Friday, July 30, 2021

Long Arm Quilting

 Whoo-hoo! I'm trained and certified to use the club's long arm! 

Let me back up - 
The community where I live has a very active quilt club, a dedicated sewing room in the Creative Arts building, and a long arm machine. New members of the club have to be certified to use the long arm. That means they have to be trained on the club's procedures and this specific machine. During Covid no training could take place. Now that most everyone here has been vaccinated, training has resumed. Since there's been an influx of new residents here in PebbleCreek there was a long wait list for training. 

My turn came up last week. My trainer Debbie and fellow student Wendy spent two afternoons training. The first lesson was about procedures and preparation. We ended that afternoon by pulling a charity quilt, checking that its backing and batting were the right size and squared up, selecting thread and a panto, and winding bobbins. 

The second lesson was hands on. Look what we did! 

Yes, there are plenty of wobbles and bobbles.  After all, we're beginners. And those tight curves were surprisingly difficult to follow on the panto. But we got it done! 

The quilt was from the club's charity to-be-quilted pile and is about 45 x 60". It took about an hour to load it on the frame due to learning, and about 1.5 hours of actual quilting time, 5 passes on the panto. 

Now I'm allowed to use the club's long arm. There are procedures for signing up for time slots, etc. and it's recommended that I have an experienced buddy in the room to call on if I have questions. I'll find another charity quilt, get on the schedule, and have an opportunity to practice.  I'll practice with pantos as recommended, but I'm looking forward to FMQ from the front of the machine, even if it's only a simple meander at first. 

Preparation ahead of time that doesn't require the use of the machine maximizes the time you can spend on the machine during your reserved time slot. I can do the prep any time, then find a buddy and get on the schedule. 

I have to say, I have much greater appreciation now for the skills of professional long arm quilters, and for all the prep they have to do to get the quilt and the machine ready to quilt. 


  1. There are some things about longarm quilting that are not obvious, like loading a vertical seam on a backing isn't great (I would rotate and load a quilt horizontally to avoid it after I learned the hard way). Congratulations on the training and I hope you get on the schedule and continue to enjoy it as you learn more!

  2. How exciting! Think of all the money you will save too and you can say you did it all yourself!

  3. Amen. I totally admire those who quilt on a stand up long arm.

  4. Have fun with long arming. Some people can get proficient at following pantos really fast and others never quite get there. (ME!) Look for pantographs without tight curves. I had one that was butterflies that I could do pretty well. We eventually got a computerized system for my machine and I've been cranking out quilts ever since. (well really only 2 or 3 a month if that plus a few customers -- but not many.)

  5. Go you!! what fun I see in your future!!

  6. Yay, for taking a step forward and learning a new skill. I have no doubt you'll be zooming along producing more charity quilts in no time.

  7. Congrats Jan. It won't be long until you will be FMQ with the best of them knowing what a good quilter you are. What kind of machine does the club use?

  8. Looks great! It's surprising to me how long the preparation time is, but I suppose it will get faster as you get more experienced :)