Longarm Quilting Extravaganza – Part 2

This is the second part of our first adventure of using “Millie” the longarm machine from APQS. Our bags were packed – it took two to hold all the quilt tops and supplies we brought with us! You will find Longarm Quilting Extravaganza Part 1 with this link.

Carol had a practice quilt top already loaded on Millie. Grandma Faye had met with Carol a few weeks prior and had shared some tips and tricks. Before we began working on our tops, we had to have a few dry runs! Both the machine and using pantographs are completely new to both Sue and me.

Before you know it, we had each completed a row on the practice top and were ready to begin. Sue was surprised that she was called into service . . . why did she think she was just along for the ride?! It was time to learn how to load a quilt top on the longarm and to get busy!

Which Top was First Longarm Quilting Extravaganza?

The quilt top chosen as the first guinea pig was Ripples. This was a suggestion for one of our blog readers! Carol and I had no input in the decision or selection process – Sue said let’s do this one first. Okay with us!

Setting up the machine and the three layers is really a process. The backing for Ripples is a panel that said, “Have yourself a merry little Christmas”. We pinned the backing to the leader things (what are they called??) with some SHARP pins. Ask us how we know?! Ouch. After that, we centered the batting in the correct place and Carol sewed a straight basting stitch in green thread. We used that line to straighten the quilt top as we centered it and layered it, too. There was a lot of double-checking going on. Centering the quilt top in all four directions involved Sue checking out the quilt top placement from the floor! You’ll see later that our placement was spot-on.

The pantograph we used is called “Loop the Loop” by Urban Elementz, but I think it looks like a Treble Clef note. That’s a perfect choice for a musical-themed backing – I was humming the song, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” most of the day. Note: those little white puffs in the picture is the batting slightly poking through – NOT a tension issue, as we thought. After several discussions about tension, we rolled the quilt top forward/backward to verify there was no issue. Phew!

Longarm Do It Already!

More double-checking ensued – we were all nervous to get started. It’s just a quilt top! No one is going to die over a quilt top so we jumped in. Carol started on the first row and then we had to admire it for a while! Her husband, Ken, was called over to see that the first row was complete. Advancing the quilt and lining up the pantograph for the next row is pretty cool to me! I didn’t even know there was something called a “shadow” row to use as a guide.

Up next was Sue, who has no issues at all with following the pantograph. (Thank you, Lord, for the successful eye surgery!) She is a natural at this – concentration is the key, we’ve found. I can listen and panto at the same time, but I can’t formulate a response. I don’t even scrunch my shoulders like on my domestic machine. Carol has a saddle chair that we all used and no one fell off of it!

Longarm Off the Rails!

Here is Ripples, our first quilt top off the longarm rails. Ken graciously ran over to see the unpinning and unrolling procedure. Hurry, we told him! The orange scrap on the left side of the first picture is a test of the tension. Once this quilt top came off, we knew that we had time to start on another quilt top. Which one should we choose?!! At this point, we also became fully aware that we greatly overpacked. Just like a vacation, we brought so many different choices with us we hardly knew what to do. We rallied though.

Longarm Quilt Top #2

Hmm. Should we choose Pieces from the Past or 4-Patch Plus as our next quilt top to load? Both of them are approximately the same size, and the Glide gray thread would look fabulous on either. Let’s see. Carol is a HUGE fan of 1930 fabrics and pinwheels. I’ll be you can guess where this is going! The 4-Patch Plus top from January 2020 is the winner. Isn’t it nice that we have so many choices?!

The backing we selected is the perfect size so we loaded that with ease. The batting was NOT trimmed to size, but I can easily do that on the fly. Before you know it, Carol had the batting basted to the backing in gray thread. Note to self – use a different BOLD color for basting so you can SEE the straight line. The perfectly straight line sinks right into the batting – I had to nearly crawl over the bar to see it. HAHA! Again, we rallied and placed the quilt top nice and straight. We were ready to rock and roll on top number two.

Longarm Debate – Same Panto or Not?!

We loved how the first quilt top turned out. It’s nice and quilty squishy. Do we want to mess with perfection? Do we want to try a different pantograph? NOPE. We’re not messing with a good thing.

All we need to do is move the tape to mark the start and stop! The gray Glide was ready to go and the bobbin was full. Carol switched the presser foot to this little basket-shaped one. We didn’t have any issues with the other foot but why not give it a try?

Off to the races with Carol starting on Row One. I enjoy watching the stitching as it appears. It’s amazing. Those stitches are just so perfectly sized using the stitch regulator. I shared a video on our YouTube channel. I have more to share, too, very soon.

Did we forget to do something this time? Umm, yes we did. We forgot to check the tension. Why would it be a problem? The same batting is being used, similar cotton fabric on the top and bottom, and even the same exact thread. Yeah. The issue started during row three . . . no, I didn’t take it personally. Well, yes I did. What the heck? We changed the needle – that’s a big, heavy mother. Just saying.

Longarm Adventure – Part 3

It was getting late at this point. We arrived at 7:30 am and it was now after 5:30 pm. The sun was no longer shining and we had an hour’s drive ahead of us. We were all pooped!! All four of us trouped upstairs and sank thankfully into a comfy chair. We recapped what we tried to fix the tension issue. Ken suggested that the bobbin case needs to be cleaned out. I think that is a brilliant suggestion, and that might be the ultimate fix. We left the quilt top in Carol’s very competent hands to figure out the issue. She just might finish quilting that top for us (sweet!!!) and we just might get it back (it is her favorite combination, after all).

