My Turn to Ask for Your Help

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APQS Family,

Can you help me? I proposed a class for MQS this May called "Answers to 100 Most Asked Questions about Machine Quilting", thinking after nearly 20 years in the industry I could surely come up with that many questions, if not more! I thought it would be fun to do a class strictly based on lots of random tips and tricks to have a little something for everyone from newbie to golden oldies ;).

Well, I have stalled out at about 68 questions :). I am not asking for the answers (unless you want to share)! but if you have a question you have been dying to ask someone, or one you wish you would have asked when you were starting out, or whatever, let me know. No question is "dumb"--as I tell my students, the only dumb question is the one you choose not to ask. I will take anything from the very basics to more elaborate ones!

If you have any suggestions, shoot me an email at dawn@apqs.com. Thanks for your help! BTW, I am always looking for topics for the Fons and Porter magazine articles on machine quilting, so if you have suggestions for that I am all ears too!


APQS Customer Service & Education Director



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You most probably already have these but here goes.

What is your most frequently used quilting tool?

What type of scissors do you use to snip threads?

Name one gadget you have bought that was useless!

How do you store your thread?

What shoes do you wear when standing all day?

Lyn Crump   Hand Guided 2013 Millenium Blissed and Gliding    APQS Sales Rep SE Qld Australia   www.busyquilting.com.au   On Facebook and Instagram as BusyQuilting

Attitude is everything - So pick a good one!

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Discuss ways to help your thread path.....such as the little wad of batting in the loop above the cone; turning the cone up side down; altering the weave through the three hole tensioner. Sorry, this isn't in question form.

Sandra Darlington

Darlington Quilts

2005 APQS Liberty, Circle Lord Enhanced

sandradarlington@aol.com or


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Let's make a helpful hints book and credit all authors of input used and have it published, you could start with a request through Fons and Porter and of course all the lovely people on this site and it could somehow be generalized to apply to the many machines out there. Possibly a contest of sorts with some of the proceeds leading to a prize.

Oh nuts, I'm thinking again and my brain hurts!! Ha Ha---Dave B.

If you don't want to get this carried away you could also include tips on area set-up. fabric stash storage, organizing your customer quilts and due out dates, etc, batting racks for the sewing area,thread display and storage, forms to aid in the process, advertising, customer lists, just anything that would be helpful.

Jane and Dave (Grasshopper) Brown APQS Dealer,Quilt Design,Piecing,Long Arm Quilting Custom Racks, Wall Hangers, L.A. Clips, Millie and Lenni front Laser Brackets, Sundries. www.countryquiltsncrafts.com Randolph, Wisconsin

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Why is diagonal stitching so much more difficult than horizontal or vertical?

How do I adjust my bobbin winder to get perfectly wound bobbins?

What do I use the channel locks on my machine for?

Why does my machine vibrate more is some positions than in others?

What type needle point is best for long arm quilting?

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Okay, I'm a newbie. So here goes. (Don't laugh please)

How do you tell when your needle is dull? My domestic makes a different sound when sewing.

When you change your needle, what is your favorite trick?

When you blow your machine out, is compressed canned air bad? Why?

Sue O

The Crafty Fox

A scrappy girl in the material world

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Oh well here goes LOL

I'm sure you have these already :)

What is bearding ?

What are pokies ?

What are railroad tracks ?

What are eyelashes ?

Which way is UP (batting)

How much extra backing.

Tips on piecing backing.

Squaring backing the easy way.

Warp & Weft.


Stitches per inch.

Recommended stitch lengths for quilting.

Brains gone into freeze mode :P

Happy owner of my newly Blissed 09 Lenni, with new friend Intelliquilter ClasiQ



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This may help :() I was just practicing with my swag rullers and they stitched fine but when I did the corner with some melon templates my stitching went really lose and lumpy above and below. I presume this was caused by me pressing nervously on the templates too hard as they had no centre and I was probably pressing too firmly on the edge???

Using the Tension Guages for the upper and lower thread??

Needle sizes?

Lol lots more, but you probably already have them :))

Good Luck


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I always start at the beginning...

Quilt squared?

Back squared?

Loading the backer is the most important thing in having a "successful" quilt. I watched YOUR video and I never deviate. I have a flat quilt bed every time... I can load an "unpressed" back and it comes out perfectly flat with no tucks or pleats.

Following each step as you quilt is also very important - IE: basting, SID, etc...

Squaring the machine?


Cleaning the rails and wheels?

Machine maintenance?

Power advance Maintenance?

Thread winder maintenance?

Tread combinations IE: I get perfect tension with So Fine on the bottom and OMNI on the top.

I'm sure there's more, have fun with this!

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How about when to go fast and when to go slow?

When I'm teaching sit down quilters, the biggest issue I see is speeding. They think "It's a machine so it should quilt 20 times faster than hand quilting" or "I've seen someone stitch on a longarm (zoom, zoom) so I'm going to move my fabric sandwich at 70 mph". Once they slow down & learn to control the machine speed, their accuracy always improves.

