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quilterscafe

Advice on Trials and Tribulations of the Learning Curve

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After studying posts on trouble shooting in this forum, I've come to realize there is a huge learning curve one must go through to learn the ins and outs of operating a long arm sewing machine. I think I'm beginning to appreciate the comments so many people have made on the "fear factor" of owning and learning to use one of these machines. I don't have a dealer nearby where I could show up for classes to learn how to set up or operate a new machine as a new owner. It seems like the primary method of learning is through trial and error and trouble shooting with the support of other owners through online forums, or with the help of phone support from APQS. If this is true, what is a realistic expectation for the time needed to go through the learning curve everybody goes through to master the basics? Also, is the learning curve mostly related to care and use of the machine, or do you find that you are also learning how to quilt, all over again, because it is so very different on a long arm? I'm also wondering if people feel they are getting better results with their quilting on a long arm, or is it mostly all about the freedom and ease of use, gliding along the surface of your quilt top, rather than being hunched over a small machine, fighting with the small area of quilting space.;)

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When I started out there was no information except for trial and error, and I made plenty of errors:D. If you really want to shorten your learning curve, it is definately worthwhile to spend the money and go to a longarm show and take some classes or take a class with a visiting teacher (like Myrna Ficken). There are classes in machine maintenance (that cover the most common problems) and techniques of quilting. Classes will shorten the learning curve, and get you to the moneymaking part much quicker.;)

Janet Mohler

Colorado Springs

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Guest LA

Where are you located?

I may be able to pull some ideas together for you!:D

Originally posted by quilterscafe

After studying posts on trouble shooting in this forum, I've come to realize there is a huge learning curve one must go through to learn the ins and outs of operating a long arm sewing machine. I think I'm beginning to appreciate the comments so many people have made on the "fear factor" of owning and learning to use one of these machines. I don't have a dealer nearby where I could show up for classes to learn how to set up or operate a new machine as a new owner. It seems like the primary method of learning is through trial and error and trouble shooting with the support of other owners through online forums, or with the help of phone support from APQS. If this is true, what is a realistic expectation for the time needed to go through the learning curve everybody goes through to master the basics? Also, is the learning curve mostly related to care and use of the machine, or do you find that you are also learning how to quilt, all over again, because it is so very different on a long arm? I'm also wondering if people feel they are getting better results with their quilting on a long arm, or is it mostly all about the freedom and ease of use, gliding along the surface of your quilt top, rather than being hunched over a small machine, fighting with the small area of quilting space.;)

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If you can't get to a show, there are a number of DVD's from various teachers on maintenance and quilting techniques. The good thing is that you can watch them over and over, the bad thing is that you can't ask questions. These are available at most longarm supply companies.

Janet Mohler

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quilterscafe

You are always welcome to ask question here. The learning curve is different for everyone. Books and DVD are an option. If an educator comes anywhere close to you take the opportunity to go take classes. Where are you located? How long have you had your machine? Relax and give yourself the freedom to play on your machine and learning will come eaiser.

Myrna


Myrna Ficken A Quilter's Choice - APQS West, 5787 S. Gallup, Littleton, CO 80120;  Store 435-414-2026 Mobile 435-229-2703  myrnaf@q.com  www.aquilterschoice.com community. Look me up on Facebook   A Quilter's Choice - APQS West

 

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I vote for coming to Oregon to meet with Linda. I'm fortunate, and only had to drive 2 hours to get to her, but it was worth every minute, even the ones that I spent talking to the nice police officer who reportedly clocked me at 83mph! (He didn't give me a ticket, I was shocked when he said how fast I was going!)

I think that the standard reply of "Practice, practice, practice" is certainly accurate, but also frustrating. I had had my machine for about 3 months by the time I was able to work out a date that worked for Linda and myself, and there are advantages to waiting as well as disadvantages. DVD's and books are helpful, but I think having real person to show your work to, and get feedback on was the most helpful. Actually seeing what Linda was doing helped me the most i think. I know that money is not something that most of us have at ease to throw around, but consider the cost of going to a teacher as "tuition" in your longarm education. And worth every penny.


Beth Durand

Elizabeth Originals Custom Quilting

www.eocquilting.com

beth@eocquilting.com

2006 APQS Millenium

Authorized APQS Dealer

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JUST FOR LAUGHS-----

A list of things I hope to only do once!!!!!

1. Load a backer upside down.

2. Load a backer over the idler bar.

3. Run over an appendage with the machine.

4. Quilt a foreign object into a quilt.

5. Quilt happily along without checking underneath for tension boo-boos (this will forever be a problem for me--some people never learn!!)

6. Realize if I'm going to dance and sing in my studio I should put down the blinds!

The learning curve is different for everybody but boy, what a ride!!