Longarm – A Love Affair for the Ages

Here’s a last-minute update as the binding is finished and the quilt has been washed and dried. We have a special home in mind for this quilt but that cannot be revealed yet. Christmas is coming up, in case you weren’t aware. Mum’s the word, please! It’s a complete finish now for this long awaiting beauty.

We selected another quilting extravaganza day on December 26th. I.cannot.wait. Can’t wait! We all loved everything that happened on our one-day adventure. So much learning happened and so much learning is still to come. There are still all those pantographs to try at some point. We’ll have to expand our horizons. You’ll have to stay tuned.

♥ ♥ ♥

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18 Responses

  1. Roseanne you and Sue must have had so much fun with Carol and Ken. Longarming is a real joy and even the issues can teach you things. I’ve found that cleaning my machine after each bobbin is emptied, , oiling at the start of each day and a new needle every quilt saves a lot of issues. 😉

  2. Chriskntis says:

    Now you need one!!! They are so much fun. Just think of all the tops you would get done!

  3. Loved your follow up to Part 1! There is definitely a learning curve to using a longarm. I think you did so good for your first time. The more you use it, the easier it gets. I still forget to check things sometimes. There are so many variables to consider.

  4. Linda says:

    Man that is a BIG longarm! Hmmm a saddle chair – that sounds comfy. You and Sue look so sweet! Your quilt turned out so beautiful! Ken and Carol sound like such dear folks. It was fun to watch you on your longarm adventure – I look forward to the next one!

  5. Mary says:

    I really enjoyed reading both of these posts about you learning to use the longarm. How exciting! My cousins in Sacramento have one, and one of these days when I visit, I might just have to give it a whirl!

  6. Gail Sheppard says:

    What fun! Learning and Quilting with friends!
    And the results: marvellous!!!

  7. Oh how fun, Roseanne! I loved hearing about your first journey into longarming! And I can tell you are hooked!! So glad you have access to the machine. Tension issues are such a pain! I’m glad you had fun, and I totally agree, loading the quilt is the hardest and most painful part for me!! This quilt will be treasured by whomever receives it!

  8. Laura says:

    What a fun experience! Many thanks and blessings to Carol…what a special friend!
    The chosen pantograph looks wonderful with Ripples! Well done!
    Love the focus and determination happening here! 🙂

  9. Rochelle Summers says:

    What a great blog post and so nice to have pictures with it. Yes, it is a lot of work getting it loaded and picking out the right pantogram. Hey, sometimes I can’t walk and talk at the same time so if you’re quilting a talking while looking at a panto you’re doing great. I’m sorry to say, lint is really a big culprit in all of those sewing issues, even on my own domestic. But I’m so glad you had fun and have a date on Dec 26th. It will be so fun for the three of you to spend time together and practicing on that machine. What a wonderful friend Carol is! Can’t wait to see what kind of fun you have on the next quilting date!!

  10. Kathleen McCormick says:

    What fun! You did great and the tension thing can be annoying. Clean and oil before each quilt….although mine are small due to the size of my frame…and it is pretty good 90% of the time. So glad you enjoyed it and have another date scheduled. It really is so fun to get them done so quickly…and with much less shoulder pain!

  11. Wendy says:

    Fun to read about your experience, hear your excitement, and see those serious faces and then the smiling faces! Looks like grand fun, and what could be better than going home with finished quilts!

  12. What a fun experience, Roseanne, and looks like you had great results! I really like that curvy design you chose for the two quilts. It sounds like you learned a lot, and finished two quilts – hooray!

  13. Karla says:

    Roseanne, this was exciting! I stopped and got a second cup of coffee to enjoy the read! The loop-to-loop panto was the perfect choice for both quilts! I love the backing on the ripples quilt. A talented team effort…just beautiful!

  14. Fantastic! Sue certainly looks nonchalant, cool & collected in facing off the Pantograph! HA! You, Roseanne look determined & focused!
    December 26th seems more exciting than the 24/25th IMHO. Blessings to your friend, Carol who has taught you how to manage Millie

  15. Vicki in MN says:

    I loved hearing your experience. Following a panto is not an easy feat for me, I just don’t enjoy it so kudos to you ladies! I also found it harder when the panto was a dense one. We are all different some like them and some don’t. As far as tension issues, all bobbins are not created equal, and when we roll the quilt itself well that could change it too. I have always used a size 20 needle in my Funquilter, it’s what came with it and I have good results, it is huge like a horse leg, haha. So glad you gals enjoyed the experience. Oh and yes those things are really called leaders:)

  16. Gretchen says:

    This is so exciting! I’m so glad you guys are jumping and using the machine. Too many just let the machine sit in their sewing room and drape fabric on it because they’re too nervous to jump in and use it! Happy stitching!

  17. Oh I loved all this, I have never seen how a pantograph works, I guess I’d need to watch someone using one on a long arm. Isn’t that fantastic to have a finished quilt already to gift. Love the backing. Well done.

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