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Hello quilters. I'm new here, and a new "long-armer" as well. So far I've been able to load a practice table runner, use the laser, and do some simple meanders. Woo Hoo! At least I've got the very basics of the machine under control!

I'm thinking about attending the MQX in Manchester, N.H. in April. Does anyone have any tips for the newbee?

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Congratulations on your new machine! You\'ve already tackled an actual project--good for you!

Going to MQX would be great fun for you, and you\'ll learn a great deal. As a "newbie", keep in mind that it is easy to become overwhelmed with information if you overdo the number of classes you take. Pretty soon the brain gets mushy, the tush gets tired, and the wallet gets empty:)!

First remember that you don\'t have to "learn everything" all at once. Think about setting some goals for yourself for the upcoming year--do you want to learn how to do pantographs well? Do you want to learn feathers? Or is your goal to just gain confidence in what you do? By setting your sights on two or three goals, you\'ll be able to sift through the dozens of classes offered and choose those that help you achieve them. There\'s always next year for more classes.

I think it\'s very important to note that there really isn\'t one "right" way to do something with a longarm. Many quilters take different approaches to a particular skill, such as stitching feathers. As long as you are happy with the end result, it doesn\'t matter how you got there.

Keeping that in mind, consider taking two or three classes that center around one of the goals you\'ve set for the year, to learn how different teachers approach the same topic. You\'ll gain something from all of them, and in the process, start to figure out what makes sense to you. You\'ll develop your way, using bits and pieces from each teacher. Be a little leery if someone says, "this is the ONLY way to do it."

Save some time for shopping, and as tough as it sounds, make a shopping list. You\'ll find so many things to spend your money on--thread, gadgets, crystals, fabric, etc. It\'s so easy to get carried away and blow a budget. So, start by creating a budget for spending. (I know, yuck!) Then decide where you need the most help; do you need a basic color assortment of thread to get started? Then make up a color list, and resist the urge to buy 10 spools of variegated thread just because the colors are "yummy."

Did you set a goal to get better at pantographs? Then concentrate your shopping list around products that can help you the most. Do you need a tool that helps you align the pattern and the quilt? Do you need to buy 1/2 dozen pantograph patterns to practice with? Look for designs that interlock well, are not too complex, and are more "universal" to allow you to use them on many different quilts (e.g. a shamrock pattern might be neat, but doesn\'t work on a lot of different quilts, whereas a generic "swirl" pattern might be more practical.)

You can certainly buy whatever you want--you just don\'t want to spend money on something "new" or the "latest and greatest" only to find it laying in the corner unused (when you could have spent that money on something more practical like chocolate!:))

Bring a camera and take photos of quilts that inspire you. But most importantly, treat those quilts hanging in the show as an example of this thought process:

"with a little patience and practice, I\'ll be quilting like that, too!"


"wow! I\'ll NEVER be that good."

I can guarantee you that each and every long arm quilter goes through a learning curve. The cool thing is, it\'s not a race! Work at your own pace, set your goals, and you\'ll achieve milestones along the way that will amaze you!

Finally, take time to mingle, meet new people, and forge new friendships. Think of MQX (and other shows like it) as one GIANT quilting bee!

Hope to meet you in Manchester!

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I second all that Dawn said. My first year at MQX I signed up for a gazillion classes and wore myself out.

The teachers are great (be sure to sign up for one of Dawn\'s classes -- they are fabulous!) and you will arrive home so pumped up and ready to try new things you won\'t believe it!

Hope to see you there!


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Dawn has many pearls of wisdom when it comes to quilting!! She is the best teacher ever as well...take her classes!! I took two last year and it has made all the difference in the world with my feathering and being able to offer that to customers. When you PPP and master these techniques in the classes offered at MQS, you will get into the custom quilting arena.

Pace yourself and you will be fine! You will have the time of your life and my way of thinking about the showcase is that it is continuing education and will only enhance my business and take it to the next level.

I try to mix hands on with lectures too and that way you have a nice balance of subjects and expert advice. I would like to do all hands on classes, but my check book doesn\'t allow for that!! And the shopping... well...yeah... bring lotsa moolah!! Tons of vendors to shop.

If you go I know you will get a lot out of it and never regret going. Good luck!

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Thanks for the great advice Dawn.

I feel like Qualityquilter. So much to learn and I get very frustrated with myself. I just finished my first quilt. I did a panto and when I get my zippers off, I\'ll try to post a pic for everyone to see.

I\'ll follow your advice that you gave above and I love this forum. It\'s great!! :)

Good luck to you Qualityquilter. I know you\'ll love it.

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If you teach it, I will come. LOL

My first Dawn class was at Innovations 2006.

Then 2 of my MQS 2007 classes were Dawn classes.

Next week I will take a feathers class from Dawn at Road2CA.

You know that doorway in your home where the the lines are for the height changes as your kids grew up. That is what you get from these classes. You learn some techniques and go home and try them. Then next time, you take a more challenging class and learn something new. Another line on the wall. And so grows your knowledge and experience as a quilter.

The only thing I will add to Dawn\'s list is: comfortable shoes to wear while at the show.

Have fun, make new friends and learn lots. :)

I agree, quilt shows ar all about continuing education.