Who can add to the list?

Linda Rech

Olympia Wa


Linda Rech

Finely Finished Quilts

Millennium on Bliss rails--hand-guided

http://www.topperquilttools.com

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7. Check that you have quilted all areas before taking the quilt off the frame. :(

8. Measure twice, quilt once so you don't run out of batting or backing. Been there done that twice now... :mad:

9. Sew the quilt to the leader. :o

10. Stop sewing when the bobbin runs out of thread. Been there done that many, many times. Especially on pantographs. I'm quilting along happily, get the the end of the row and see that I quilted most of the row without any bobbin thread. :mad:


Debbi Prodigy w/ Intelliquilter , A-1 Platinum Elite

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Confirming the list!

Haven't done much myself other that play around practice since July with a busy summer, garden, yardwork, and back to school August 18 but...I have managed to do #8, #9, and #10 already:o! It turns your face red and you are glad you are alone. Will I learn after one time? Hopefully, but probably not...Oh yes, can add # 11: make a hole in the top::mad:


Linda(Petey)

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Thank you so much for all these great replies! I had not realized the sheer complexity of quilting on a longarm. I guess all those incredible quilts by long arm quilters made it look deceptively easy. This has been a really good reality check for me! It definitely seems like having a mentor to learn from can really make a difference. I'll keep that in mind. If anything, I can see there is a real opportunity out here in Southern California for providing classes in my area, since no one is out this way doing it! I was exploring the possibility of opening a studio and offering rental time for people who don't own a long arm. I guess just like in machine quilting, every little mistake becomes an opportunity to feel challenged and every challenge met is an opportunity to feel the exhileration of accomplishment. It reminds me a bit like winning battles in the kitchen with my Julia Childs cookbook! Thanks again everybody!

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well, if you can claim 10 out of the 11 does that make you a winner:P

#12 pull the batting up and tuck it under so it doesn't get all dirty and sew the tucked up part to the quilt


068AE7983835931B5513447E68ECA1B3.png

Bekah

Shepherd's Garden Quilting

APQS Sales Representative

APQS Millenium

www.shepherdsgardenquilting.com

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I think I have done all of the above. Today we attended the quilt show in Harrisburg PA. It was great. We arrived at ten AM and left at 6 PM. It took two hours driving each way. We saw everything there was to see. What talent, it was fantastic. We got lots of inspiration. I bought the set of five point star templates so I won't have to use the paper ones I was tracing onto my Stars across America that is on the machine right now. I think these can be used right next to the hopping foot. Will try them tomorrow.

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Too funny! I have only quilted 3 quilts so far and the 3rd is still on the machine waiting for me to finish! I have in that short time done #1,#2,#5 and #7. I've done those 4 like 3 times each!Yet, I'm grateful for the # of mistakes I haven't made!!!I have had to rip 2 quilts entirely because of bad tension..now I'm learning! Elaine


APQS Freedom

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I've think I have pretty much covered 1 through 12 and now need to add the Lucky "13"

13: Throw away your seam ripper and get a sharp pair of tiny scissors. I use these to do my frogging....after cutting a customers quilt....no make that quilts (same customer)...and make it three cuts total (two on one about 1/4 long and a huge one over 1 inch on the second). I find it easy to slip with a ripper and have since thrown them away...don't own one and never will again. I clip every 4th to 8th stitch and pull the bottom thread...unzips like a zipper.

Just a addition to my learning curve. :cool:


Bonnie Botts

APQS Sales Rep - Certified Service Technician

APQS Millennium 2006---MJ

APQS Millennium 2004---Lucy

405-533-1025 home

518-935-3832 cell

"Absolute rules are about as useless in making quilts as they are in raising children" Carter Houck---1992

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sjdanley, I'm in the Pasadena area. Bekah, yes, it makes you a winner if you can claim 10 out of the 11! Think of Edison, and where we'd be at if he hadn't gone through the same trials. Honestly, I'd rather be on a quest for the perfect quilt than to miss out on the adventure, boo-boos and all! I love lucky #13, thanks!

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:DWoW you gals are good, in the short time that I've had "Gracie" I have only done #'s 2 & 9 three times each at least, 7,8, only once, & last but not least #10 all the time. I must be slow, need to PPP more, if I get the mistakes out of the way, that means I'm learning.

I was thinking that if I tape a large row of red XXXXX's or maybe a strip of red tape, across the leveler bar, I'll remember to put the back under & not over.

If I have to frog a section, while the quilt is still on the rollers, I hold the top thread up (with some tension) in one hand, (then useing my snippers) clip the bobbin thread as it comes up, seems to go quite fast, & I don't get anywhere close to the quilt top, & risk a hole, I would die :(if I had to tell some one I had put a hole in their work.

