved ruler and a circle for the ends worked really well.  It was SO MUCH EASIER than trying to free-hand.  I thought I'd be able to follow my lines with no problems.  Wrong.  It was very difficult to do.  I need some rulers.
 I did some squares in the inner border, and free-hand loops in the center.  I used a right-angle ruler for the squares, and it was really easy after a minute of getting the hang of it.  FYI--I did remove all the markings.
 It was so much fun!!!  I want an Innova!  I'm sure I would be happy with an APQS, but there was absolutely nothing about the Innova that I didn't like.  It is a fabulous machine.  Now I just have to wait until I can get my own.  Even though they do have a special right now, I still need to wait a while.  The stitch regulator on the APQS beeps as a safety feature, which is one thing I know I wouldn't like.  Annoying.  So I think I've decided on Innova!
It was great to be able to do a whole quilt from start to finish rather than just spending a few minutes trying out a machine at a show.  I was able to get a really good feel for it.  I'm so grateful to Renae for all of her help and patience.  She taught me some things that will really make a difference in my quilting.  I'm really glad that I can call her a friend. 

I'm linking up to TNT Thursday at Happy Quilting today.  Yay for trying new things!


  1. I'm glad you got to do that! Cool.

  2. Yippee Skippee for quilting the whole quilt. I loved when I got to do that. So much fun. I will have to give rulers a try some time. The quilting looks awesome!!!

  3. I am planning to learn long arm soon. I can't wait! Only in my dream would one ever be mine. We just don't have the space even if we did have the money. What a great friend to have and hurray for a decision!

  4. Did you get an Innova machine? I was just looking for feedback on Innova and found this post. I got to try one out today at a friend's house and am thinking about getting one. Thanks!


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