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What Goodies Should I Buy for my New (to me) Millie?

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I am bringing home my first ever long arm machine on Tuesday, a 2013 dealer demo blissed  Millenium on a 12' table.  I am SO EXCITED!  My APQS dealer is 2 hours away from me and I want to be able to jump in right away as soon as she's set up in my studio.  What goodies should I buy while I'm in the shop?  

I know I want to learn to do ruler work, so I'll need the extended base.  I do intricate appliqué on my own quilts and would like to be able to ditch around the appliqué with accuracy.  Are the micro drive handles the best way to do that, or should I try one of the acrylic needle guide tools (sold by long arm ruler mfgs) instead?  What thread should I start with?  Any other gadgets or gizmos that would be helpful?  Also, if I put her on casters, can I move her on carpet?  I just want to give myself an extra couple feet behind the machine for pantos and be able to push her back to the wall when I'm working from the front or using my other machines.

i'm hoping to add IQ or Quiltpath in the future, but first I want to get used to the machine, loading quilts, etc.

Any advice or suggestions greatly appreciated.

Rebecca Grace


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Congratulations, Rebecca, on your new machine.

 If you want to go with a computer I wouldn't invest a lot of money in rulers and pantographs as you won't need them.  I would just practice freehand techniques with feathers etc.  I never wanted micro drive handles because I don't like anything in the way of my vision, even though they say you can move them out.  I'm pretty sure I've heard where quilters attach a magnifier so they can see the area better and get the small stitching they like.

 As for thread I prefer Superior So Fine and Bottom Line as they blend really well on custom type of quilting.  I did buy some Glide to use on baby quilts.  It's really a matter of preference and for some, cost.  

You'll find that there's no one way that's really better than another.  It's basically all a matter of preference.  But when you add the cost of all the pantographs and rulers you buy, you'll find you're well on your way to a significant deposit on a computer system.  Good luck with your choice.

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Congratulations Rebecca on your Millie and welcome to the forum.  

I have castors on my Millie and it sits on carpet.  It is pretty easy to move.  Another way is to use furniture moving pads, the small circular things.  I know there are people on the forum that use those and like them just fine.  They are less expensive than the castors while you decide whether or not you want to move your machine around.

I use various threads but one of my favorites is Isacord.  You will probably have some of that in your thread collection.  If you don't already get e-mails from Superior you might sign up for them as they often have specials that allow you to try different threads without investing too much money until you find what works for you.  Glide http://www.bobbincentral.com/top-thread.html if another popular thread.

I have one of these extended bases http://www.lovetoquilt.com I leave it on all the time.  It comes in two versions for machines with and without a thread cutter.  I will caution you that it can take a while for the extended base to arrive.  I didn't have an issue with mine but I know that some people have reported delays.

The micro drive handles are kind of a personal preference.  I have them but as yet haven't used them much, others use them a lot.  I would wait a while and just get the feel of things first.

As far as rulers perhaps just start by getting a small straight ruler for SID and maybe one for working around appliqué.  You may find that you prefer stitching around appliqué freehand when you become familiar with your machine.

I am sure others will chime in with their preferences!

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Good morning.  And congrats on your new Millie. Re thread, I'm sold completely on Glide thread and manga bobbins sold on www.bobbincentral.com. The bobbins have a small magnet that holds very good to your bobbin case (be sure to take out the bobbin spring first).  Those  threads work so well together I almost never have a tension issue.  I do have the micro handles, but I didn't use them very often.  I'm not a micro quilter as I thought I would be due to health issues.  I would be willing to sell them if your interested.  I agree with Libby to practice free motion a bunch!  I used a small white erase board on my lap while watching TV doin feathers, spirals, well anything you want to practice.  That helped a great deal.  I also bought a bolt of muslin that I could put on my machine to start with and practice what I had been drawing.  And welcome to the forum.  