I have to keep the blinds down at night in the quilting room, if I don't the lights will wake the neighbours:cool:. Plus if I started dancing, & tried to quilt at the same time I could cause an acident or something, it's like learning to drive a car & trying to chew gum at the same time, not good.;)

Took me weeks to be able to even listen to music while driving, but then I did learn to drive in Germany, (a bit scary) & with a baby in the back (before car-seats), & it was a standard.

If I can do that I can do free-hand :mad:


Gerry in Duncan B.C. Canada

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I do #2 over and over, sometimes twice a day. I worked on a Gammill for 3 years and there wasn't a bar there so I'm used to just pulling the backing up and pinning it on. My husband even took a permanent marker and wrote " Is this over the bar?" on the leader and believe it or not, I still did it.


www.webshots.com/user/victoriasews

www.Fiberobsessive.blogspot.com

Innova and Intelliquilter

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Okay, confession time...#1, #3, #4, #5 - finally, #6 (but, let me just say Blue Grass is not waltzing ;)), #8, #10, #11 and I could add a #13 - Getting confused when stitching a panotgraph and going BACK over the stitching line that you just did instead of forward! (Been there, done that, more than once):)


Mary Beth 

Powered by 2009 Freedom

Future winner of the Millie Sweepstakes

http://marysnutshell.blogspot.com/




 

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Janet,

I just saw your amazing quilt, Echantillonner! Wow, I was so inspired! You should put a photo of it up on the web, or if you have, I couldn't find it! I was wondering, if you happen to see this post, what did you mean by "faux trapunto" in Karen M's book? It says you used white polyester over white and natural, in faux trapunto. Did you use two layers of batting and leave them both in (whole) beneath the two layers of cloth? I was also wondering if the book you found the pattern in was filled with lots of great designs for whole cloth patterns (its going for $90 here in the US now so thought I would ask first!) I really really like the way yours came out with the McTavishing!!!!!:)

Thanks again,

Kathy

Sincerely,

Kathy

Originally posted by JLM

When I started out there was no information except for trial and error, and I made plenty of errors:D. If you really want to shorten your learning curve, it is definately worthwhile to spend the money and go to a longarm show and take some classes or take a class with a visiting teacher (like Myrna Ficken). There are classes in machine maintenance (that cover the most common problems) and techniques of quilting. Classes will shorten the learning curve, and get you to the moneymaking part much quicker.;)

Janet Mohler

Colorado Springs

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I'm before new at this. After reading all the mistakes, I'm getting cold feet. I love to quilt but my arthritis is getting in the way. I have just begun looking at long arms. Is there any advice you all can give me before we make this investment. Which machine is the best?

Jan

California transplant to Utah

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The best thing I would suggest is for you to go to a quilt show that has all or at least several of the manufactures and try each and everyone before you make your investment choice.

You will find that any of the APQS machines glide very easily where others have a bit of a stick to them, but without trying them its very hard for us to explain that to you....its like trying to explain what red is to someone who is blind and has never had site... Try each one and then decide what's for you.


Bonnie Botts

APQS Sales Rep - Certified Service Technician

APQS Millennium 2006---MJ

APQS Millennium 2004---Lucy

405-533-1025 home

518-935-3832 cell

"Absolute rules are about as useless in making quilts as they are in raising children" Carter Houck---1992

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Just thought I would tell you how I rip out thread. I pick out the first couple of stitches on top with my stylus, then pull on it and it brings up a loop of the bottom thread which I bring up with my stylus, just keep pulling the top thread and pulling up the bottom thread. Every once in a while I clip the bottom thread that I have pulled up. Maybe this takes a little longer, but I am not using scissors or a seam ripper (except to clip that bottom thread) while doing it and have not cut a single quilt.

Romona

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I confess I have done 1,2,5,&7.

I have to say that there is a learning curve. I am beginning to feel much more comfortable with my machine. I have finshed my 67th quilt and 68 is loaded and out there waiting for me (it is one of mine................only the 5th that is mine so I do much more for others). In any case I am beginning to feel when things go wrong, the noise that the machine makes, the needle makes and such all make sense. I can tell just from the feel when the bobbin thread is run out.............usually.

My pantographs look decent.....................you should have seen my first ones. In fact I just finished a quilt for a freind and I designed a pantograph just for her quilt..................she loves it!

My feathers are looking good.....................not perfect.

When I look at the photos on my webshots I definatly see that I have come a long way.............................my first photos definaly are not as good as the work I am doing now.

Just remember that you are not going to become proficient in one day, week, or even one year. It takes time and lots and lots of quilting to really get good. Also remember that we each are different so do not expect to advance in skill at the same rate as someone else. Be willing to push yourself beyond your comfort zone and do not expect perfection jsut aim for it.

Enjoy!

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