Sunday, November 30, 2014

Long Arm Quilting Experience

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I went back and used the long arm quilting machine (HQ Avante) at the LQS that rents them out. It was quite a different experience from having an instructor beside me all the time. From 10 paces on a fast horse, the quilt looks fine (if you don't look too hard at the bottom left corner).

Below are my mistakes. First the close-ups that show the funky quilting pattern and the wrinkles.

Now for the specifics: 
  1. Loaded machine backwards, despite instructions I wrote and photos I took during the lesson.
  2. Had a terrible time with the basting stitch designed to hold top of quilt in place, so I have some very wrinkled quilting near that basting stitch. I am going to assume that washing will make the quilt all wrinkly.
  3. Had a mess on the back of the quilt from a bobbin issue that I didn't see until I got the quilt off the machine. Thank the gods it was only a small part of the quilting. I had to rip that part out. Ripping out thread after you have quilted is TIME-CONSUMING!
  4. Shop did not have the color thread I needed, so used a color I am not that enthused about, but I am living with it.
  5. My quilting pattern is funky to say the least, but functional (see above photo). I was trying for waves and ended up with sort of waves and circles.
  6. Quilting when you are renting a machine is tiring. No time outs for tea or to think about what to do. Just quilt, quilt, quilt. I was dead tired at the end of the session - 4 hours to do a lap-sized quilt. It took so long because I had to wait to get help because I kept making mistakes. LOL.
  7. I have decided to quilt the red section in red, so I am in the process ripping out thread because the contrasting color just looks tacky. While quilting I thought I needed to do red, but then thought, but I will never finish it, so went back and quilted it in same color as the rest. Big mistake! You can really see the funky quilting pattern here. Looks horrific. The other is somewhat hidden because of the thread color.
Will I rent the machine again?
Probably. I would prefer to have my own midsize quilter, like an HQ 16. However, that is unlikely to happen anytime soon because of cost and space, so I am going to have to get better at free motion quilting without a stitch regulator or get creative with straight line stitching.

Lessons Learned
  1. Use thread color that matches. 
  2. Don't try new patterns on a quilt you are giving to someone :-).
  3. Take matching thread with you.
  4. Take a quilt to practice on that you will keep and abuse.

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