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Hi everyone. I have had my longarm machine about 2 1/2 weeks now. For the first 2 weeks, I only quilted muslin, scrap printed fabric, etc. Then, last Monday, (3 days ago) I took a longarm class from "the lady up the road" (as we call her) because she is one of the only people in the area and she has been longarming full time for 5 1/2 years. She can be difficult at times but is good overall. She told me to stop quilting on any more muslin or fabric and get one of my own quilts on there!

*Note: This lady does 90% of her quilting freehand. She doesn't even do pantos, she would rather do a freehand all-over design. This is another reason I wanted to take a class from her. I think I am going to prefer freehand work too.

So, I load on a flannel quilt I had that was far from an heirloom. I told my self that I was doing this for a customer and that I wanted it to come out really nice. (Yeah right!) The quilt is small, it is about 64 x 64 and I am about half way through it. I am doing about 5 different custom freehand designs throughout it. It is not coming out too bad but I need a lot more practice.

I would like to know, how does everyone else feel about just getting started. Any tips, tricks, etc. I always like to hear everyone's ideas because it gives me lots to try and see what works for me. I don't think I am going to like free-hand nearly as well as her. I simply want to be able to offer my customers beautiful custom quilting, edge-to-edge pantos, and I am also basting quilts for domestic machine quilters and hand quilters. Once I get going, I should have a good business because "the lady up the road" (as we call her) has an 8 month delay between taking you quilt in and you getting it back. A little too long for me to wait to get something quilted.

Thank you all and I look forward to hearing your responses! Have a great day!:cool:

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Hello Try2Hard, and welcome to the world of machine quliting. A good place to read tons of information is here on this web site. There is an area called Starting/Running your Quilting Business; Newbies: and any of the Ask the Experts, all of these places has information that the rest of of have posted messages, questions, frustrations, etc. You can find out all kinds of stuff there.

First off, don't be too hard on yourself. You have been at this 2 1/2 weeks!! My goodness, I have been at this 2 1/2 years and freehand terrifies me. Well, maybe not terrifies, but boy do I have a ways to go. I would say if you are attacking it now, you will be fine. Of course it is not going to look like someone's work who has been doing it for 5 years. Just do the best you can and keep learning.

Don't compare yourself to anyone else. Each person on this site seems to be artists to me. I am not. Doesn't mean I am not a quilter, I just won't be entering my work in MQS!! Not to say you won't - Just don't compare.

Take classes from well known teachers. Those ladies know their stuff and I haven't met one who is not encouraging.

Practice, Practice, Practice. I still put muslin in my machine...probably always will.

Those are only a few tips. Can't wait to see what others say.

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A thought from another newbie: ;)

Taking classes is very inportant, as is PPP, but the one thing that is also very important is to take all the info you get & make it yor own.

Great ladies like Karen McTavish, learned what they needed to, then made it their own , changed what suited them and came up with something new & exciting. What works for the Lady down the street, may not work for you, so "Tweeck IT" a little until it fits you, add your own style.

After you do, you'll find what ever you learned, will go alot smoother, & feel more comfortable.

Now I find panto's real easy, put the freemotion is going to take a long time for me to get, & make my own, but I will make it, & get really good at it, who know's I may be as good as some of the awsome LAer's on this forum.

Keep at it Try2hard, we'll both be old hat's at this in no time. :)

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Gerry and Mary Beth both hit the nail on the head....NEVER compare yourself to anyone....I was in advertising for years and it got so I could see a newspaper ad and tell you which one of the artists did it....its just like quilting you will develop your own style and make your style your own.

My daughter, use to come home and say "Mom, I saw one your quilts today." so it is true we each have our own style.

My only real suggestion to you is to never let anyone put you down....I worked for a quilt store for years and I don't know how many times I put feathers into a quilt and the owner would suggest that I take them out, because they didn't look like a "HAND QUILTED" feather...she wanted the tops and the spine to be as perfect as hand quilting. Mind you that this suggestion came frome someone who does not hand quilt and does not machine quilt....long arm or domestic machine. My feelings would be so hurt and I would cry because I had taken so much time to please her....they were good...they were every bit as good as I have seen on quilts at MQX and other shows....but I was never able to please her and to top it off she would threaten me with "if you can't get it, maybe I need to find another quilter". Now ask me why I'm happy to be in New York and not the west coast....;)