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Congrats on your new adventure.  I agree with others, get used to your machine, doing lots of  the letters "e" and "c", circles etc (I think circles are hard, mine were more squares) before getting into rulers.  Like Libby, I spent enough on rulers, pantographs, bases and just plain stuff  when I could have put the money into a computer.  I'm not saying don't try rulers, just be careful how much you put into them if your goal is a computer down the road.  I would suggest a straight ruler for in the ditch and Deloa Jone's Appliguide (ruler) for practice.  Ruler work is a lot easier with a base attached but I never used my Micro Handles, like PattiJoe, I thought it blocked my sight.  You can get a bracket to move the laser light where you can point the red dot in the middle of your hopping foot (found it very useful).  Circle Lord used to have (don't know if they still have it) a bracket you could put on you machine to place a sharpie by the needle so you can practice just moving your machine on paper rolls instead of using expensive muslin and thread.  If I actually want to sew I usually practice on muslin or cheap Walmart/Holly Lobby fabric.  When the practice fabric is used up, I cut and sew them into squares for pet mats at the local animal shelters.  If you practice on cheap fabrics get some with interesting designs that you can trace for practice.  If you don't like pinning (I don't know anyone who does) get a set of "Red Snappers" or "Leader Grips,"  either will make loading your quilts a lot more pleasant, faster and pain free.  I prefer the "Red Snappers".  Now for thread, I prefer Fil-Tech (Bobbin Central) threads and magna-bobbins.  I rarely have to touch my tension using the pre-wound bobbins with the magnet core.  Before Fil-Tech (Bobbin Central) came online I used Superior Threads line of products.  Now, get ready to have fun, practice, practice, practice.  When you begin to get frustrated have a glass of wine, some chocolate and walk-away.  If you have questions or problems bring them here for us to help you.  No questions are stupid, we've all been there.  We learn from each other no matter if you have been quilting for a day or 100 years (well maybe not a 100, I can't hand quilt).  Most important advice is have fun and like Gail said "don't forget to breathe"  you will hold your breath while quilting, LOL.  Welcome to our family!!!!!!!!!

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One of the best things I bought was  alum brackets  that rest from roller to roller, flush with the sides of your batting edge. Your side straps go over the brackets and attach to your fabric.  When they are attached, it elevates the clamps so that the base of your machine doesn't hit.

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Goodies to help you be a better quilter ....... a bottle of your favorite wine and some music that inspires you.  Drink a glass of wine about half an hour before you start quilting.  I recommend starting with a practice piece first just to get the hang of the machine.  The wine will help relax you so that you don't tense up when you start working with the machine.  Then just play and play until you get comfortable.  I remember when I first started quilting, my circles had nicely rounded off corners.  It's comical now, but it was a bit frustrating at first. 

Another tip... you can reuse your practice piece.  Start with a light shade of thread, one that you can still see, but is fairly light.  Then as the practice quilt gets filled with stitches such that you no longer have any free space, change your thread color to something a little darker.  Voila! a whole new "blank" canvas.  ;)

You may want to consider getting some fairly open pantographs and start playing with these.  Practice realigning the quilt a few times until you get the hang of it as well.  There are tons of cool rulers on the market.  I've bought nearly all of them.  What I found is that I use very few of the rulers that I purchases.  I do use the stitch in the ditch ruler and my cross-hatching rulers.  Circle or Oval templates are also handy.  Rulers are nice, but if you get really good and free hand quilting, the rulers aren't that necessary.  I recommend just starting with a couple good ones and see where you want to expand from there. 

Congrats on your new machine.  You're going to love it! 

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On 4/18/2017 at 6:41 AM, RebeccaGrace said:

Yes, I doodle feathers and spirals all the time, on my iPad, on my church bulletins during the sermon.  It definitely helps!  Patti Jo, I emailed you directly re: your Micro Drive handles.


rebecca Grace 

Hi Rebecca Grace, I have tried to change my old e-mail on my profile and it doesn't show up so if your still interested in the micro handles, here is my new e-mail: pjnoonan48@yahoo.com.  Thanks

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