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What GREAT advice - thank you all so very much. Like Sara, I\'ve looked through the brochure and had visions of taking about 13 classes. As reality is settling in, I know that I could never comprehend half of that - so thanks Dawn for providing the advice to focus on one or two goal areas.

It\'s hard for me to believe at my age (young Grandma), I\'m so excited about getting going on this opportunity! I hope to meet some of you in Manchester.

Dawn - I will certainly sign up for one of your classes! I loved your introduction video, so I know I will truly enjoy your class.

Thank again.

Quality quilter

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Quality Quilter,

I\'m looking forward to meeting you, too!

I just wanted to share some additional thoughts about hands-on classes at shows.

As a teacher, I have seen students come into a hands-on class with the wrong set of expectations. Namely, they think that if they spend time on a machine in class actually doing the technique the teacher is sharing, they will have it mastered when they leave the class and won\'t have to invest practice time at home. Invariably, these students are disappointed at the end of the day, because:

[*] they are using a machine they are not familiar with (even if it is the SAME brand as the one they use at home--each one has its own "feel")

[*] their work doesn\'t resemble the teacher\'s sample

[*] they expect to be able to complete the entire project, stitched perfectly in the class period allotted

[*] someone else in the class is doing better than they are

[*] they put pressure on themselves to appear competent in front of other students in the class, even if they are just beginning.

So, words of advice when taking any hands-on class:

[*] remember that you are NOT on your machine. Things will be different when you get home and practice in the comfort of your own studio.

[*] a hands-on class is not intended to make you an expert; rather, it is designed to give you an immediate chance to practice the technique you are learning. Don\'t give up on a technique simply because you haven\'t mastered it by the end of the hands-on session.

[*] students in hands-on classes are not competitors. While I admit no one wants to be perceived as a novice, everyone in a hands-on class is learning a teacher\'s technique for the first time. Granted, some students will be more generally experienced at quilting than others, but that doesn\'t make them a more superior person--just a person with more experience.

[*] things will go wrong in the class--Murphy\'s Law will be at work. Your thread might break. Your machine might have an attitude that day. Your head won\'t communicate with your hands and your normally smooth curves become squares...relax a bit and remember that the purpose is to learn, practice, and have fun.

Other hands-on class "etiquette" points for newbies:

[*] Arrive early to familiarize yourself with the machine. You will most likely share the machine with another student. If you do not use the particular brand of machine available in the class, see if you can partner with someone who does have it.

[*] Offer to help other students if you are familiar with the machines. Part of the fun is creating new friendships and networking with other quilters.

[*] Realize your own personal limitations, and don\'t expect to monopolize the teacher\'s time. She must see to the needs of all the students in the class, so be willing to ask for help from a neighbor if the teacher is busy with another student.

[*] Don\'t criticize other students\' work, or the machine you are using. We all treat our machines like our "babies"; you might offend someone standing near you.

[*] Remember that long arm companies have generously provided the machines for the classes, at great expense. All of those machines become "used" and must be serviced and sold at a discount after the shows. We all know that things can go wrong; patience is very important in hands-on classes.

[*] Bring basic supplies with you to class, such as paper, pencils, scissors or nippers, or other tools that would help make your sewing time efficient. Forget the seam ripper, though--this is just a practice piece. A permanent marking pen can be helpful to have--you can make notes about what you are doing right on the sample that you are stitching.

[*] Don\'t "hog" the sewing head, or fabric quilting space. Use the marker to separate the fabric into equal sections for each person at the table. The teacher may tell you that you have a certain amount of time for each technique; divide the time equally with your partner, and take turns having "first crack" at the machine.

Whoa--guess I\'d better get down off that soapbox. Don\'t be afraid of hands-on classes, Quality Quilter. Just wanted to give you an idea of what to expect!

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Again, all good advice from Dawn. She\'s been there-done that and speaks from a weath of experience.

If you want to experience the "hands on" classes, I would suggest just taking one the first time around. They are, as said above, more expensive and are 4 hours rather than the demo classes of 2 hours. My own personal opinion (note "opinion") is that I personally get more bang for my buck out of the demo classes. The teachers can spend more time showing more techniques, rather than spending the time helping people out on their machines, and then I can go home and practice to my heart\'s content on my own baby. When I\'ve taken hands on classes in past I often spend most of my time trying to get accustomed to how the machine works.

Just my two cents!


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I hope I didn\'t give anyone the impression that I "mastered" the technique that I learned in Dawn\'s classes while I was AT the class....cause that isn\'t what I meant. What I meant is, that after the class and you go home and PPP you will get better each time and get more comfortable and adventuresome on your own. It is not an instantaneous thing. It takes time and dedication and more time...

But for me, Dawn\'s way of teaching made sense and I did walk away from both classes so pumped and excited! Literally I couldn\'t even form one good looking plume to a feather, but with her instruction... I was able to make decent looking feathers ~ it was like a revelation or something.

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Thanks for the vote of confidence--you are too kind!

I also hope everyone understands that I wasn\'t directing my "hands-on"comments at anyone in particular; I know you understand what to expect in that setting. I\'ve just encountered students along the way who had a different perception of what would happen in a hands-on class.

I\'m glad to hear the feathers are going so well for you! You\'re right about investing in the PPP time at home. It makes all the difference.

Happy quilting!

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