So please don't let this be your monkey....don't let anyone every do this to you....make it your own and own it.:cool:

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As a newbie I too can tell you that when I start to think about all the wondeful and talented quilters I see on this forum everyday and the local ones that have that "other machine that starts with a G" I can talk myself into being very discouraged. but thanks to all of the advice and encouragement everyone gives here, I am now excited about discovering what my "nitch" is going to be and I am bound and determined to have one. I am lucky in that I have a wonderful DH who believes I can do it so do it I will. I think the discouragement comes when we have to wait for customers and for our own style to develope. But I bet every single one of the gifted and talented mentors here felt the same at one time

Just my 2 cents worth

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Hi try2hard - I also am a newby, I got my Millie mid-June. I've been practicing on muslin (went through an entire bolt of 108") so that I become comfortable with the machine, how to load a quilt, what different threads work best for me, and just to gain the confidence that is beginning to emerge so that when I do get that first paying customer they will see that I'm not fearful of what I'm about to do with their quilt and then they will also have confidence that I won't butcher the stitching on their quilt. I've also completed about 5 donation quilts and one dbl quilt that was pieced by a dear friend who asked if I would like to practice on her quilt. This last quilt was truely a blessing as I learned sooooo much. It was a BOM and every block different made me think through the process of all different kinds of ways to quilt them. VERY GOOD PRACTICE. I think that it came out really well & so did she. I was really surprised when she gave me a very generous tip for it as I said I would do it free just for the practice.

I say that you should just practice on whatever you have to practice on. The donation quilts are out of donated fabrics that our church quilt group have sewn together and each one comes out different - very good practice.

Also all the tips on this chat is very valuable. Plus the encouragement is what most of us need. We are all our own worst enemy and these very talented quilters are what we need to keep a balance in our thinking. I'm very appreciative of all of them. So hang in there. It will become easier as time goes along. We all have to go through this learning curve and some of us are at the beginning of the curve and some are topped out.

Just my 2 cents worth & I hope that this helps.

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Hi Try2hard,

Everyone has given you really good advice.....I'm no longer a newbie, but my freehand quilting still needs lots of work. I did a lot of practice on muslin, and still do whenever I get the chance, so don't give that up. Its more useful to use muslin when you are trying to learn a pattern because you won't be restricted by a block size. Eventually though, you'll need to work on the real deal, and charity quilts are perfect for this. Also, the beauty of this job is that each quilt you work on will teach you something.....whenever I am having a hard time with a quilt, I try to focus on what I'm learning either about the right thread to use, or the best design to use etc. It will keep your work in perspective. It also helps me to draw on a white board whatever pattern I have in mind before trying it out on a muslin scrap.....I usually draw evey morning for 15 or 20 minutes to try to implant a design in my mind and hope it will come out of my hands later.:D

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Hi there Try2Hard - and Welcome to the forum! There is so much info. here

and many "wise ones" who have done things before us! Love to search

through the database when I have a new question or a different quilt block

that I am trying to figure out what to quilt on it..... so much info!

It is nice that the lady down the road is willing to help you!

You have received some great advise above and I agree with it. When I am

doing a quilt for a customer - who just wants the "cheapest / over-all stuff"

depending on the color and cloth, and type of thread I am using, I will play!

I am getting practice on a new style and they are getting a great custom

quilting job! We are all happy!:D

Still nice to have muslin on hand. If I am trying out new threads I will some-

times zip on my sample piece first to play, especially if the cusomters hasn't

provided a lot of extra room with their backing.

Good Luck! - soon we will be looking at photos of your work! Hey- don't

laugh - when you get something great done - you will want to share!;)

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This makes me think. You know, every one on here that is really,really good has some real thread vomit in their past. Everyone starts somewhere, so I got to thinking, I would love to see some of the very first quilts of some of our best quilters on this site. I think it would put your aspirations in perspective, eh?

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I pieced 10 tops so I could practice on when my machine arrived. I still laugh at some of my first quilts....egads and that was 3 1/2 years ago (I am still learning new ways of doing things).

Everyone has given you great advice. I encourage you to go to MQS or MQX and take as many classes as you can. It is truly enlightening. You come out of the classes thinking "I can do this, it is not as hard as I thought."

Cheryl Mathre

Stone Creek Quilting

Sandy Hook, VA:)

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