I occasionally teach a new longarm owners class at Virginia Longarm, my local Innova dealer. The class has 2 goals. First is to get everyone over any apprehension by getting them on the machines quilting. The second goal is to get their mind-set right about what it takes to become proficient at longarming. Just because someone can quilt free-motion on a domestic machine doesn't mean that they will be able to immediately quilt beautiful feathers on the longarm. It's a very different technique and, like with anything new, it takes practice.
The analogy I like to use is driving a car. When we first learned to drive a car we didn't expect to race at NASCAR in the first week......or even the first year. So why do we get frustrated with quilting if we can't create a ribbon-worthy quilt in the first month? We get frustrated because we have set unreasonable expectations. It takes hundreds of hours of practice to be able to quilt a Best of Show quilt.
That brings me to my friend, Marcy. Marcy loves longarm quilting but doesn't get to do it all that often because she rents time to longarm. When I injured my arm I knew that longarming was out of the question for weeks so I asked Marcy if she might want some practice. We struck a deal. She could get practice if she would practice on some of the backlog of veterans quilts and then she could quilt a couple of her own quilts.
I picked Marcy because she's had the Innova renters class and has some experience under her belt. She needed a little help at the beginning but she's totally independent now. I simply didn't have time to teach a totally new longarmer so this worked out perfect.
As I mentioned, Marcy has some experience quilting but when you go months between quilts there's a big learning curve every time you start to quilt. This time she has access to the machine for about 4 weeks so she can get a lot of hours in. She wanted to focus on learning to quilt with pantographs which, luckily, are perfect for veterans quilts. Let's see how she did.
This photo is the first corner that she quilted using the Popcorn pantograph. Like any new quilter, she struggled with getting smooth curves.
But just after one quilt you can already see marked improvement! No more flat line curves and more even spacing.....just in one small quilt! We load 2 veterans quilts at once time so the first 2 were done with Popcorn.
eFor the second 2 quilts we switched to that Burning Bush pantograph and by the end of her 4th quilt she had the pantograph nailed! Also by this point she had everything else about longarming nailed: winding bobbins, threading the machine, tension, aligning the pantograph....everything. She didn't need any more help after that. She's now on her own and having a blast quilting.
Here are the first 4 quilts that she quilted.
The first 2 quilts were made by my blog friend, Patty.
The quilt on the left was made by our member who lives near Seattle and the one in the right was made by a local member. That one is going to give us another lesson! We discovered that it has a major tension issue in one area and we didn't see it until after the quilt was trimmed. DOH!
But we are going to get that fixed next week.
I'm really grateful to Marcy for helping me catch up on veterans quilts and she seems happy to have the practice time. She's proving that you can take dozens of classes but if you don't take the time to practice you will never get better.
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I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.