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What won't computer software do?

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Since DH and I are new to longarming, we're trying to decide if we should go straight to computer guided quilting for custom work or if we should first use Circle Lords and/or other hand guided tools for custom work and then sell those tools when we add the computer.


So, my question is this:

If we buy the computer program, what won't it do? 


Or, put another way, what tools will I need for custom work no matter what?  Like a ruler base, etc?


We're going to start researching but I wanted to get your ideas first. 


Thank you,


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Computers are excellent for anything repetitive like using a motif in more than one block.  Stitch in the ditch can be done with good accuracy but is painfully slow compared to using a big base and ruler.  The computer will do anything you can think up.  It is a question of learning the software.  Here is a link to the IQ training videos to give you an idea of the possibilities.  http://www.iqdemos.com/  The software has been improving a lot over the last couple of years (free upgrades) so try to watch the newer stuff.


We have a Circle Lord and some templates and do think it is a great product but you can easily spend a good amount of money there.  Anything the Circle Lord can do a computer can do and re-size as well. 



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I've just purchased the Intelliquilter in June and I love it. When I started out with my Lenni I bought the Circle Lord and also the Quiltazoid and load of patterns boards. The computer is not for everyone, but I am a bit of a gadget freak, and even though the CL and QZ are fabulous tools, if I was starting from scratch today I would have bought the IQ first.

I still think you need a selection of rulers and an extended base. The computer will do just about everything you want it to do. Most of the systems available today allow you to go from computer mode to free hand within a few seconds. So it is very easy to to use say the IQ and incorporate free hand quilting on your project.

I do think it is a good idea to learn at least the basics of free hand quilting, as there will be times you will want or need to do some free hand quilting.

I was quite taken aback a few days ago reading on one of my forums that a member was sad that so many computer quilts with all over patterns were being judged along side other quilts. I do agree that they should be judged in there own category, but it was the statement that we push a few buttons and can go away and have a coffee or do other things.

Using a computer you are still very involved with the quilting, it does not choose the design for you or advance the quilt Etc. As they say the tools are only as good as the operator . :)

Which ever way you choose, having a Longarm is great fun.

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I don't have a computer, and when I decided to do longarm quilting, that wasn't the objective. I do a few customer quilts per year, mainly heavy heirloom quilting. I got the LA for artistic expression, and for me...using a computer would feel like using somebody else's art.

That said, if I were going to do this as a business, I would definitely get a computer. It is faster and more precise and the designs are more intricate. I would never do a panto as complex as some of the computerized designs. The results are beautiful, and as mentioned, you can still enhance with freehand quilting.

You can have a LOT of money invested in rulers, gadgets, etc. I probably have a couple thousand in Quiltazoid, templates, rulers, etc.

So, examine your motives...to do a lot of quilts and make money, or do a few quilts for yourself or others as an artistic expression. If you want to attract customers who basically want the quilt quilted attractively, a computer is the way to go. If you want customers who want your blood, sweat and tears all over every inch of the quilt, wobbles and all..a computer may not be for you.

As I get older and freehanding becomes more difficult, I would certainly add a computer rather than give up a hobby I love.

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There is so much involved in custom quilting, I would recommend that you wait a bit before you get a CG system. I would liken it to any other job that must be learned. Baby steps until you learn what constitutes custom quilting.


If you get a quilt with a medallion center and sampler blocks surrounding it, with multiple pieced borders, and sashings--if you are at a loss about how to quilt it--what to place where, and what will look good--having a CG system isn't going to help you at all. You must first learn what looks good and why a motif is placed in a specific area.  Practice and a thoughtful eye will show you why it looks good, how to use a theme to quilt multiple areas that balance and co-ordinate, and how dense the quilting should be overall.


It's a learned process, so take the time it takes. If you're near any of the machine quilting shows, find classes--you and your DH can take separate classes and teach each other!


Once you have a handle on custom quilting--placing motifs, deciding on thread color and quilting density--all the stuff that makes a quilt top sing--then you can get the computer. Because you'll know enough about the bones of the quilting to use the fabulous designs digitized by artists and quilters. You'll recognize what looks good where, and whether a freestanding motif needs an echo or two to fill in the space around it. Or if CG and freehand together will make it better.


You'll still need to be able to freehand so get good at that and use the CG system to enlarge your abilities. It won't work if it's your only ability.   :) 

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I agree Linda and Kath


I waited 2 years to purchase my IQ, and my reason for purchase is I want to do more faster.  However, as Kath stated, if she had it to over again she would have gone with the computer first.  I chose not to invest in a lot of pantos, no CL/Quiltazoid due to lack of storage and I knew I wanted to save for the IQ.  I did as Linda said, I went to classed, I watched all the tutorials on the IQ website.  I have been practicing when I can (I work FT)  an I have learned a 4 year Degree in Longarm Quilting on this forum alone.  There has been some very valuable information here.    So take your time, learn what you can and practice practice practice. 


Good Luck!

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If you can afford it get it all at once. But having said that it will only put on a quilt what you tell it to. I only just purchased Quilt path and received it last week. I have had my machine 6 years. I only bought it for the Ability to do more customer quilts in a week. My body wasn't allowing me to work that much these days.

There is a learning curve to the machine as well as computer system. Even with the computer system I would recommend a ruler base, red snappers or leader grips for ease of loading, turning etc. as well as a ruler that fits nicely in your had for stitch in the ditch, etc. you will still need to learn to do some freehand and I do recommend classes either hands on or drawing, at the very least books.

Don't buy a bunch of any one thread until you figure out what your machine likes. They have their own personalities and likes.

It is like buying a car, get what you can afford on your want list.

Hope this helps. I won't be able to answer any computer related questions until I have installed it. I made myself clean my studio first, since I know it won't get done after.


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I have had a computerized system for 6 to 7 years. I started out in business without one. If I were to do it again for business I would get a computer right away. Quilting is labor intensive. Even if the machine glides  like on ice, it still means you have to start and stop the machine, move the machine and create your designs...it is work. No matter which way you chose to go there will be a learning curve. I still love to work on my machine with out a computer assisting me. I am very glad I have the skill to do custom work free hand and wouldn't want to be without that abililty.


The bread and butter of a business is pantographs and having a computer to do those is awesome.

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