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Other services a longarmer can offer

Storing batting and fabric and how much to buy initially

Pressing the backing fabric vs just spraying water on it and rolling it smooth

Fabric bleeding

Will moving the quilt with the needle in tear the fabric?

When would you do traditional trapunto vs faux?

How to decide what to charge customers

Do I need a website to have a business?

Do you trim the excess batting and backing for the customer?

Sharing photos of customer’s quilts?

Do I have to trim all the excess threads on a customer’s quilt?

Working with batiks

What do I quilt first? Borders , SID, middle, fill?

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How and why to change your leaders, or how to straighten them out.

When should you send your machine head back for a spa treatment vs. when you should post a question on the chat. (I once attended a DSM class on when to take the machine to the shop vs. when to fix it yourself. Very helpful.)

Suggestions for getting better photos of your quilts from your own camera, not calling a professional

How do you decide what to quilt?

Quilting designs that can be made small, but not necessarily background fills.

Beth Durand

Elizabeth Originals Custom Quilting



2006 APQS Millenium

Authorized APQS Dealer

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How do I straighten my leaders?

How often do I need to oil the bobbin case?

When do I need or not need the bobbin tension disc in my bobbin case?

When do I need a thread net on my spool of thread?

What bobbin and top thread combinations play nicely together?

How do I tell when I need to change my pigtail thread guides?

How often to I clean my black wheels and with what?

How do you repair a small tear in the quilt top?

How do you make a pleat in a wavy "friendly" border?

What batting type(s) are best for wall hangings, bed quilts, placemats, table runners etc?

Do I need to recheck my tension when I change from one batting type to the next?

Do I need to recheck my tension when starting a new quilt if I am using the same batting and thread as the last quilt?

What is a Towa Guage and Bobbin tension guage and how do I use them?

What happens if my thread gets caught in the fly wheel?

How big of a quilt can I do on my 10' table, 12' table or 14' table?

What are zippers and what are they used for?

What are the 'Red Snapper' things people talk about and how are they used?

How can I audition designs on my quilt without actually stitching them out on the quilt?

When should I use the different colored chalks in the pounce pads?

Lucy Drinkall

o2b Quilting, LLC
APQS sales/rental and custom quilting

1025 Industrial Drive, Suite A
Spring Valley, MN 55975

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How often should I dip into the chocolate stash when quilting out a difficult pattern?

Is drinking wine suggested after dealing with a stressful customer?

Perhaps you should start with these two and go from there!

For real......do you pre-mark your quilting area or mark after it is on the machine?

should you check for squareness after every roll of the leaders?

Just Sew Simple Sylvia Blissett APQS Freedom '09 "Stitch" Circle Lord 2010 “"Until one has loved an animal, Part of their soul remains unawakened.”

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How do you start and stop-tie in tie off

How do you mark your quilt

How do you know when you are over oiling.

How come the black light doesn't work on everything.

How do you level your table.

Can I use any thread or needle?

What happens if you get a bad quilt top.

How do you find out price in your area.

How do you stop the needle from going up and down when you stop?

How do you change a fuse?


Best books and videos.

Shoud I take classes?

Where do I find ideas on how to quilt a quilt? www.webshots.com

How do I learn how to do feathers?

How do I advertise for business?

How do I advance a pantograph?

What's the best computer system?

What's the best way to digitize your own designs?

How do you fix a sagging back already loaded. (unroll and reroll then take a tuck at the canvas till it's drawn up tight.

Do I match my thread top and botton.

Do I match my thread to the fabric and change color.

What color should the back be.

Should I buy bliss.

Should I buy M&M's

What's the best bobbin winder?

Can I crosshatch with the channel locks?

How do you stitch in the ditch.

How do you test drive machines when you are looking for one.

Should I buy a used machine?

I'm sure I have a million more if I just sat and thought for a while.

APQS Freedom owner

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What's not been said...unless I missed it:

How to I adjust my tension for different threads, do I always use the bobbin case for adjustments? Or the top? or Both, and where do you start?

(for me, I have different bobbin cases set to different thread weights, so I dont have to adjust the bobbin case) Only the top tension. It's $10 a case, but well worth the time for me.

What's the correct height my table should be?

F55CA928B31BF9D50E35FB71F402EFB1.png Millennium/IntelliQuilter 402-450-8321 Designer of the 1/2" foot for Ult II's. 1sheributler@gmail.com

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These are great questions. I too am teaching a class like this at another show. Keep them coming

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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How tight should you side clamps make the quilt?

How do I start and stop if I don't want to bury threads?

If doing SID to anchor blocks, do you only do the area within your workspace at one time or do you needle down and advance the quilt?

How do you handle doing a design motif (ie, feathered wreath) if it is too large for the throat workspace of you machine?

What is easiest way to place a panto under the plastic overlay and carriage?

Hope some of these haven't been asked before. Sally

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